Despite plummeting budgets for transit agencies across the country, officers are still tasked with finding ways to provide secure environments for transit workers and passengers. Each transit authority faces its own unique challenges in providing a secure environment and must be handled differently due to different climates and budget constraints.
In the past 10 years, many transit systems have turned to cameras to provide security to stations, trains and buses, but transit leaders and security officials are then stuck determining how to monitor the cameras and what to look for.
However, a new era in video surveillance is sweeping into transit authorities with the advent of more IP camera systems replacing the old analog systems and how transit systems monitor for problems. And according to Anthony Incorvati, business development manager for transportation at Axis Communications, he’s finding a lot of the same reaction to transit operators when they switch to the new systems.
“It just works,” Incorvati says. “You plug it in and it just works.”
Video surveillance on transit systems have been around for more than a decade and required significant investment in analog technology for agencies when they came around, which can scare some from switching to the new technology. However, many of the older systems can be used with newer technology and those in the industry say they need to keep solutions cost effective.
“One of our challenges is that the cost of an analog system is less than an IP system, so when we offer an IP-based solution, we need to be within the price range expected,” says Danny Peleg, director of marketing development for transit at Genetec. “And serverless solutions allow us to meet that price expectation and to be below it.”
Peleg said many customers in the rail industry are looking for software solutions when it comes to running both fixed and cameras that move, which they provide in order simplify their operations. Genetec is also providing a solution allowing for transit operators to get rid of servers for their camera systems in favor of delivering data wirelessly.
“You don’t need to install a server and you don’t need to maintain a server and in most cases, the server is the weakest piece in the puzzle,” Peleg says. “When there are issues, it’s usually the server.”
Analog Cameras March to Extinction
Unlike its analog predecessors, IP camera networks are not closed systems. The systems can be opened and viewed by multiple agencies if necessary and upgrade costs are slashed due to less of a need to replace the physical system. Incorvati says software upgrades can be performed to the systems and unlike old camera systems, they don’t need to be manually adjusted. The IP cameras themselves can also last up to seven years, further reducing replacement and upgrade costs.
“The analog system providers were all very closed,” Incorvati says. “Once a transit authority put in a certain provider, well guess what? They were married to that provider, but in this world we’re going into, it’s not the case at all.”
After the bombing of commuter trains in London in March 2003, safety officials had to wade through hours of video surveillance and find ways to piece together evidence of the incident, which took days to complete. With the IP systems, investigators looking into incidents on mass transit systems could now instantly get the evidence they were looking for. However, with the push toward IP systems after the London bombing, Axis Communications public relations specialist Domenic Locapo says it created a situation where the new systems were “oversold and underperformed,” what they were promised.
“It created a skepticism at the time,” he says. “But what I will tell you is now the systems are getting better and better.”