Category: News

08 Apr 2020
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OptaSense Introduces Support Services For Distributed Fiber Optic Systems

Maximize Your Fiber Optic System Availability!

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OptaSense’s long-term support for distributed fiber optic sensing systems can maximize operator’s fiber optic sensing system reliability and availability through a range of balanced service packages that combine both technical support, services management and a framework that is focused on system Uptime, Maintainability and Life of Asset Support.

02 Feb 2015

OptaSense partners with Siemens to exploit DAS technology for traffic monitoring in the UK

February 2nd, 2015

OptaSense, a QinetiQ company, has entered into a two-year partnership with Siemens Traffic Solutions to exploit OptaSense Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) for traffic monitoring.

The agreement will enable OptaSense to roll out, support and maintain a fully networked traffic monitoring solution, leveraging Siemens’ established 24/7 response facilities and broad engineering base.

IMG_20140328_153005The partnership follows successful road monitoring pilot projects by OptaSense in the UK and overseas. These verified the performance of OptaSense’ DAS system compared to the conventional inductive loop technology in providing information on average speed, journey times and congestion.

A pilot project in New Zealand demonstrated that DAS was able to meet flow management and incident detection demands two-and a-half times more cheaply than inductive loops.

Unlike inductive loops, which are concealed beneath the road surface, OptaSense uses fibre optic cables already installed alongside the carriageway, removing the need for lane closures during installation or maintenance and improving safety for highway workers. The DAS boxes are also only required to be installed every 80-100km, rather than every 500m for inductive loops, significantly reducing cost.

DAS technology works by firing a laser down a fibre optic cable and measuring any disturbance to the laser and analysing it to create a series of microphones every 10 meters. This compares to the existing system which can only monitor traffic which is spaced out over hundreds of meters. DAS can therefore eliminate blind spots and also reduce the response time in the event of an incident by pinpointing the location more accurately to within 10 meters, as well as build a more detailed picture of traffic flow to the area.

For the motorist, the system results in more timely and accurate traffic data and less disruption caused by road closures.

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, said: “Distributed fibre sensing has the potential to greatly reduce the monitoring cost for road operators by significantly reducing the amount of roadside sensors. Having spent the last few years working directly with a number of Highways Agencies to develop and test the system performance, we now move into a more commercial deployment phase and are pleased to partner with Siemens to enable this. This partnership gives us access to an established and globally recognised firm with a UK-wide support capability.”

Gordon Wakeford, Managing Director of Siemens Traffic  Solutions said “Siemens has a long heritage in providing traffic management solutions and we are always looking to bring forward innovation within our industry and are impressed with the potential for DAS to perform many of the functions currently achieved with a number of sensors. We look forward to taking OptaSense DAS to our customers to help them improve the performance and costs associated with traffic management.”

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About OptaSense

  • OptaSense is a platform technology which has applications in a number of markets, including infrastructure security where the technology is already in use to monitor 15,000kms of assets, principally providing leak detection and third party intrusion detection for oil and gas pipelines.
  • OptaSense is the World leader in Distributed Acoustic Sensing and operating in 40 countries globally with operations across multiple industries including Oil & Gas, Defence & Security, Transport and Utilities. It is managed as a subsidiary of the QinetiQ Group.
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11 Dec 2014

OptaSense recognised as the Most Interesting Rail Innovation of 2014

December 10th, 2014

Farnborough, 10 December 2014: OptaSense, a subsidiary of QinetiQ, has won the Innovation category of the Rail Media Group ‘Most Interesting Awards 2014’. The award category recognises innovation that significantly advances safety, security and efficiency within the rail sector.

Screen Shot 2012-10-14 at 10.38.13The award follows major contract wins in the rail sector for OptaSense including an 18-month collaboration agreement with Europe’s biggest rail operator, Deutsche Bahn Netz AG, to deploy OptaSense’ Distributed Acoustic Sensing* (DAS) technology with a view to reducing operational and maintenance costs associated with trackside monitoring.

Existing technology requires dedicated trackside sensors to monitor different events such as wheel flats, train position, intrusion, rock fall and cable theft. The collaboration with Deutsche Bahn Netz AG will see OptaSense DAS perform multiple functions from a single sensor, thereby reducing the equipment and whole life costs associated with trackside monitoring.

