Transformative technologies and the power of the cloud – OptaSense

09 July 2012 image

Technology is changing the way we see the world around us. Instantaneous communication is now the norm and we are all used to having information at our fingertips. The same is true for OptaSense. We’re challenged to provide our customers with the data they need in real-time – often over hundreds of kilometres and in countries ranging from the U.S. and Canada to Iraq and Kazakhstan.

Keeping everyone up to speed with the latest developments in our internal research and development programme is already hard work. Communicating the same information to other parties around the globe has the potential to be far more difficult. The cloud is the obvious, in vogue solution to this and we use Huddle as our main means of sharing documents and enabling co-operative project execution with our partners around the globe.

OptaSense uses a novel method of distributed fibre optic sensing to detect vibrations through the ground. It then uses advanced signal processing algorithms to classify the sound as any one of a number of different alert types (for security and monitoring operations). However, increasingly we are seeing interest in going beyond the alert into more detailed analysis of the data itself. This is allowing us to build a picture of activity alongside assets as diverse as roads, borders, pipelines and perimeters. Combined with the sensitivity of the system towards seismic activity this gives us the opportunity to be much more than a security system, funneling our information up to the cloud for wider dissemination.

This type of scenario can happen every month. A client in Vietnam uploads source data from the system to their team folders in a shared workspace, OptaSense engineers (who may be working elsewhere in the world) analyze the data and upload a monthly report on pipeline activity to our own internal team folders in the Huddle project workspace.  These are then approved and a PDF copy exported back to the client team folders, notifying the relevant security personnel and management teams. The pipeline owner, sitting in Terminal 5, brings up the report through Huddle before logging in to the OptaSense software remotely. He picks out a suspicious profile – personnel and digging alerts on three consecutive nights near a main crossing point. A quick call to his operations manager on the ground gets a patrol out within two hours, finding and shutting down the activity before any damage is done to the pipe.

The end goal for OptaSense is to contribute towards creating the Earth’s nervous system. We envisage a world where the data we collect is trusted, acted on immediately and ultimately delivers great value. The only way we see for this to come about is a continued expansion of cloud services and data-sharing, and we’re proud to be part of this growth.


Guest author: Richard Martin, Senior Business Analyst, Optasense

Richard has a background in Physics but now works as an analyst within the OptaSense team, doing anything and everything from marketing and sales to intellectual property and recruitment. At weekends you’ll usually find him with a basketball in one hand and a beer in the other.