Speed Transportation Investigations with Integrated Video and Vehicle Metadata

Nov. 7, 2018
One of the best things about working for a video surveillance manufacturer is the ability to help solve problems for customers.

One of the best things about working for a video surveillance manufacturer is the ability to help solve problems for customers. It’s facilitating that ‘ah-ha’ moment, when a security or risk management officer finds the evidence they’re looking for, and the answer to the question they’ve been asking.

In the transportation industry, that question, unfortunately, comes with the possibility of a substantial liability claim payout. Was this bus driver speeding? Did this passenger slip and fall as a result of our infrastructure?  Video eliminates the guesswork that surrounds these types of investigations, and supplies the evidence needed to answer the question.

Years ago, finding video evidence in these scenarios meant manually pulling hard drives from a bus’s recorder and then watching hours of footage to try to pinpoint the exact timeframe where the incident occurred. This could take hours, or even weeks, depending upon how many buses and bus routes you managed.

These days, finding video evidence takes only seconds, provided you have the right hardware and software tools in place.

Video management software that integrates vehicle metadata – or data about your vehicles including speed, location, braking habits and other information – lets you very quickly narrow down your search to find what you’re looking for.  When used with mobile recorders that support automated video and data extraction over Wi-Fi, this type of software provides a complete visual overview of your entire transportation network, enabling you to quickly call up video evidence from any bus, based on just a few basic search parameters.

Let’s look at some real life examples where this investigative tool could be used:

Scenario No. 1 – Speeding Buses?

Your operations team has received complaints about buses speeding along a particular residential street with a 30 mph speed limit. Several buses travel through this area, so you need to determine which ones, if any, were speeding.

Because your video management software uses interactive maps that work with the GPS modules on your buses, your investigator can draw a geofence around the street where the complaints originated and then search for speeds over 35 mph. By including a time period – beginning with the time the first bus arrives on the street to the last bus – your investigator can capture information on all buses traveling on that street.  If multiple results are returned, video from all buses can be scheduled to download in one single step, the next time those buses enter a wireless hotspot.

Scenario No. 2 – Whiplash Allegation

A passenger claims they were injured after the bus they were traveling on slammed on its brakes to avoid hitting a cyclist.

Your team knows the date and time of the alleged incident, as well as the vehicle and driver IDs, and the approximate area it was said to take place. By entering this information into your video management software, and then also searching for incidents of hard brakes, your investigator can easily determine if the bus in question slammed on its brakes. This type of search is possible because the bus uses an accelerometer to measure hard stops and aggressive driving. The accelerometer tags video every time vehicle activity is recorded above a certain threshold. Using a video management system that incorporates this vehicle metadata then lets you search by these “tags” or incidents, and very quickly investigate what happened. Surveying this bus’s exterior facing cameras at the time in question could also tell you whether a cyclist was in fact in the roadway.

After drawing a geofence around the area in question, the video management software identifies the bus route where hardbrakes were applied.

Scenario No. 3 – Caught on camera?

A pedestrian was hit by a car yesterday at 1:32pm at the intersection of Park and Main Streets. The accident did not involve a bus, but police have contacted your transportation agency to see if a bus was in the area at that time and captured any video of the incident.

Your investigative team can answer the question quickly by drawing a geofence with a 20-mile radius around the intersection in your software and searching within that timeframe.  Your search results show several buses were in the vicinity at that time, and one in particular was just meters away at the time of the accident. By accessing that bus’s forward facing camera, you’re able to provide footage of the accident to police.

You can see that in all of these scenarios, the fact that only partial information exists – a location, but no vehicle ID, for example – doesn’t limit the ability of your investigative team to locate the video in question.  The powerful combination of surveillance video and integrated vehicle metadata lets you rapidly narrow down your search and pinpoint the exact evidence you need in only a matter of minutes. In some cases, it could actually eliminate the possibility of costly litigation, saving your organization a substantial amount of money.

This type of tool can also be used to proactively manage your fleet and address issues before they arise, for example with driver training or vehicle malfunctions.

This blog origionally appeared on March Networks' website at https://www.marchnetworks.com/intelligent-ip-video-blog/speed-transportation-investigations-with-integrated-video-vehicle-metadata/

About the Author

Réal Barrière

Réal Barrière has more than 15 years’ experience serving the transportation industry with companies including March Networks, Alstom Transport and ISC Applied Systems. He currently oversees product strategy and implementation for March Networks RideSafe intelligent video management solution.