In addition to the quick response time, Cook said the calling stations also instill confidence in ridersbecause they can figure out how to contact someone quickly.
“They’re a no-brainer,” Cook said. “It’s a big, red button.”
Alek Kireyenka, marketing manager for Talk-A-Phone, said transit agencies have asked for emergency phones inside of train vehicles, in stations and parking areas in order to give riders direct access to law enforcement in the event of an emergency. In subway lines, phones are also placed along walls with blue beacons above them so riders can call in the event of a train getting stuck without worrying about getting a signal.
In recent years the company has taken things a step further with some agencies asking for phone units that can also shut down power to train tracks in the event of an emergency. Kireyenka cited a 2009 incident in Chicago where a person fell onto the tracks, but was not hurt because the train was able to be stopped.
Such units have also been put into service for light rail service in Phoenix and in the Sacramento Regional Transit District.
Kireyenka said transition points for transit are also becoming areas where emergency phones are requested, such as an airport or parking area, with some asking for modifications like taller light beacons so they’re not blocked by buses or other large vehicles in the area.
“We’ve had some interesting applications in conjunction with some of our technology partners we work with as well,” he said. “In one application [what] we’ve seen is basically taking our phones and connecting them to the wireless mesh network so that way we can build the network alongside the tracks, so our phones will be essentially hopping from one phone to the next to solve the connectivity problems. Everything is going IP and the national trend in the marketplace is going IP for telecommunications.”
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Cook saidauthorities learned the importance of social media and with technology used in the contact stations, agencies can quell any rumors that arise.
Rumors can run rampent on social media after a disaster and he said it’s important to address them.
“It allows them to address the public on Facebook or Twitter and calm the airs,” Cook said. “People out there are going to say all sorts of crazy stuff, but this gives ability to the property owners to set the record straight using that medium.”