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4 Improvements in Video Surveillance For Public Transportation

Comprehensive and effective security systems are a necessity for public transport systems everywhere. Safety and crime are always a concern for both riders and transportation officials, and there are a host of situations where comprehensive security is warranted – whether IP camera systems or access control at stations.

Despite shrinking budgets and other demands, public transit systems throughout the US are continually upgrading and improving their security systems, making the investment to increase rider safety, decrease crime and build rider confidence in using public transportation. Increased security and surveillance also serves as a deterrent against fare evasion, potentially helping the transit authority save money.

1. Video Surveillance

While CCTV systems on public transportation – light rail, in particular – has never been the highest-quality, cities and transit authorities have been upgrading their systems in recent years to much newer, more powerful systems. IP Camera systems are already very popular with transit systems, and many authorities have recently made the leap to IP camera systems shooting in 4k – ensuring higher-quality video that allows for clearer replay and monitoring. Video also acts as an effective deterrent, backs up the transit authority during liability claims stemming from onboard incidents, and be tuned to cover incidents in progress.

4k has become popular not only for its higher resolution and quality, but also its low-light capabilities and better coverage. Pairing 4k cameras with wide camera lenses, or using 360-degree video cameras, means surveillance can cover more area with fewer cameras, reducing the bandwidth necessary and associated costs.

Some buses even display their video feeds on monitors at the front of the bus, allowing both drivers and riders to be aware of what is happening around them, all the time.

2. Video Storage and Downloading

At the same time, transportation officials are looking to decrease the bandwidth needed to store and transmit surveillance video – and are even opting for mobile and wireless options. 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.

These new camera systems will allow transit systems to increase security efforts and ensure a safer experience for everybody, while simultaneously cutting down on network bandwidth and aiming to save money in the process.

3. Smart Communication For Riders

To further enhance the safety and riding experience of their riders, some transit systems – such as Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Dallas Area Rapid Transit – have introduced apps that allow riders to report incidents, send photos and videos of safety concerns, and even pinpoint location via GPS for faster response from transit police.

4. Illuminating Dark Spots

A big hurdle that many transit systems need to overcome is the low amount of light usually found in stations and trains. Bright lighting not only makes a safer environment for passengers, increasing their confidence in taking transportation, but also allows surveillance cameras the light they need to get a bright and clear image. Combined with 4k cameras, bright lighting greatly enhances image quality and ensures video that can aid in the investigation of incidents that do occur.

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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