Thursday, October 27, 2005

ADT's Take on Transit Security

In advance of his webinar on, SIW editor Geoff Kohl sat down with ADT's chief Transportation Security Specialist Barry Einsig to get his perspective on what's happening in security for transit systems today.
Having worked on some of the nation's top transit systems, including Atlanta's MARTA system, D.C.'s WMATA system, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Einsig has a unique perspective of what is driving security policy and technology changes. His involvement with committees of the American Public Transportation Association keeps him abreast of what's happening at a variety of agencies, whether they're small city systems or of the large metropolitan variety. (more)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Are SEPTA Trains Secure?

A U.S. congressman is calling for SEPTA to answer some tough questions about its apparant lack of security.
Video: Septa Trains Unprotected?
This comes after the NBC 10 Investigators showed him an eye-opening trip that they took into area train yards

The intent of the NBC 10 investigation is not how to show someone how to sabotage a train, it is indended to shine a light on a situation some people call outrageous. The NBC 10 Investigators went to work when some SEPTA employees called them to tell them that they are worried about security. (more)

United States Senate Considers Bill to Increase Rail Security

The U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill that seeks to improve the security of America's freight and passenger rail transportation system. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on October 20, regarding S. 1052, the Transportation Security Improvement Act. The hearing also examined public and private sector actions taken to enhance the security of passenger and freight rail transportation in light of September 11, 2001, and various attacks on rail systems overseas. (more)

Terrorism & Mass Transit

The hundreds of mass transit systems carrying millions of riders every day are, quite obviously, an attractive and vulnerable target for terrorists. Groups like al-Qaida are very adaptive, cunning and clever, so the next attack might come from a completely and unsuspected direction than previous strikes. (more)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Digital Recorders Expects to Report a Drop in Q3 Sales

Digital Recorders, Inc. , a technology leader in transit, transportation, and law enforcement digital communications and audio enhancement systems, announced today it expects to report third quarter sales of approximately $11.0 million, a decrease of 4.3 percent compared to $11.5 million posted the same period a year ago. (more)

MetroValencia to Deploy Verint Solution to Enhance Passenger Safety Across Commuter Rail System

Verint Systems Inc., a provider of analytic software-based solutions for communications interception, networked video security and business intelligence, today announced that Spain's MetroValencia is deploying Verint's Networked Video Solution to enhance passenger security for the city of Valencia's commuter rail system. (more)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Edmonton Awards LRV Contract

The city of Edmonton, Alberta, purchased 26 new Siemens Transportation Systems SD160 light rail transit vehicles (LRVs) per an $84 million contract. (more)

Department of Homeland Security IBS Grants Announced

All of the 25 intercity bus security grants awarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) went to American Bus Association private bus operator members who applied for bus security grants earlier this year. The companies will receive nearly $10 million in federal assistance to help them make security improvements to their operations. The Department of Homeland Security announced the grant recipients this week. To date, the private motorcoach industry has received nearly $50 million in bus security grants for the entire industry. (more)

To get more detail about Intercity Bus Grants or Transit Grants from DHS (Department of Homeland Security) you can follow this link.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Canadian Government Rail and Mass Security Transit Plan In The Works!

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre plans to head to cabinet soon with ideas to beef up anti-terrorism measures on rail and mass-transit systems, says his security adviser.
The federal government has put a special focus on drafting improvements to transit security following the bombings that rocked the London subway system during the summer. Lapierre met with his provincial counterparts and has held talks with front-line rail and transit operators in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. (more)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Intergraph Selected for Lockheed Martin Team Providing New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority Security System

Intergraph Corporation has been selected as part of the Lockheed Martin team providing a comprehensive upgrade to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s electronic security operations infrastructure. The MTA oversees New York City Transit, Long Island Railroad, Metro North Railroad and MTA bridges and tunnels. (more)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Price Tag For MTA Subway Security Measures Is On The Rise

Three months after the MTA launched a multi-million dollar plan to improve security in the transit system, the cost of the plan is going up. The MTA awarded defense giant Lockheed Martin a contract in August to boost transit security. At the time, the project was expected to cost $213 million. (more)

Motorola Wins Telematic Contract with General Motors

Motorola, Inc. announced that it received an award for a multi-year contract from General Motors to provide its next-generation Telematics Control Unit(TCU). The contract, awarded in the third quarter, expands Motorola’s significant position in the worldwide Telematics market and represents a strategic step towards launching enhanced safety, security and convenience services in the North America market. (more)

