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Diamond hard surveillance


Africa’s diamond mining industry dates back to 1867. Both gem-quality and industrial-quality diamonds are mined across sub-Saharan Africa today, employing millions of people, and recovering an estimated 65% of the roughly 130 million carats mined annually across the world.

Parts of South West Africa still produce an abundance of high-quality stones from gravel deposits found in rivers, streams and along shorelines. Considering the global output of uncut diamonds is worth about $7 billion a year, ‘leakage,’ or theft from the mining process, is relentless.

Security is a preoccupation, and primary works are fortified with razor wire and armed guards. In South West Africa diamond theft is culturally viewed as the proper work of man. The major issue today is that internal workers are responsible for the majority of theft from mines, a crime which, according to the industry, leads to a drop in production and a huge dip in share values. This was a problem facing one African diamond mine which found its extensive excavations difficult to secure. Faced with deliberate tampering of surveillance by criminals intent on illegally working the mine, the company sought a more robust, mobile and easy to deploy digital video surveillance system to protect its investment.


The mining company commissioned wireless specialists Wood & Douglas to create a bespoke wide area integrated video link and telemetry control system.

Called the Mobile Surveillance System (MSS), this network of highly portable wireless linked cameras deploys an Orion UHF radio transmitter and secure DVB-T COFDM digital video transmission technology. A Master Camera (MSP) - a package of electronics, batteries, solar panels, and antennae mounted on a robust trailer –was then positioned on high ground around the mining site. The MSS system allows an operator to command the remote cameras and view surveillance images over wireless from around 1km square sub areas of the mine.

To counter deliberate blocking of the MSP’s viewpoint, Wood & Douglas created a short range radio link to sub cameras, known as Spyders. The MSP repeats alternative Spyder images back over the main radio connection to the master base station and onward to the surveillance monitoring room.

The video transmitter in the MSP uses secure DVB-T COFDM technology. One MSP camera and three Spyder video camera streams are encoded onto a single stream to the base station. Where the terrain prevents line of sight connectivity to the base station a repeater unit is used to ‘hop’ the transmission. In the control room, the operator uses the wireless link to control pan, tilt and zoom on the camera. Operator use is password protected with a full audit trail, so even the actions of the operators can be monitored.

The completed roll out included four base stations each covering a mining area of some 70km square. Within each of these sites there could be up to sixteen MSP cameras. The system is incredibly dynamic: assets can be moved from one location to another, sent for service, or added to a new group, all totally under the control of the operator via the Orion UHF command and control link.

Since deployment the system has proven reliable and effective with an increase in arrests and convictions.

  • Wide area digital video surveillance with command and control
  • Operates in extreme environmental conditions
  • Multiple camera network reduces tampering
  • Designed and manufactured in house at Wood & Douglas

It is our aim to never promise what we cannot deliver.