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Write to be heard: Ditch rabbit ears step into future

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This year has been marked with some unfortunate events, growing pains and perhaps a new type of paradigm in the yachting community worldwide.

From the brutal death of tourist Roger Pratt in St. Lucia, to the welding accident that took down the $24 million M/Y Polar Bear at Marine Group Boat Works in San Diego, to the most recent event involving the untimely death of Google executive Forrest Timothy Hayes, it’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are here on the water.

Even though we work in the video surveillance industry servicing marinas, ships and superyachts regularly, we are fairly surprised at just how many in our industry are still dealing with old security systems. It’s alarming (pardon the pun), in fact.

We all understand the value of security, but over and over again, we walk onto a multimillion-dollar vessel or into a busy harbor and find them equipped with dangerously outdated “systems” and technology. Many systems we see out there are at least 20-30 years old, low-res, analog, and slow. They are also not designed to connect fully or easily with current mobile devices such as iPads.

It’s like putting rabbit ears on your plasma, high-def 60 inch screen. We have to ask, why?

Enter the connected ship idea. Originating from the Greek maritime industry, the connected ship theory basically states that the shipping industry will survive only if it comes up to speed with the rest of the world in terms of technology.

This includes video surveillance that integrates with mobile, security services and other types of communication. It also embraces the idea of stored video footage for best practices.

Here’s our 2 cents. We think that in addition to keeping your loved ones safe, a new, high-tech surveillance system should also:

1. Improve levels of service via outstanding mobile integration, allowing captain and crew to see where service is needed and cut down on guest wait times.

2. Increase efficiency and best practices to produce a crew that runs the tightest ship possible. When crystal clear images meet high storage capacity levels, captain and management teams have the ability to review the crew in action and apply best practices or modify what’s not working.

3. Improve oversight of technical equipment functionality.

4. Improve the ability to detect off-boat threats such as approaching vessels, acts of piracy or other water-born dangers.

5. Protect the investment of the ship in an accident by providing clear, detailed evidence to insurance claims.

And last, but not least:

6. Bring criminals to justice. When you use cameras with 5 megapixels (10x more than basic/analog) or more of resolution, the footage becomes admissible as evidence in a court of law, making justice faster and more probable.

For those yacht captains and owners in the market for a surveillance system upgrade, here are three tips to help make the best choice for the vessel:

1. Know the difference between analog and a “true” modern digital system.

2. Know what you’re getting in terms of resolution; weather rating; video extraction encryption; camera management administration; and low light capability.

3. View a live system and talk to the vendor’s clients.

And, with all due respect, relegate your rabbit ears to the recycle bin. Opt to start living on a smart superyacht instead of a dangerous one. And thank you for letting us bend your ear.

Dustin Saylor, CEO

Odin Systems

San Deigo, Calif.

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