Police Mobile Surveillance Video Equipment Supplier Signs Up for GSA Contract

A4S Security, Inc. announced a General Services Administration (GSA) contract has been awarded to A4S. This contract will enable the Company to sell its products to federal government agencies worldwide. The five-year contract, with options to extend for up to 15 additional years, was awarded under Federal Supply Class Group 84 covering Law Enforcement and Security Systems. A4S has also qualified as a small business under the NAICS classification for Special Item Number 426-S as a part of the award. The contract award, also qualifies A4S to participate in the GSA's Federal 1122 Program and multiple state schedule programs. These programs allow state and local law enforcement and transportation agencies to directly receive the purchasing benefits of the procurement procedures and channels that the GSA has developed. (more)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

4.9 GHz Public Safety Mesh Network Launched In New Mexico Public Safety

Firetide, Inc., awireless mesh networking provider, has launched a HotPort 4.9 GHz Public Safety Mesh Network for licensed public safety operation for emergency services and first responders. The company also announced the City of Rio Rancho, New Mexico as a beta customer. "Municipalities have recognized that their communities must have a secure communication infrastructure in place for public safety operations," said Esme Vos, CEO of MuniWireless. "With Firetide entering this market, emergency and first responders will have more options when choosing portable and high performance wireless mesh networks for both communication and video surveillance." (more)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Integrian Continues Sales Expansion & Growth

Research Triangle Park, NC – Integrian, Inc., a leader in mobile digital video solutions, is pleased to announce three key additions to its sales team, rounding out a recent national expansion in field coverage.
Dave Childress has joined Integrian as Director of Sales for the South Central region. He comes to Integrian from L-3 Communications Mobile-Vision in Boonton, NJ. where he was a highly successful Regional Sales Manager. Dave has a long history in the public safety field, having served for several years as a Firefighter prior to his career in sales.
Laura Cheek formerly served as Inside Sales Stand-Alone Account Manager at Cisco Systems for several years. She will be working closely with the field sales team at Integrian, managing all aspects of sales operations and support. Laura studied Business Administration at Central Michigan University. (more)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mobile Surveillance System Video Survives Bomb Explosion Test

A4S Security, Inc. announced today the results of the impact of a bomb explosion test on the company's ShiftWatch Transportation Video Surveillance (TVS) system. The results demonstrated the capability of the TVS system to withstand a simulated terrorist explosion and successfully provide readable data and video of the event. (more)

Monday, October 10, 2005

DriveCam Teams with PestSure to Reduce Driving Risks for Pest Control Operators

DriveCam, Inc., the leader in knowledge-based systems that improve driving behavior, today announced that it has teamed with PestSure, a captive liability insurance program for pest control operators, to market the DriveCam system to its 90-plus members representing 10,000 vehicles nationwide. Under the agreement, DriveCam will offer a volume discount to PestSure members, and PestSure will contribute $290 toward the cost of each DriveCam system. PestSure will also cover the cost of installation, initial training, a docking station, and other program services. (more)

Patrol Car Digital Video Solutions to Improve Evidence-Gathering

Panasonic Computer Solutions Company today announced that San Carlos (California) Police Department will standardize on the Panasonic Toughbook Arbitrator digital recording system for video capture, storage and transfer in support of improved incident documentation, evidence management and streamlined operations. (more)

NextPhase Wireless Helps Provide Innovative Solution for Improved Security on Long Beach Transit Buses

ANAHEIM, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 10/10/2005 -- NextPhase Wireless (OTC BB: NXPW), a connectivity company that specializes in integrated Internet, voice and data communication solutions, is using GE Security's Mobile Products Division to implement an innovative wireless on-board video surveillance system that provides 162 Long Beach Transit (LBT) buses with improved security and the ability to reduce false claims and incidents. (more)

GAO report cites lack of coordination on rail security

The federal government’s efforts to protect mass transit systems from terrorists are disjointed and do not receive enough input from system owners, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. (more)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Security Stocks Rise Amid New York Terror Alert

News story focuses on how technology companies share prices are increasing because of recent terror threat.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

London Doubles Cash Transit Fares

Israeli digital information system installed in Toronto's subway

Oct. 06 - Israel's Minicom Advanced Systems has announced that one of the largest digital transit information systems in North America uses Minicom's Video Display System (VDS) to deliver content to commuters. ONESTOP Media Group (OMG) is a full service digital signage network operator. Its digital media network for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) delivers real-time transit information, news, sports, weather, entertainment and advertising to double sided 40" LCD screens on subway platforms reaching over 1 million riders weekly. As the network owner and operator, OMG funded the installation, sells the advertising inventory, and shares its profits with the TTC. ONESTOP Network chose Minicom because of its superior price/performance ratio.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

