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Transit operators turn to onboard video surveillance for safety

Transit operators turn to onboard video surveillance for safety
More and more, video surveillance is deployed on public transportation, which increasingly relies on cameras systems to maintain passenger and staff safety.
More and more, video surveillance is deployed on public transportation, which increasingly relies on cameras systems to maintain passenger and staff safety. At the same time, advances in these systems make surveillance and monitoring even more effective.

Needless to say, videos surveillance has played a significant part in maintaining the safety of end user entities. Increasingly, subway, train and bus operators have realized the benefits of video surveillance, which is now seen in an increasing number of public transportation systems.

This trend is indicated by a joint survey by Axis Communications and the International Association of Public Transport on metro, bus and train operators. According to the survey, almost all responders have surveillance cameras installed in their systems, with only 2.7 percent of responders stating that they do not. As for the locations of the cameras, they are predominantly installed at stations (81 percent), onboard (75.6 percent) and at depots and railyards (70.2 percent).

Further according to the survey, the major motives for installing cameras systems include: Increase actual security and safety for staff (81.1 percent); minimize, deter and manage various types of criminality (78.4 percent); help investigations into crime, injury, accidents and others (70.3 percent); and increase perceived security and safety for staff (68.9 percent).

Meanwhile, the value of video analytics is also more and more realized by public transport operators, according to the survey, which cites the following analytics as having the most awareness: intrusion, perimeter breach, face recognition, rail track access, fire and smoke, left luggage and overcrowding. While these are mostly security-related, it should also be pointed out that analytics like people counting and overcrowding are increasingly used for operational efficiency and user experience purposes.

More advanced technologies deployed

Meanwhile, with more advances in video surveillance technologies, operators are upgrading their systems to reflect these advances, which include the following.

Better-quality cameras

It goes without saying that for most public transportation operators, they are deploying IP cameras which offer good resolution, are easier to install and allow better integration with other systems. More and more, operators go for 4K cameras, which capture images in high resolution and have better lowlight features, allowing administrators to see everything in better detail day or night. In addition, operators are also deploying 360-degree panoramic cameras (fisheyes or multi-sensors) that allow wider coverage with fewer cameras and software licenses.

Video storage and downloading

With video resolution becoming higher, ensuring effective bandwidth consumption has also become key. In this regard, there are now more technology advances that operators can leverage. “In Boston, for example, the MBTA has started using cameras with both Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, allowing transit operations control to view the video remotely, as well as automatically offload video wirelessly once buses and trains have returned to the station. They also use video trickling to minimize the bandwidth necessary for downloading. Each bus has 6 different interior and exterior cameras to ensure 360-degree coverage during their routes,” said a post by Safe and Sound Security.

Illuminating dark spots

Needless to say, the camera alone cannot contribute to good-quality images; another key factor is lighting and illumination which a lot of transit authorities have made investments in. “Combined with 4k cameras, bright lighting greatly enhances image quality and ensures video that can aid in the investigation of incidents that do occur,” the post said. “For this reason, transit authorities have made large investments in installing lighting in their stations, buses and trains over the past few years. The Chicago Transportation Authority, for example, is investing over $15 million into lighting upgrades over the next two years.”

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