Magazine Button
How transit companies can be boosted by effective use of data

How transit companies can be boosted by effective use of data

Enterprise SecuritySoftwareTop StoriesTransport
Los Angeles at night. Long exposure shot of blurred bus speeding through night street.

The effective use of data can be hugely beneficial to transit companies with advances in technology creating the ability to record nearly anything that happens on public transport. Jermaine Santoya, Industry Marketing Manager – Intelligent Mobility, Genetec, tells Intelligent CIO about the major benefits transit organizations can receive when using a unified security platform such as Security Center.

What are the major benefits of transit organizations using a unified security platform?

Increased operational efficiency, increased collaboration and decision support based on data. Let me break down each one.

Increased operational efficiency

Historically many agencies built their security and operational systems in separate silos that rarely interface. Unifying these systems into one platform reduces overall costs of operator training while enabling the automation of some repetitive tasks.

A great example of this is video surveillance camera maintenance.

Imagine an agency owning three video surveillance systems: one for all security across stations, another to track the arrivals and departures of transit vehicles, and the last one to provide onboard video monitoring for all vehicles. In order to maintain them and ensure they are active and functioning well, the agency either needs three sets of operators or highly trained operators that know all three systems. These operators need to validate that the cameras are recording manually; something which is both time consuming and costly.

Now instead, imagine an agency that owns one video surveillance system that ingests video streams for all cameras. This is one system for operators to be trained on, one system to maintain and one system to consult when video needs to be reviewed. Additionally, camera health validation can be automated via video analytic solutions applied to one system – something either not possible or extremely costly to do over three separate systems.

This increased efficiency goes beyond one system. An open platform can add the data collected by other systems such as fire detection, intrusion control, access control, etc. Because all the data exists in one platform, event-to-action rules can be created and incidents can be detected via correlation. For example, the activation of a fire alarm can trigger the 10 nearest cameras to appear on the screen of operators, while at the same time automatically causing all exit doors to open to ensure an easy flow for passenger evacuation.

Increased collaboration

Security and operational silos also get in the way of efficient knowledge transfer by technological means. Modern technology is designed to be interconnected, and in this increasingly technological world, emerging innovations rely on interconnectivity more and more. To build your technology stack on a siloed architecture is to stunt your growth and overall effectiveness.

In this context, a unified platform (like Security Center) enables transit agencies to build systems that encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. One video surveillance system can be shared by security, maintenance and operational teams. Each team is limited in their toolset to the departmental requirements to avoid overreach, but relevant knowledge gained by one team is easily accessible to all. The same can be said for access control, intrusion detection, onboard systems, intercom systems and more. Not to mention that this means one platform for IT to manage.

Data-backed decision support

Does train station X need more security barriers on its platforms? Do we need to dispatch field personnel to a location? Why is bus line Y always late? Do we need more busses between points A and B?

These are all questions that require data to make an informed decision. It’s likely that most agencies have the majority of this information in their systems, but no method to take advantage of it as most security and operational systems exist in silos. A unified platform ingests this data, normalises it and allows users to report on it in a simple and concise manner that facilitates analysis.

Moreover, having your data centralized and normalised in a unified platform allows for the use of advanced analytics and correlation engines to filter real-time events logged by the system, in order to highlight events of importance.

What is the benefit to these organizations of being able to (a) Track all events in their vehicles (b) Record and retrieve actionable information efficiently?

Tracking all events in a vehicle gives the detailed history needed to investigate incidents and improve operations. Incidents can be as mundane as a customer complaint about bus tardiness or as serious as a vehicle accident.

Having all the events tracked and synchronized with onboard video recordings means investigators will get a complete picture of the actions that lead to the incident – recordings of the incident, from various angles and with sensor data that indicates if the vehicle was breaking, accelerating to one side or another, etc.

This can help shed light on events that could impact the transit agency’s reputation. It can be shown that the late bus was delayed by construction or that the bus driver was not at fault in the traffic accident.

Having all this data is great, but just as important as capturing the data is the ease with which it is captured and then shared. When an incident occurs, time is often of the essence. Being able to retrieve onboard data efficiently can make the difference between an informed response to an incident and an inadequate one.

How can transit agencies use technology to provide safe journeys for their customers, while also having the right systems in place to ensure efficient operations?

Technological solutions to passenger safety and efficient operations start at the system architecture level. The system put in place throughout a transit agency needs to be designed as an open platform because technology advances so quickly.

There are a large number of technologies that can improve passenger safety: unified onboard video surveillance, SIP-based emergency intercoms, incident detection video analytics, restricted area sensors and more. However, the solutions of today may not be the most efficient tomorrow, which means a transit agency needs to be ready to invest in adding new solutions as they become available. By limiting a system to proprietary, closed solutions, certain transit agencies are limiting their future options.

Overall, technological advances allow sensors to be used to track and record nearly anything that happens on public transit. Area occupancy, passenger behavior, incident detection, restricted area control, vehicle health and emergency intercoms are only certain areas where technologies already exist to collect information that allows public transit agencies to secure their premises for passenger safety.

Can you explain how a unified system can establish an infrastructure that facilitates sharing data while keeping it secure?

A unified system keeps all data normalised in one location. Security Center and other Genetec products rely on the latest cybersecurity practices to secure the data. By relying on one unified infrastructure, customers also get a system that is easier to manage from a security perspective.

There are fewer security patches to install that could cause compatibility issues. Data becomes simple to share within the platform in a secure manner because access to data is controlled in a granular manner and with the principle of role-based access to information. This means a user only gets the data they need to accomplish their role, no more.

How can transit organizations benefit from a video management system (VMS)?

Video monitoring provides visual evidence of all events taking place on the premises managed by a public transit agency. By truly unifying the VMS into one platform like Security Center, public agencies gain the advantages of using a single pane of glass for all their video management. Whether the video comes from the furthest installation, a train, a bus or the agency’s headquarters, all video lives in the same location and uses the same tools for investigation.

This makes recording retrieval much easier than having to manage separate systems for each different application. Additionally, an open platform like Security Center provides users with the flexibility of choosing their own hardware and not be limited by a specific brand or product line.

What are the main purposes of an access control system?

For transit purposes access control is used in three applications:

  1. Traditional access control: This is the access control used by most organizations to give access to staff to their premises. Think of limiting offices and maintenance closets in transit hubs to staff only. Typical solutions for this involve card readers and magnetic doors.
  2. Restricted area control: This is intrusion prevention and detection for areas where no one should be. This is much more prevalent for agencies that manage trains or subway tunnels. In those instances, there are tracks, tunnels and ventilation shafts to secure. Typical solutions for this involve motion sensors, LiDAR sensors and intercoms for deterrence.
  3. Unmanned infrastructure protection: This is the protection and monitoring of equipment cabinets that are left in remote locations. These cabinets usually hold network equipment and securing them is both a physical security priority to prevent theft and a cybersecurity priority to prevent cyberattacks through that network access point.

What are the main benefits of automatic license plate recognition (ALPR)?

ALPR technology in transit allows agencies to track individual vehicles entering their parking lots. This information can be leveraged to enforce parking payment rules, but it can also be used in collaboration with other technology partners to incentivise carpooling and other measures to reduce the carbon footprint of commuters.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Magazine Cover

View Magazine Archive