The industrial-scale theft of copper telecommunications cables is a massive problem: in the UK alone, cable worth £770 million was stolen from overhead and buried telephone lines and railway signalling systems last year.
Now an artificially-intelligent sensing system is helping to prevent such thefts in the UK, the Adaptive and Resilient Systems workshop in London heard last week.
"It's proven absolutely fantastic," says Luke Beeson, general manager for cable theft prevention at British Telecom (BT). "Police in Kent, London and South Yorkshire have made arrests thanks to the system – and although cables are still being cut, fewer are being stolen because we are getting to the scene quicker. And that means people's phones are back on line faster."