Ready for IP? Taking a Ride with IP Surveillance

Faced with many threats to security, such as terrorists and accidents on platforms or tracks, many major metros have updated surveillance systems to increase ridership or ease transportation bottlenecks. A&S explores IP surveillance infrastructure for metros, network challenges, and core products and technology.

Numerous attacks on metro facilities have spurred efforts to prevent future incidents. Big budgets have been earmarked to renovate legacy surveillance systems and infrastructure with advanced technology. In the wake of the Madrid and London train bombings, trust in the safety of public transportation has declined, and transit authorities realize that any hope for future solvency lies in state-of-the-art security and surveillance systems.

"Passenger safety is also tied directly to return on investment (ROI) motivation of the transportation organizations," said Nir Hayzler, Vice President of Marketing at Nice Systems. "Transportation organizations would like to increase the number of passengers using their services while competing with alternative means of transportation. In order to compete effectively, they need to create a safe environment for their passengers, free of thieves, pickpockets and vandals."

Major incidents such as train accidents, fires, floods, and terrorist attacks have been an issue for transit agencies and transit management. Terrorism is still at the top of list of threats of transit management. Transport systems are also vulnerable to vandalism, graffiti, theft from car parks, staff and passenger assaults, and ticket avoidance. "Arson is a significant and growing problem, as the largest single cause of major fires in the U.K. with over 50 percent of all insured fire losses in the U.K. now attributed to this cause," highlighted one BSIA report. Then, there is the rising number of unattended items. Every year, over 130,000 items of lost property are dealt with by London Underground staff. That amounts to almost 300 unattended items claimed every day.

Metro stations pose dilemmas for security providers. There is special concern over design of network infrastructure and surveillance systems. Stations need to remain open for all commuters, but be secure enough to protect passenger lives. Kay Wright of the British Security Industry Association pointed out that, "Security needs to be flexible to avoid unnecessarily restricting passenger access, while maintaining protection of staff, premises, vehicles, rolling stock, depots and maintenance operations. In this sense, transport security is akin to that of a hospital, with both areas requiring a level of open access for those using their facilities."

IP Video Surveillance Infrastructure

Video surveillance is the most effective means of enhancing security in metros, said Hayzler, as it "provides visual insight to events, enabling metro operators to understand the situation better, resolve it faster, and investigate it more effectively. Not of lesser importance is the fact that video cameras have proven to have a deterring effect by their mere presence, since potential criminals fear that their actions may be monitored and recorded. In addition, although the video surveillance system is first about security, the right solution can be used, in many cases, to support and enhance additional domains beyond security, and provide a proven ROI to the organization," explained Hayzler.

The core of any IP surveillance system is still video. Integrators need to have knowledge of the bandwidth that it requires for video data transmission. That is the top priority in constructing a basic network infrastructure for surveillance.

Distributed Architecture with Dynamic Bandwidth Management

In metros, users accessing the video network include staff in the operation center, local monitoring centers and central control centers. The connection may be limited by different bandwidth provided by different networks between stations, inside the local station or other remote places. Connecting systems located in different stations increases demand for high-performance management software and special network infrastructure. Some security providers, such as Teleste and Nice, have introduced special solutions to cater to these requirements.

"An efficient system," said Johan Slotte, Senior Vice President of Video Networks and Corporate Business Development at Teleste, "should include dynamic bandwidth managementability to retrieve and share recorded material efficiently as well as allow recorded material to be stored in different geographical locations if neededwhich ensures real-time access between stations for different user layers while the video is transmitted in peak situations. Meanwhile, security issues including authentication are also being taken care of."

Metro stations, said Hayzler, require solutions that can handle distributed architecture and adapt level of video transmitted to different bandwidth constraints to provide the best quality bandwidth ratio to each user. That might involve a local supervisor at the same station, a remote user connecting over the web or WAN, or a security officer on the move connecting via wireless network.

All these requirements imply that an effective IP video surveillance solution for metros should be flexible enough to support distributed architecture by providing different levels of service to different users (high-quality, real-time video to users located on the local network) with no bandwidth limitations (lower resolution or frame rates to users situated in remote monitoring stations connected over WAN).

Ring Fiber Optic Backbone & Wireless Communications

To ensure transmission of huge amounts of video data in real time to monitoring sites in different places without delay, connection throughout stations is based on fiber optics. Multi-site networking can be conducted over fiber optic, ISDN or LAN for remote monitoring, said Georg Winkler, Sales Director at Commend International. The basic infrastructure used is based on fiber optics in local area networks.

Data from vehicles to central stations is sent via wireless systems. Most industry experts agree that a fiber-based system is the most reliable and flexible system for metros. "A Wimax system is based on a central point from which signals are transmitted. The fiber capacity is very many times higher than a Wimax system. Each station is wired as a WAN, and then linked over a redundant ring fiber backbone delivering contra-routed GigE throughput. If the IP network is designed properly, it can be a tool for creating a really robust system with a distributed architecture," explained Slotte. For station-to-vehicle communication, wireless broadband mesh networks allow real-time streaming of video footage from inside transit vehicles to any emergency situation.

Barriers to Full IP

Multiple users, limited bandwidth, and a variety of electronic systems and technologies from multiple vendors present challenges. Surprisingly, many systems are still based on older technology, with analog and digital hybrid systems. "IP systems are often isolated, station-specific systems," said Slotte, "and stations often have different types of technologies from multiple vendors. There are relatively few large CCTV systems integrating different station-wide systems into one networked solution. One example of such networked solutions is in Ile de France (around Paris)."