School Bus CCTV Video Surveillance Guide for School Boards and Transportation Directors

(repost by request) In the last three years I have had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds of transportation directors, contractors, dealers and school boards about the use of video surveillance in school buses. Unfortunately, most of the time something very serious has happened to necessitate the reason for our discussion. Vandalism, bullying, driver or passenger behavior are the usual culprits. One thing is for certain, many of the school bus fleets that have installed surveillance equipment have continued with the practice to this day because incidents continue to happen on school buses every day. You've probably seen the odd one on the news. Usually once every couple of months a wayward tape makes it into the local news room and gets broadcast....ouch!!. Being that we are currently in the throws of prepping buses for back to school and entering another school year I have put together some notes for transportation directors considering this type of equipment for their upcoming budget. For others, this may be a good reference for you as you work through the different generations of equipment available for school bus student monitoring...keeping the equipment functional and making that equipment work for another year. Why the Use of Video Surveillance on School Buses? Over 200,000 school buses currently use on-board surveillance to act as a second pair of eyes while the driver (chief bus chaperone) keeps his/her eyes on the road. Many school districts used to (still some today) have volunteer or paid monitors ride the bus with the driver to act as a ride chaperone for unruly students. As time has progressed, less and less volunteers were available and budgets diminished. Purchasing school bus cameras became an affordable alternative and the practice took root across the country. The main reason for the watchful eye has been to have an accurate record of bad student behavior. Usually something happens on the bus and then there is a parent, principal, driver meeting to work through the 'he said, she said' details. Now with the use of a camera the details are unbiased and presented as they happen. Meetings are shorter and less emotionally charged. Drivers like the technology because it takes the onus off them to prove that students have done something wrong. The TD needs only to 'pull the tape' to see what happened. More recently there have been other reasons for surveillance like driver behavior, vandalism, bullying and missing kids. Typically what happens is that the school board reacts to a specific incident and seeing the risks involved and problems in resolution they resort to making an investment in recording equipment. To a smaller degree recording equipment has been used as a management tool for accident recording, driver training and route management. One of the most obvious benefits reported about school bus video systems is the 'deterrent' effect on students. Cameras are installed on the bus and the student behavior is noticeably better because they believe they are being watched. My experience is that this effect tends to taper down a few months after the installation and returns each time a bad student has been reported and the video has been used. Stop Arm violations have also become another reason for surveillance. Every year, children are killed by drivers that have ignored school bus stop arms. Video systems now include the ability to trigger external cameras to record those violators. Aggresive laws are now in place in many states for aggressive fines and prosecution of stop arm violators. For some countys the revenue from ticket fines is routed back to state or school districts to facilitate purchase of more safety equipment. Currently there are a number of initiatives on the east coast and mid south that will automate the process of recording and ticketing the stop arm violators. (Stop Arm Camera Study , TRB White Paper , NHTSA 2000 Report) How Do These Systems Work? Generally speaking school bus video recording systems are designed to start recording once the bus is turned on. The system will continue to record until the vehicle is turned off or when the tape or hard drive is full. Most systems are set to recycle and re-record new images over old to minimize media handling. Most systems will give you the ability to choose from black and white or color camera set ups. Additionally, you can have audio, event indicators (brakes, doors, lights, turn signals, speed) and an additional camera for stop arm monitoring. Newer systems allow you GPS and wireless networking connectivity. Essentially the system continues to record until an incident or maintenance cycle and then the storage tape or hard drive is removed, replaced or reviewed. For our industry counterparts with hard winters. These systems also have temperature sensors, heat strips and delay on timers to allow systems to warm up during those brisk mornings. There is also a delay-off timer to keep the system recording for a designated amount of time after the bus is turned off to ensure recording while kids egress the bus and to observe drivers checking the bus before locking it up for the night. Types of Systems School bus video monitoring has evolved into three different types of recording systems - camcorder, VCR and digital. The first of these systems is the older camcorder style system with enclosure. This style has been around the longest and utilizes a steel or plastic enclosure with a windowed door and mounting plate for a modified Panasonic, Sony or Canon camcorder. The camcorder is modified with wiring that allows the record function to be triggered by the ignition circuit of the bus. The camcorder is mounted and then secured within the enclosure to keep from prying fingers. Kids usually don't know whether a camera is in the enclosure or not allowing operators the benefit of deterrence with a decoy set up. This set up provides for about 4 hours of recording before recycle. The second system set up is a VCR (ruggedized for the mobile environment). This is coupled with a camera which is mounted on the bus ceiling or bulkhead and then wired into the bus for power and operation. You will get up to nine hours of recording with a VCR. Digital systems are pretty well the same as the VCR set up. In fact, many of the newer digital systems act as a retrofit or replacement for current VCR sytems. Recording times on digital systems will vary depending on hard drive size but usually will provide a minimum of 30 hours and up to 600 hours with frame rate and compression adjustments. Digital systems are growing in popularity mainly because of the increased recording times and there's no need to maintain a huge tape library for each bus. The technology has also provided some additional perks of easier searching, wireless access and other onboard data capture. Most school bus recording systems will use cameras that have built in microphones and will record audio. However, there are many juridictions where audio cannot or is not recorded. Decoy vs. Live Systems The bottom line for many school districts is that many are restricted on their passenger safety initiatives because budgets are being eaten up by growing costs of maintaining a school bus fleet. Not the least of which is fuel costs. It's for this reason that many SD's look at a couple of options for deploying camera systems on their buses. Some bus managers have identified that some routes are chronically experiencing on-board incidents. In this situation they may partially outfit those routes with equipment and regularly review video to target frequent offenders. These systems will be complete and functional and run all the time. Partial fleet deployment is one way that TDs can have some flexibility in security budget. It also allows them to deploy the equipment over a period of time. They may look at