Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) has always been a leader in embracing new technology and is nationally recognized as a progressive organization. AATA was the first to develop, implement and use a coordinated computer-controlled communication and data gathering system incorporating GPS, onboard touch screen mobile data terminals, voice communication, automatic passenger counters, satellite- controlled voice enunciators and realtime engine operating data. A constant stream of digital information flows into the control center via radio and is instantly processed by computers into easily understandable and usable screen displays and reports.
AATA's leading-edge technology has paid benefits far beyond originalexpectations, but it is its camera system that continues to contribute in ways that were never anticipated. The 100+ gig hard drives are capable of documenting a constant flow of 27 images per second (with sound) simultaneously from all five cameras for a period of about a week of bus operation before over-recording begins.
Originally installed as a safety and security feature, the video camera system consists of four or five digital cameras onboard each bus (giving complete interior coverage of the vehicle, with one camera mounted on the front dash recording what the driver sees out the front windshield). The installation of the cameras brought an immediate unexpected benefit by allowing AATA to better investigate allegations of slip and fall incidents.
Having access to video and audio recordings of slip and fall incidents has expanded to include the use of in-service onboard video recordings as a training tool. Each time a video recording of an incident is reviewed, a decision is made whether to archive it in the training library. A continually growing library of "home movies" is being developed to demonstrate safe driving techniques, what to do and what not to do in resolving passenger disputes, and how to maintain positive passenger relations.
Trainees are able to see first hand how their peers handle situations. In addition, existing employees with documented performance problems can watch themselves in action to see where improvement is needed. A picture truly becomes worth a thousand words.
These "home movies" of real-life operations are projected on a large wall-sized screen in AATA's state-of-the-art training room. This projection makes the figures almost life-sized and the surround sound system makes students feel as though they are on the bus instead of in the audience.
The videos can be catalogued according to their subject matter and easily stored electronically. Being in digital form, they can also be transmitted to any computer equipped with viewing software within the AATA network so that supervisors or managers may view them.
Each onboard camera can be accessed and played back individually, enabling the trainer to provide several different views of the same incident. One camera may show the passenger's body language, while another may illustrate how the driver reacts to the customer's body movements. Other cameras give insights into how the other passengers are reacting to incidents.
The camera mounted on the dash is used for safety training to familiarize students with hazardous intersections, to remind them of the importance of maintaining safe following distances, and how to safely maneuver in congested downtown traffic. The new student can view an entire route to become familiar with important turns and recognizable landmarks before attempting to negotiate the route.
The inside cameras are ideal in demonstrating to students the effects rapid acceleration, sudden deceleration and sudden changes in direction have upon passengers sitting or standing inside the bus. Students can watch their fellow drivers interact with customers seeking information, discussing complaints and concerns, or expressing appreciation to the driver for a job well done.