Surveillance CCTV camera networks have helped make city streets safer in America for the past several years. Police have benefited from using of CCTV surveillance in catching criminals after the event or sometimes when the crime is in progress. Now that surveillance equipment has been used on moving in-vehicle transit buses for over a decade, the effects have proven successful in possibly being a deterrent or help in making the arrest after the incident has been perpetrated. However some public transit riders on the Los Angeles Metro system have been embolden to commit crimes in the face of being seen by the onboard cameras. Those riders may sense they can “get away with it” and just get off at the next stop; knowing it is just too difficult for safety resources to piece together the camera evidence and to investigate and pursue them after the incident occurred.
An investigative story done by the Los Angeles Times recently revealed that of the surveyed riders using the LA Metro system, one in five passengers were subject to unwanted sexual advances or behavior while riding Metro trains and buses (in Los Angeles County during the first half of 2014). In contrast, the LA Times’ reported that LA Metro and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department received only 99 complaints in 2014, despite having millions of passengers each year. The LA Times article went on to imply it is a mystery why such low number of passengers called the police to report that they been harassment.
I believe that live-video surveillance and instant alerts could reduce or prevent “harassments” if safety resources were sent to the scene in a moment’s notice as the incident is still on going. Would passengers feel safer if authorities were notified of an incident without victims being actively involved (calling the authority, taking the time to ID a suspect, wonder if the suspect will do it again next time)?
Driver operators must still be vigilant for the passenger safety, however with instant alerts and video, drivers could take a snapshot of the action and send it to the supervisor for quick risk assessment. It would work like a silent alarm that triggers the supervisor to view in real time, monitor the route and send evidence to patrol vehicles so they can question the suspect as he or she exits the vehicle. This soft introduction and questioning by the police could cause the suspect to change his/her behavior in a heartbeat knowing they are on notice. This instant look scenario is possible since the barriers to streaming live video is no longer coverage prohibitive since 4G is nearly ubiquitous everywhere.
The benefits of having 4G integrated within in-vehicle surveillance systems are many. The most important reason for live-video is accessing a real-time stream and knowing instantaneously the activities onboard in crucial times. With live video you can immediately see the escalation of a potential threat. Video enables supervisors to see what drivers are doing on their routes and monitor road conditions in real-time by simply using 4G SIM cards in fully-integrated surveillance systems. Alternatively, other operators may prefer a solution that allows communication between the driver and command center to take place at a push of a button. Delivering an alert, of a potential threat to management in real-time so they can take action accordingly; takes the blazing speed only 4G can deliver. 4G provides a faster and more stable network environment for video streaming, especially in a moving buses and trains.
Having video surveillance manually back up could be a labor intensive chore without the help of Wi-Fi for automatic uploading. Many of these surveillance videos are just saved onboard, since the operator does not have an efficient process for backing up video to a server. In an ideal environment, surveillance systems should be set to automatically backed-up daily recorded video whenever the transit vehicles returns and be in range of the Wi-Fi network. A mobile DVR that has Wi-Fi and 4G offers the most reliable and convenient way to access recorded and live video footage while the vehicle is on the road.
Live video feed can potentially make everyone on-board feel safer even if it never needs to get used. LA Metro spokesperson told the LA Times, "we want passengers to know this isn't a part of life." Live video and alerts could just be the right tactic to prevent potential perpetrators from pushing the boundaries of improper contact. Video surveillance can be an exceptionally effective deterrent to crimes, since suspects can be caught-in-the-act in real-time.
Robert Fuchs is the marketing manager of PlustekSecurity, a manufacturer of security surveillance products that provide a variety of recording solutions for all surveillance needs for mobile and in-vehicle recording systems, including fully integrated software hardware solutions.