Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Canadian Government Give $110MM to Metro Transit to Beef Up Security

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's government will give the country's six largest cities C$110 million ($94 million) to improve their transit systems' security to prevent terrorist attacks like those in London and Madrid.
The funding will help Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton upgrade their video-surveillance systems and pay for emergency-preparedness exercises over three years, Transport Minister Jean Lapierre told reporters in Ottawa today.
Fear of an attack on Canada's transit system has risen since the bombings of London subways in July and commuter trains in Madrid in 2004, Lapierre said. Together those attacks killed about 240 people. News reports that a suspect in the Madrid bombings had a file on Montreal's subway system underscore the need to upgrade security quickly, he said. (more)

RCMP Dismiss Terror Attack Against Montreal Transit

MONTREAL — Canadian authorities say there is no credible threat of a terrorist attack on the Montreal transit system although they admit they’ve been aware of a Spanish investigation into the possibility for quite some time.
While urging riders to be vigilant, the RCMP said Wednesday there is no reason to fear after a Spanish newspaper reported that information about the Montreal system was found on the computer of a Moroccan questioned after last year’s train bombings in Madrid.
The newspaper, El Pais, said the computer also had detailed data on Spanish trains and a map of the London Underground, two recent terrorist targets.
An RCMP spokesman said Canadian investigators have known of the discovery of a Montreal subway system map for six months. (more)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From Eurotech Advanced Solutions for Video Surveillance Applications

Amaro, Udine (Italy) Eurotech will shortly be releasing a new, rugged, compact and low power system for video surveillance applications that further integrates the advanced functionalities of a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) that have the ability to acquire and store high resolution video streams onto an integrated data storage module, and will then allow the user to transmit the images trough long distance wireless connections (GPRS, UMTS, WiFi 802.11.X, Bluetooth). The system will dynamically use the available bandwidth continually ensuring that the maximum possible information can be sent with minimum data loss.
The Eurotech system by fully utilizing the advanced capabilities offered by the new JPEG2000 compression standard analyses the acquired images and then compresses them. The result of this compression is a file that can be sent in its totality or partially. In any case only a few kilobytes contain all the necessary information to rebuild the original images: the quality depends on how many bytes are sent. This quantity can be changed dynamically according to bandwidth availability or according to the required image quality. (more)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A4S Security Announces Development of Its Video Advertising Delivery System

LOVELAND, Colo., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A4S Security, Inc.(Nasdaq: SWAT; ArcaEx), a leading provider of digital video surveillancesolutions, is pleased to announce the development of its ShiftWatch(R) VideoAdvertising Delivery System (VADS), a newly added feature to the ShiftWatch(R)Transportation Digital Video Surveillance System (TVS). VADS is a delivery system that gives advertisers and transit agencies theability to deliver advertising and entertainment content to transit commutersusing broadcast quality, full-motion video and audio. "The addition of the video playback solution to the ShiftWatch(R) TVSproduct provides transit agencies with a revenue generating solution to offsetthe cost of their video security systems," said Matthew Siemens, ExecutiveVice President of Sales and Marketing for A4S. The ShiftWatch(R) Transportation Video System (TVS) is the state-ofdigital video recorder for transportation surveillance needs. ShiftWatch'spatent pending recording technology captures video, audio, GPS, and vehicleinformation in two places at once-both a traditional hard disk and to adigital tape cartridge system. (more)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Study Shows that Agencies Are Not Putting Enough Money Into Emergency Response

