Because of all the challenges facing transit agencies, IP cameras are becoming an increasing popular solution to face new issues. Incorvati says airport authorities, port authorities, railway systems and other large agencies have latched onto the technology and right now about half of the transit agencies in the United States are at least moving toward IP cameras. By 2016, Incorvati says that number is expected to jump to 80 percent.
Wear and tear from IP cameras can also make some transit providers shy away from switching to the technology, so security system providers are finding ways to make sure IP cameras can not only withstand constant shock and vibration while on a transit vehicle, but also withstand vandals and a wide range of temperature extremes.
“There’s no question we’re going down this path,” Incorvati says.
More Than Security
Moti Shatai, vice-president of security operations for transportation with Nice Systems, says transit customers are looking for systems that will not only provide security for riders, but also help streamline overall operations. While some cameras are surveying tracks and trains to make sure no one is going onto the tracks, other cameras will count the number of riders in order to make sure trains lines are running as efficiently as possible and serve busier lines to curb overcrowding. One area where transit operators will be looking into this will be the 2014 Super Bowl being held in New Jersey, Shatai says, where transit operators will need to determine how to best get thousands of attendees to the game in an already busy system.
Shatai says the main challenges software developers are handling with the systems is understanding what it is the customers want and then fine tuning the systems to get the maximum performance out of the systems. However, the single biggest challenge for the technology is detecting one incident in real time while overcoming environmental issues for the cameras. Shatai says some systems have to overcome snow and fog, shaking by passing transit and high winds.
With transit systems still working to get back on track in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country due to Hurricane Sandy, transit systems are also using the cameras to become fully operational.
“We’re seeing in real time now, in New York City they are using it more and more right now,” Incorvati says. “Right now they’re probably not looking for pit pockets, but how much water is in the tunnels or how the operations are working after an incident like this.”
Continued Evolution of Technology
The security systems have moved well past motion detection on cameras, Shatai says, and are now working to create more analytics of what it is viewing. Cameras need to determine if movements are of animals or people and why the object is moving in order to understand what the system is seeing and reduce the number of false alerts.
The systems are using a self-learning set of algorithms as part of behavioral analytics, so the cameras can determine why someone is running in a station while others are walking and then learn what could be considered normal behavior.
“Anything can be calibrated, but there is a learning time,” Shatai says. “But it’s pretty quick. It’s not like days or months. It’s minutes. It’s basically minutes.”
BRS Labs, which created the AISight behavior recognition software, not only films operational issues and potential safety risks, but documents and analyzes the behavior in order to allow transit providers to see a bigger picture of what is going on in its system. It also allows security and transit leaders to not only see what’s going on in the system, but to understand why the actions are happening.
“It’s really from the straightforward concept that where there’s knowledge, there’s power,” Company President John Frazzini says. He also says the technology is being embraced by some of the largest transit providers in the United States and around the world because the new technology allows for safety and security, while operating to provide for better efficiencies on the systems and finding ways to provide safer working environments.
The software can be used with a lot of existing equipment as well and takes several days of training for employees, so Frazzini says it has made the new technology very attractive for transit agencies who have yet to invest in the technology.