In 1981, the city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada opened the first leg of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line for the city's visitors and residents. Today, the LRT has more than doubled the number of stations, added two additional legs, and boasts around 95 million passengers per year. The system is now commonly referred to as the “CTrain” and includes 38 stations connecting 46 km of track. The three legs operate on 7th Avenue through the city's downtown area, and the resulting ten-station stretch in this high-density area is a Free Fare Zone that reduces transportation congestion in the heart of the city.
There are inherent challenges to monitoring and providing safe passage to CTrain's customers. A transit environment is necessarily fast-paced and must aim to ensure security without hindering a timely travel experience.
In searching for a suitable replacement for the CTrain's video surveillance system, several qualities were paramount. Calgary needed an open-platform system to maximize flexibility under strict procurement models, as well as a mature and proven piece of software that could easily integrate with their large monitor wall and run across multiple work stations. The CTrain also required a multitude of software configuration options and the ability to easily scale the system as needed based on the addition of new transit stations to the CTrain's constantly growing lines.
An IP solution was deemed most suitable, providing reduced infrastructure costs for a system that would be spread across a number of physical locations (i.e., stations), as well as increased system security. An added benefit would be the creation of a robust network. This would not only house the security platform, but also facilitate an evolution in the transit organization. The network would provide a technologically advanced backbone on which all aspects of the CTrain's management could rely and interplay smoothly.
Calgary issued an RFP (request for proposal) to learn about the options available. After evaluating Calgary's needs and the difficulties faced in a transit environment, Contava, a Genetec Unified Elite security integrator, submitted a bid based on Genetec's video surveillance platform. Following careful evaluations, Calgary selected Contava to design and implement their new security solution.
The CTrain system employs 471 Panasonic megapixel cameras with vandal-proof domes, which are capable of H.264 recording. An additional 23 Panasonic outdoor-rated PTZ (pan tilt zoom) cameras round out the arsenal. Panasonic IP encoders with H.264 compression capabilities are used where needed, allowing Calgary to save funds by making use of existing analog cameras leftover from the previous solution.
In addition, the downtown City Hall Information Technology Data Center houses centralized failover archiving of video and redundant directories, and the core network layer itself is redundant and configured in a multiple ring architecture. While the CTrain is open for business, three operators monitor the system's vast collection of camera feeds in real-time from a centralized location that features a two by nine array of 46-inch bezel-less Mitsubishi LCD monitors. System data can also be accessed from the OCC (Operations Control Centre) in Calgary's public safety office to track operators, and law enforcement can use this facility to request surveillance data for investigations. The system also has the capacity to provide offsite video access to law enforcement for increased response time, and privacy impact assessments are being conducted to investigate viability of this option. Citrix access is set up to allow remote maintenance of the system.