In November, OptaSense was awarded a five year contract, split with its partner TAQQAT Global Co. – Abdulla Fouad Group, to provide security monitoring for two rail lines from Dammam to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The contract for the 1000km rail line is the first phase in securing the entire rail infrastructure in the country.

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, said: “Introducing new technology to the rail industry is a challenge and we are delighted to be recognised for bringing new innovations to the market. The adoption we are seeing is a reflection of the confidence that significant operators have in our proven technology.

“As we continue to extend our deployment with some of the industry’s leading organisations, OptaSense is totally committed to enabling our customers to achieve the maximum asset availability to protect their revenues in addition to reducing operational & maintenance costs associated with trackside sensors.”

OptaSense was selected ahead of innovations from Network Rail, Aspin, Megatech and Pilz.

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Notes for Editors

* Distributed Acoustic Sensing uses laser and sonar technology to create hundreds of microphones and senses along existing fibre optic cables. The backscatter from the laser can be analysed using algorithms to provide both a monitoring and alarm system.

20 Nov 2014

OptaSense Selected to Secure Vital Railway Lines in Saudi Arabia

November 20th, 2014

Saudi Railway Organisation Award $12m Security Contract to Monitor 1,000km Railway Lines

Farnborough, UK – 20 November 2014 – OptaSense, a QinetiQ company has been awarded a five year $12million contract, split evenly with its partner TAQQAT Global Co. – Abdulla Fouad Group., to provide security monitoring for two rail lines from Dammam to Riyadh. The Contract, for the 1000km rail line, is the first phase in securing the entire rail infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

The contract, which is being primed by TAQQAT Global Co. – Abdulla Fouad Group, will see the installation of a dedicated fibre monitoring network which will incorporate OptaSense’s Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system.

image62 v2 no textThe DAS technology will allow the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) to monitor encroachments and unauthorized movements on both sides of the railway lines, by sensing vibrations on the fibre-optic network. Using laser and sonar technology developed by QinetiQ, the disturbances will be transmitted to processing units to compare the type of vibrations and determine via a database whether it is a vehicle, excavation, a person or an animal on the line, as well as ignoring the ordinary vibrations generated by the trains. The technology can also identify the site of any disturbance helping reduce the response times for maintenance and security teams.

The system will allow operators to also monitor trains on the line, with capability to record speeds and direction. In addition, it can be used to monitor the condition of the train and tracks, such as identifying flat wheels. The two railway lines which run between Ar-Riyadh and Ad-Dammam will see the DAS technology integrated into SRO’s main operations centres.

The contract marks a further success in the Middle East for OptaSense, with the DAS system already being used on many oil & gas pipelines and facilities in the region.  This contract follows other successful rail projects in Germany, Austria, UK and the USA.

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, said  “We are committed to enabling our customers achieve the maximum availability of their assets to protect their revenues and reduce operational costs. Our DAS solution will enable SRO to monitor every metre of their rail line in real time and take appropriate action to reduce the impact of adverse events to ensure the highest level of security.”

Mr. Othman Al Othman, CEO of TAQQAT Global Co., one of Abdulla Fouad Group subsidiary installing the fibre cables commented, “We are very pleased that after a long but successful tender process, OptaSense’s DAS technology will come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance the safety and security of our railway lines. TAQQAT Global Co. – Abdulla Fouad Group is looking forward to a successful project implementation jointly with OptaSense.”

For further information please contact:


20 Jan 2014

OptaSense announces contract with Europe’s biggest rail provider – Deutsche Bahn Netz AG

January 20th, 2014

OptaSense and DB to jointly validate a set of fibre sensing tools designed to reduce the operating cost of rail track operation.

World leaders in fibre sensing, OptaSense are pleased to announce a collaboration with Europe’s biggest rail operator, Deutsche Bahn Netz AG, to validate a set of fibre sensing tools designed to reduce the operating cost of rail track operation. The 18 month collaboration will see the validation of bespoke software tools which record and report train and track events along Deutsche Bahn’s network.

