More and more Indian cities are also building metro rail systems to improve their public transport infrastructure.
The Indian railways is one of the largest networks in the world, covering a total route length of 126,511 kilometers and transporting about 8 billion passengers a year. But although trains are an integral part of Indian life, not much has been done over the years to improve their operations. This is especially true of security systems at the train stations.
More and more Indian cities are also building metro rail systems to improve their public transport infrastructure. While these are better equipped and modern than the national rail, security in metro coaches and stations is also an essential step for governments.
Realizing the importance of all this, authorities have recently taken a slew of measures to protect people and assets at stations. Helping them with video technology in this has been Milestone Systems. The company has been part of several national rail as well as metro rail projects in the recent past.
Protecting passengers and assets
"We have done quite a few projects for the railways and metros," explained Sandesh Kaup, Country Manager for Milestone Systems. "Metro Railways have several cameras and a local ruggedized recording system. We have provided around 3000 camera licenses. The recording happens locally on the train, and as soon as it reaches a station, the video data gets moved from the train to the control room. This is something we have done in the North."
Milestone's national railway projects were predominantly about providing a video management platform handling all the cameras localized to each station. The railways also have centralized monitoring in each headquarters where they monitor all these cameras.
What does the rail sector require?
Kaup points out that there are two major requirements that central railways and metro rail authorities look to fulfill. These include the use of solutions that help manage incident response as well as identity management.
"A major requirement for metros and railway is forensics search which would help security teams search for people based on the color of a dress they wear, size of bag they carry, etc. If there is an incident and the security teams want to search for certain people, forensic features become integral because of the large number of cameras that are in place. It's very difficult to find a specific thing in a video when there are hours of footage from several thousand cameras.”
The second essential requirement that railways are exploring is the use of facial recognition systems. Recent developments in analytics have improved the accuracy and efficiency of facial recognition systems, and authorities find them increasingly reliable in ensuring safety and security.
"The face recognition algorithms have improved so much over the years, especially because of the real-time data systems are handling," Kaup continued. "Railways are slowly deploying it. In the next five years or so, this database will be so huge that every person in India or at least in the urban areas could be part of it. A lot of airports today are experimenting and testing this, even to replace boarding passes."
Kaup added that Milestone's open platform had helped it provide the railways with any analytic requirement. As the deep learning modules progress, behavior analytics that helps manage crowded environments could also become a part of the system, allowing the railways to streamline passenger management operations better.
Encouraging response from the customer
As several incidents have shown, security has been a significant concern in railways and train stations. But ensuring security includes several challenges because of the nature of how railways work.
"A metro station has about 70-100 cameras, and the same goes with the railway stations," Kaup said. "Metro rails have a fixed time, which makes them relatively easier to monitor, but the Indian railways work 24/7. Trains continuously come in and leave stations while most stations have a large number of people at any given time, making security difficult. We have seen that using cameras authorities can actually see what is happening real-time, with warnings on any abnormalities that can help take prompt action."
More metros coming up, increasing demand
More and more Indian cities are adopting metro rail, and Milestone sees this as an opportunity for their business, as security is a priority for all.
The Gujarat government recently announced metro rail in all the smaller cities," Kaup said. “The first phase of India's metro plans was in cities like Kolkata and Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. Now, if you see, there's a metro coming up between Kanpur and Agra. Lucknow metro is also now up and running."
Railway security is a growing priority
Safe and efficient public transport is an integral part of India's growth story. This year, the Indian finance minister more funds than the previous years in her Railway Budget speech. The railways have also been in the process of rapid modernization, setting a target for complete electrification by next year.
Security would continue to remain an essential factor as the railways’ progress, and video technology would significantly affect how threats are detected and managed.