Israeli surveillance systems protecting American lives abroad

Unlike other intruder detection equipment on the market, Controp systems detect penetration attempts automatically, and in difficult conditions.They have a world of experience monitoring Israel’s borders around the clock. They helped secure the Athens summer Olympic Games. And now the …

Unlike other intruder detection equipment on the market, Controp systems detect penetration attempts automatically, and in difficult conditions.They have a world of experience monitoring Israel’s borders around the clock. They helped secure the Athens summer Olympic Games. And now the surveillance and reconnaissance systems of Controp Precision Technologies Ltd. are also working to save American lives at home and overseas.

Purchased by the US Army and Navy/Marines, the devices are currently being employed to protect US forces in Afghanistan, and at other locations around the world.

Established in 1988 and based in Hod Hasharon, Controp develops and manufactures some of the world’s most advanced equipment for security and surveillance on air, land and sea. It is one of a handful of companies worldwide that produces smart systems able to scan a given area and detect intruders automatically. Uniquely, these devices are effective even in total darkness or adverse weather conditions.

As its name implies, Controp’s products combine control and optics. The company’s cameras incorporate night sensors (FLIR) that identify thermal signatures and day sensors that provide live TV-quality images. These devices are mounted on light aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs), miniature UAVs, tall pillars and rooftops.

According to CEO Shlomo Nir, “the ability to quickly identify a potential threat is vital to prevent it from becoming a real threat.”

And unlike other intruder detection equipment on the market, Controp systems detect penetration attempts automatically, and in difficult conditions. Continually scanning a given area, the systems’ optic sensors detect strange moving objects, and carry out examination and verification. Locking in the object, the systems issue warnings to operators, who can shift to manual mode, and zoom in on the suspicious object to receive a detailed picture.

“Bringing things closer into sight is the first step in dealing with potential threats,” Nir told ISRAEL21c. “Our systems indicate the presence of people who are in places they shouldn’t be.” With obvious applications to combating terrorism, the systems also provide protection against smuggling, theft and illegal immigration. Among Controp’s international customers, common ground applications include the surveillance of airports, water reservoirs and power plants. The company?s products monitor sensitive sites in different European countries and in the Far East.

Controp’s four founders – Nir, Director of Business Development Eli Ben Aharon, Director of Engineering Yehezkiel Amber and CTO Sason Benado, are all either veterans of the Israel Air Force or the Israel Aircraft Industries, so it was natural for them to begin their business by producing payload cameras for aircraft.

Consequently, Controp brought its technology down to earth – and sea. So when the US Department of Defense and Israeli Ministry of Defense approached the company in 1999 with the idea of jointly developing the new ground-based automatic intruder detection system, the company was ready.

Three years later, this US-Israel collaborative effort yielded the SPIDER, today’s most sophisticated intruder detection system. With both a thermal imaging sensor for night use, and a day sensor that provides TV-quality color images, the system boasts an extra long-range surveillance capability. Uniquely, the SPIDER can be installed on unstable platforms, like mobile vehicles or high pillars. American forces mount it on their HUMMER field vehicles.

Another of the company’s main products, CEDAR, is a ground-based surveillance system intended for mounting on a fixed platform. Deployed in Athens, CEDAR is also outfitted with different cameras for day and night operation. The system’s modular nature allows for custom-tailored performance and cost.

Designed to guard coastlines, harbors and ports, CEDAR cannot be fooled by the “curtain” created by waves, which makes intruder detection so difficult in water. Incorporating sophisticated algorithms, the system is able to differentiate between the movement of waves and small dinghies in water. “Ignoring” the water’s natural movement, the system can detect small boats, which may be armed with weapons or explosive devices. To prevent false alarms, CEDAR can be programmed to disregard small animals or objects.

In August, 2004, Controp’s CEDAR equipment was put to an extra-challenging test, as hundreds of thousands of athletes and spectators convened in Athens for the summer Olympic games. With the threat of mega-terror ever present, Greek security authorities employed two dozen CEDAR systems to monitor the city’s immense seaport.

To address the growing demands for homeland security in the US, the company has opened its first subsidiary, Controp USA Inc., in Long Island, New York. Ultimately, this office is also intended to become a manufacturing facility.

“It became apparent that Controp’s presence in the US was crucial,” says Shlomo Nir. “We need to be close to our clients so we can tailor our products to meet their needs. While all our systems are based on the same principles of thermal detection and identification, they are modular, and can be put together and added to suit specific requirements.”

In a recent contract, Controp sold Cedar ground surveillance systems to the Department of Energy of the US government. The Department was looking to prevent the possibility of a crippling power outage – perhaps as the result of a terrorist operation. At this time, Controp is involved in other transactions that promise to reinforce its presence in the American homeland security market.

“Unfortunately, it took September 11 to draw world attention to the importance of homeland security, and the need for this equipment in the US and throughout the world,” says Nir. “Some of our products were the direct results of US-Israel efforts, and all of them are designed to address mutual concerns. Our R&D will continue providing solutions that meet these shared – and growing – needs.”