The main challenges in migration to pure IP systems are twofold. One is that less experienced systems integrators are pushing the market. They might have experience with IP networks, but few have know-how when it comes to IP video systems. "Video systems have special requirements that differ from standard IP networks because of the large bandwidth needed and peaks caused by accidents such as fire," said Slotte. Secondly, interoperability issues stem from integration of different devices. In metros, multiple security devices are provided by multiple vendors. Most are proprietary, causing difficulties in integration.

IP Video Surveillance Systems

Integration with Access Control, Alarm & Intercoms
There is a definite trend toward development of a common platform. With IP, technology management becomes more flexible, scalable and efficient, said Matt Caine, General Manager of Controlware UK. Management Softwarethe key in the whole systemcreates interfaces to existing systems and, thus, integrates them into a network.

The most important role of management software is to provide risk mitigation. "It brings all information to a central location and incorporates workflows to ensure response follows predefined polices and procedures," said Michael Godfrey, CTO at Visual Defence. "Additionally, it prioritizes events to make sure operators are reacting to the most important events, which allows for reporting to review security event response operations, thereby providing metrics to use for ongoing improvements.

When the operator acknowledges this alarm, he is presented with step-by-step instructions for how to respond to that event. These instructions have been configured by the security manager as a workflow chart and include automatic actions, such as locked door or the appropriate camera automatically displayed on the video management screen. Other steps will require manual interaction and response, such as an instruction to call ground security to investigate and record name of who is investigating or verify there is someone on the tracks."

Metros also feature escalators; hydraulic passenger lifts; communication links (public address, intercom and two-way radio); video surveillance; and smoke, gas and fire detection systems, said Winkler. The latest trend is to link disparate security subsystems. "Video and audio could very well be combined in one system," said Slotte. "Access control is usually a separate system. However, management software can create links between access control, alarms and video so that when alarms are triggered by intruders, video systems are automatically directed to them." Within integrated systems, all signals and messages can be integrated and cross-checked.

Visual Defence's software provides a single point of management for an unlimited number of subsystems. It can view video streams from CCTV systems and storage devices, and receive alarms from systems like access control, video analytics and intrusion detection, bringing all information into a central location. Safety can be increased inside the stations to include more automated responses to incidents and speed up the delivery of standard response scenarios to perceived threats. "In many cases," said Hayzler, "metros choose to integrate video with additional sensors to enhance situational awareness, so instead of just having an access control sensor at the door, one can place a camera that looks at the doorway and is triggered by that access control."

Another key product, intercom systems, also play an important role in securing station managers and the general public on platforms, in depots, car parks, lifts, ticket booths and during general security situations. By providing two-way communication, intercom systems can add to the one-way surveillance that CCTV offers. Normally, intercom and video go on the same network. All passengers can alert a control room by calling from a help point when they notice something suspicious, said Winkler. It allows intergration with CCTV and access control, networking over very large distances for group control strategies. It directs links to a centralized control room, providing either travel information or emergency assistance.

Integration with Other Systems?

While things like the railway signaling system, electronic ticketing machine and automation devices are not typical security devices, they can still reside on the same network as the security systems and be integrated into the management system. In this way, the management system can also act as an operations system. In many cases, non-surveillance systems are independent of video networks, but all can be controlled by one central control room. "Other systems connect video surveillance solutions to index video based on these events. Every time there is a transaction, the video is tagged accordingly, making investigation easier and faster," said Hazlyer.

"As everything is now in a format that lends itself to dissemination," said Slotte, "information can be sent to other agencies as well. Apart from traditional feeds into metro security headquarters, there are also feeds into central offices for real estate management, passenger flow rates and timetable updates."

For many transit authorities, said Godfrey, security is not the only concern. Many are also concerned with operations (staying on schedule, vehicle maintenance). These elements can be and are often worked into the same central management system. In order to link other systems, security vendors usually provide partners and customers with integration on the software level with different systems through an SDK and a set of APIs, said Hayzler.

Trends in Function and Design

In terms of system design and functions, operations staff wants more automationmore intelligent functions embedded into one system and a single point of control for more functions in GUI format. Design and interface should be easy to use and seamlessly scalable from a few stations to several hundred station-wide systems.

"Most networks in metro stations are redundant," said Godfrey. "Additionally, many sites are set up to carry out local recording if the network is down. When the network comes back up, local recorded video is then available in the system." Another technology used to prevent network failure was introduced by Controlware. "Automatic Network Replenishment (ANR) has been developed to guard against network failure," said Caine. "ANR constantly monitors and logs network status. In the event of any failure in the network, a dual recording principal records both centrally and locally at the camera."

Furthermore, intelligent video analysis automatically monitors video streams to determine activities, events or behavior that might be considered suspicious, providing appropriate responses when such actions occur. This may involve left luggage or people moving in the wrong direction. "Intelligent video analysis integrates with existing analog or digital systems," said Caine, "maximizing efficiency and effectiveness of security personnel and resources, while increasing probability of preventing security threats and false alarms. It can help filter important information and alarm conditions directly to the operator."

Slotte also stressed the future importance of data management, especially in the transportation sector. Every day, the network needs to transmit a huge quantity of data. The way it saves the data and manages those will become another crucial issue.
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