The project, which commenced this month  was awarded to OptaSense in November 2013 following a competitive 10 month tender process, will verify the performance of OptaSense distributed acoustic sensing (“DAS”) to provide alerts and operational data for a large range of events. The collaboration will begin with eight priority applications which will be tested by DB Netz in all weather conditions over 18 months, with a view to giving DB Netz insights into the future of railway sensing:

The collaboration will report on the potential of DAS technology to reduce the number and cost of different sensor systems required to monitor the various train and track events. Commenting on the scope of work Mr Joern Schlichting, of Deutsche Bahn Netz AG, said : “We are very interested by the opportunities for this exciting technology, and believe that fibre optic sensing has the potential to replace many of our trackside sensors – greatly reducing the cost of running our network. Following technical trials in 2012 where we first validated the detection capability of OptaSense DAS technology we now seek to prove the business impact of this technology to deliver a multi-event detection capability within one trackside sensor deployment. We look forward to working with OptaSense over the next 18 months and using their sonar software and algorithm expertise to provide us with business tools that help us operate more efficiently.”

Magnus McEwen-King, Chief Executive of OptaSense, said: “We have been active in the railways since 2008 and are pleased to extend our collaboration with one of the industry’s leading companies to undertake a systematic approach to validate the potential for fibre sensing to change the status quo by combining multiple sensor function into one trackside fibre. Over the last 6 years we have validated a number of software modules independently e.g. intrusion detection or rock fall but for the first time we will be combining multiple capabilities into one implementation. Like Deutsche Bahn we firmly believe fibre sensing can reduce the costs associated with deploying and maintaining multiple different trackside sensor equipment and this project will provide the necessary validation of this belief.”

Upon successful validation of each event detection module, OptaSense and Deutche Bahn Netz AG will seek to commercialise the applications. The initial set of events and sensing requirements include:

  • Accurate platform announcements of the next train
  • Wheel flats and other wheel/rail interface problems
  • Hot axle box
  • Unauthorised access
  • Metal theft, vandalism and attack
  • Rock and tree fall detection
  • Animal detection
  • Train tracking with train integrity in real time

OptaSense’s DAS is in operation in over 40 countries globally, where it protects and monitors high-value assets in a range of other sectors – including oil and gas pipelines, borders and vital site perimeters, and is the world’s leading provider of fibre based vertical seismic profiling and hydraulic fracture profiling in the upstream O&G sector.

For further information please contact:

26 Nov 2013

OptaSense announces contract award from one of Europe’s largest rail providers – Austrian Rail, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG

November 26th, 2013

Using OptaSense technology for railway monitoring – targeting operational improvements and stopping metal thieves

Asset monitoring and infrastructure security experts OptaSense are pleased to announce an initial contract award with Austrian Rail, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, to use OptaSense’s patented Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system on its rail infrastructure near Vienna. The contract, which begins implementation this month, is targeted at improving operations and stopping unauthorised access on the railway – for example metal thieves and graffiti/vandalism.

Under an initial three month proof of concept contract, OptaSense will convert 40km of existing trackside communication fibre optic cables into thousands of virtual microphones, which will detect and classify activity along the entire length of the trackside fibre. The programme  will give control room operators real time data about activity along the rail line caused by metal theft attempts and vandalism on otherwise isolated parts of track. The real time data from OptaSense will be integrated into the ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG Security Control and Transport Police centres to enable a fast and effective response to any security alerts.

Klaus Leithner of Austrian Railways ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, commented: “We are very interested in the potential of this exciting technology and can see significant benefits in a Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system. Initially, we are focussing on detecting and apprehending metal thieves who cause disruption to our operational network

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, added: “We are pleased to be able to provide ÖBB with OptaSense technology which will enable them to monitor and reduce the impact of unauthorised intrusion on to their rail infrastructure by giving them Decision Ready Data™. We look forward to demonstrating the additional operational benefits of OptaSense to reduce their overall running and maintenance costs associated with events like wheel flats, hotbox and other track or train based issues.  

OptaSense has been commercially monitoring rail assets globally since 2008 and has monitored over 320km of track. This new contract with ÖBB in Austria builds on successes with the rail industry in Germany, the UK, and the US.