installaions of 20% of the fleet per year over 5 years to completion. Other organizations like to have the appearance of full fleet installations but will in actuality only have a few 'live systems' with the balance acting as decoys. Decoy systems look like they are operational but do not have a recorder in operation. This provides the manager with the ability to move recording devices from bus to bus without the students being aware of whether it is live or not. Additional accessories like blinking LED lights and window films with camera profiles help to create the illusion. The catch is that if something does happen on a bus without the recorder there is an expectation that the cameras will have captured it. This expectation is usually tested by the parents. For the richer school districts or smaller fleets complete deployment with live systems is manageable and usually done. Installing equipment in all the buses and keeping a few spares in the shop for the odd breakdown. What's involved with the installation? Installing a recording system requires a few tools, some knowledge of onboard wiring and some time for the first installation. Typically a shop mechanic is the best choice to install such a system. For those school districts that don't have the luxury of their own shop you can rely on your trusted school bus dealer for help. If you are purchasing a system built for school bus recording it will usually have the following components... a) Main wiring harness that will connect to onboard power source and trigger wiring for event indictators and secondary camera triggering. b) Camera head and mounting bracket c) Security enclosure for recorder (VCR or digital) Note: Camcorder systems usually have security enclosure only for the camcorder and there is no additional camera head for installation. Once you have done the inventory check for all parts you mount the security enclosure for the recorder. The main thing here is to keep it off the floor and protect from moisture, dust and kids boots. Many districts undermount the enclosure to the bottom of the bench seat directly behind the driver. Because of the durability of newer systems you can also 'toaster mount' the unit (vertically) near the driver's console or partition. Next is to 'pull wire' and connect for power, event indicator circuits and camera wiring. Finally, mounting of the camera and connecting is done. Keeping in mind to make your wiring and camera tamper resistant. It's also helpful to have a handheld LCD monitor to test aim the camera. For most standard length school buses cameras with a 8mm lens will provide a good field of view of the whole bus. Some TD's are particular about seeing the first few rows of the bus and for them a 6mm lens will do the trick. If you need to shave a couple of dollars off the equipment costs you may wish to consider black and white cameras. The differential between color and black and white cameras can vary from $75 to $200. Some manufacturers throw the color in for free. If you have purchased some additional accessories such as an extra microphone or infra-red illuminators you can install these last. Infra-red illuminators will allow your black and white cameras to record when there is no visible light. Analog vs. Digital Recording Systems Camcorder systems for the most part are being phased out. This is mainly because of the high cost to maintain. Camcorders have many moving parts and tend to shake apart after a couple of years. Also, the main manufacturers, Sony, Panasonic and Canon continue to design for the consumer market and add features and prices that don't fit the school bus market. Most school districts elect to use VCRs systems because of low costs and increased recording time. Camcorder systems are still available but require a little time to search out for suppliers. The main debate points for migrating from analog (VCR) to digital systems have been the following ... - digital systems have more recording time and will allow recording of bus routes for two or more weeks whereas tape systems at best give you nine hours and then you need to rewind or replace tape. - digital systems use solid state circuitry and have less moving parts which means less repair and maintenance related to constant vibration and shock. - TD's are having a hard time budgeting for a tape infrastructure that requires staffing and storage of VCR tapes. Imagine if you had a fleet of 400 buses and the board wanted you to store 21 days of tapes!?!?! You could rename your department to 'Blockbuster Video'. - digital systems are provide some other features such as wireless access, increase searching capabilities, geo-fencing, GPS and on-board networking or data collection. On the other side of the debate is the increased cost to move to digital. Sometime two to three times the costs of a VCR system. With some TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) analysis you could justify the increase as a minimum 5 year equipment investment. However, most manufacturers only give you a one year warranty on the recorder and 3 years on the camera heads. Hmmm. There is no doubt that the digital system will outlast the analog system. However, many purchasers are wondering if Moore's law will apply to this equipment and they should wait before the buy. Moore's law states that every 18 months computers will be twice as fast or twice as cheap. The best test of this is to query manufacturers on their hard drive costs for digital video recording systems and see if there has been any drop in price over the last two years. The main issues to watch for with mobile digital video equipment is whether the system is designed for rugged mobile use and is engineered for the constant vibration and shock. Most digital video recorders are not designed for school bus application and results in loss of information because of hard drive arm skip. How much does it costs for this equipment? Of course, prices will vary from vendor to vendor and dealer to dealer. Some school bus dealers and contractors have better volume pricing from the factory than others. You'll also find that large fleet bid pricing will get you the best prices. Many manufacturers will either bid direct or will have their representative/dealer bid for them. Because of increased competition for market share more manufacturers are bidding direct. If there is a requirement for installation and then they will work with a local partner/dealer or use field staff. Camcorder and VCR systems will range from $525 to $1095 installed. Note camcorder pricing includes camera. To install camcorder box only will be less than $100. Most buyers elect to install new VCR systems unless they already have camcorders and are trying to extend the life of the systems or outfit fleet expansion. Digital systems will range from $1195 to $1995 installed for a single channel system and prices will vary depending upon hard drive size. Standard HD size is 40 Gigabytes and can be expanded up to 120 GBs. Mobile digital video surveillance systems may include hard drive but may or may not include playback software or viewing station for download and playback of digital video. You'll also find that prices go up for systems with 2 or more cameras recording simultaneously. List of Current Equipment Suppliers Here's a list of manufacturers that you can contact for more specific information about their school bus systems. Most will make available information kits, video samples, specifications and pre-sale consultations. Many will also make available free installation of demonstration equipment for an evaluation trial period. There's nothing better than 'try before you buy'. This is especially important on the newer digital video systems. An evaluation allows you to check for 'ease-of-use', download and processing speeds, and technical support. As one TD put it to me..."I'd like to see if there are some smart and responsive people attached to your product".

