Safety Vision's Mark Sahinen

Today, the transit industry faces formidable fiscal, operational and societal challenges that will only intensify, tomorrow. Growing urban populations, traffic congestion, pollution concerns, higher gas prices — all these factors further complicate an increasingly complex service industry.

In addition to managing these challenges, transit authorities seek continuous improvements to service and efficiency while developing transportation solutions that appeal to the public. It’s all about what the customer wants. Authorities must offer the right services under the right conditions to boost ridership: Is it convenient? Is it reliable? Is it safe?

“Safe” is where we come in. Our onboard surveillance cameras may increase ridership by increasing customer confidence in public transit safety. They are a deterrent: Potential offenders might think twice about committing a crime under the watchful eye of a camera. When bad things do happen, the wrongdoers are more likely to be identified and prosecuted. And that likelihood strengthens the sense of safety and security for driver and public, alike.

In this dynamic industry, our security solutions incorporate the latest technological evolutions. Now and into the near future, our team is developing the “dream systems” that our transit clients envision. Today, we’re enjoying the fruits of technological possibilities hinted at 10 years ago, when digital recording first burst onto the scene.

In the coming year, we expect to see marked improvements in compression technology, compact flash card capacity, broadband width and wireless applications. And we see increased automation, greater storage capacity, easier system maintenance and streamlined data management.

Also on the horizon: Future surveillance solutions will be increasingly dependable, secure and interoperable. The latter is especially critical in emergency response and incident management. Facilitating information sharing among a consortium of public service entities is crucial. Our solution supports the shared goal of comprehensive and collaborative communications, all the while improving efficiency and enhancing safety.

Another emerging trend is the use of exterior mobile-rated cameras. As drivers change lanes, they can view feed from these cameras on dash-mounted monitors. This integration of live and recorded video reflects a shift from after-the-fact review of “what happened on the bus” to real-time, total situational awareness. The end results are improved driver performance and enhanced public safety.

Concern for the safety and security of personnel, passengers and property is what fuels the escalating demand for mobile video solutions. Initially, some drivers and citizens balked at the idea of onboard surveillance. We have seen that resistance erode. For example, we estimate that roughly 90 percent of drivers welcome surveillance — our systems are “riding shotgun” for them, gathering evidence and getting the real story.

Now that the systems have matured, drivers groups and transit management alike endorse mobile video surveillance. All parties — from drivers through maintenance and operations personnel to senior executives — appreciate benefits including irrefutable, court-admissible evidence and real-time remote look-in for proactive incident management. Everyone has good things to say: If you’re likewise committed to improving safety and security, get on board today. Why wait? Tomorrow may be too late.

Mark (“Rex Colorado”) Sahinen was recruited by Safety Vision founder Bruce Smith as the company’s first National Sales Manager in 1994. Since then, Sahinen has helped guide multiple branded lines of collision avoidance camera systems to market and develop several tiers of mobile video solutions, including onboard surveillance technology. Today, he manages a sales force of 40 while overseeing an evolving product line.