I hope that this information is helpful and helps you weigh all the information available on this equipment. I have greatly enjoy my experience being involved with the pupil transportation industry and relish the friendships across the country in this industy. It's one of the few industries where there is still a tightly knit community.

If there is any information that I have missed in this article please go ahead and post it below.

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ATX Expands Use of Telematics for Remote Vehicle Activation

I love to read newstories like this about new technology providing cutting edge functionality that make you say 'why didn't I think of that?'. < More about ATX >

Siemens VDO Adds Shopping Guide to Vehicle Navigation Systems

(link to newstory)

We spend so much time thinking about getting information off the vehicle and we forget that networking allows us to interact with vehicles in real time. This includes sending information to AVMs (Automated Vehicle Messaging) and providing near 'point of sale' advertising to riders.

There are also some emerging examples of providing wireless onboard networking for passengers for entertainment purposes.

Increase bus, rail, station security, commuters say

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Digital Recorders, Inc. Announces Order for New Intelligent Transportation System and Transit Security Product

Integrian, Inc., Launches the TransitCam(TM) T-830 Digital Video Recorder into Transit Market

News release from Integrian about new digital recorder with 'on the fly' trigger video resolution, duplex functionality and 1-4 internal hard drives. There's not much technical detail on their web site about this product. This is likely equipment from their recent acquisition ; )

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Despite Millions Spent on N. Texas Security, Challenges Remain

Dallas news story link.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

In Edmonton, Montreal and other cities, on-board surveillance is already helping curb crime on buses and subway cars

This Globe and Mail newstory gives a brief overview of the use of on-board video surveillance at various transit authorities in North America and Paris. TTC's pilot run is using a the same equipment being used in the taxis in Toronto. Story gives a interesting overview of some of the budgets being issued for installation of this equipment including systems priced at $8000 per for the Washington MTA.