SACRAMENTO — California's mass transit agencies are throwing too much of their scarce federal funding at preventing a hard-to-stop terrorist attack and too little preparing for an attack's aftermath, according to security experts who studied the spending patterns for The Associated Press.
The priorities ignore the lessons of the bus and train bombings that killed 247 people in Madrid and London: It's impossible to fully secure big-city systems designed for easy access to hundreds of thousands of riders.
For its review of transit spending, the AP asked top counterterror analysts in the United States and the United Kingdom to examine details of $15.5 million in federal funding six major California transit agencies have been given over the last two years. Their advice: Assume an attack will one day succeed and fine-tune the emergency reaction to respond to the carnage, confusion and disruption. In most cases, that's the opposite ofwhat's being done.
"I was surprised there was so little emphasis on the response and recovery plan," said Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "It's sort of a smorgasbord approach. I'm not sure some of the money is well spent or well thought-out to be efficient."
Transit agencies defended their approaches, saying the prevention of an attack must be the top priority.
That's partly because transit agency officials believe it's their job to run the trains, buses and ferries safely — and the responsibility of firefighters and police to respond should terrorists strike, said Bill Pedrini, chief of protective services for Caltrain, a commuter rail service that runs between San Francisco and San Jose.
Bay Area Rapid Transit was one of five San Francisco Bay area transit agencies that formally made prevention their No. 1 policy goal when they set priorities for dividing $7.5 million in federal counterterror grants this fall. Detection was second, recovery third and emergency response last.
"Prevention is where we want to be — stop it before it happens," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.
The experts contacted by AP said some of the agencies' purchases are cost-effective, citing bomb-sniffing dogs, improved communications equipment and tighter security at maintenance and parking areas.
Those were among dozens of spending items in the records of the six agencies: the Bay Area Rapid Transit District; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Los Angeles; Caltrain; the Southern California Regional Rail Authority; the North San Diego County Transit District; and the San Joaquin Rail Commission.
The agencies also bought plasma televisions, personal protective equipment, padlocks and surveillance cameras, radios and alarms, handheld bomb detectors and motion detectors, fences and fiber-optic equipment.
Such spending "reinforces the point that transit agencies are at square one with respect to responding to terrorist threats," said James Moore, a public transit expert at the University of Southern California's Homeland Security Center. (More)

Almeda County Cracking Down on Transit Vandalism

AC Transit officials, Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer and District Attorney Tom Orloff today announced an aggressive and high-profile campaign to crack down on vandalism on buses.
Speaking at a news conference at a bus stop next to Oakland City Hall, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit General Manager Rich Fernandez said the campaign is being launched today because Halloween traditionally is the day on which the transit agency's buses suffer the most graffiti and vandalism.
Bus vandalism, including sliced seats, badly marred windows, broken hand rails and unsightly graffiti, creates fear and a perception of danger for riders, Fernandez said.
AC Transit is forced to spend a minimum of $2 million per year on repairs and replacement parts alone and loses additional revenue due to potential riders who are turned off or scared by the graffiti, he said (more)

San Joaquin Rail Commission Installing Security Trains on Altamont Commuter Express Trains

STOCKTON -- Transit officials are installing new security cameras to improve safety on board the Altamont Commuter Express.The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which owns and operates ACE trains, on Thursday hired a firm to put 110 digital security cameras throughout the ACE trains. The cameras will cost about $236,000, ACE officials said.The installation should be completed within the next 30 to 45 days.Each train car will have four security cameras that will record passengers as they enter and exit the train, said Brian Schmidt, rail program manager for ACE. There will also be cameras on the control car. (more)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Do You Know Where Your School Buses Are?

IC Corporation, North America's largest school bus manufacturer, is the first school bus manufacturer to offer factory-installed GPS tracking in its school buses. The announcement was made at the National Association for Pupil Transportation Conference in Austin, Texas. IC Corporation will be integrating the tracking components into its 2006 school bus models. Telematics, the remote tracking of vehicles, provides real-time information on the location and performance of vehicles. IC Corporation's parent company has developed a telematics solution called International Aware Vehicle Intelligence that is fully integrated with the electronics components of the company's buses so all of the important functions can be remotely monitored. Monitoring can range from keeping track of the location of a bus at all times to tracking how often the flashing red warning lights are activated. Designated officials can visit a password-protected Web site to get information about the school bus fleet. (more)

California Security for Transit Faulty?

SACRAMENTO - California's transit agencies - including Los Angeles' MTA - are throwing too much of their scarce federal funding into preventing a hard-to-stop terrorist attack and too little toward preparing for an attack's aftermath, according to an analysis by security experts.
In a review of six major transit agencies' spending of $15.5 million in federal funds over the past two years, top U.S. and British counterterrorism analysts said more should be spent on emergency-response plans - primarily because it's nearly impossible to fully secure big-city transit systems with thousands of riders.
"I was surprised there was so little emphasis on the response and recovery plan," said Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "It's sort of a smorgasbord approach. I'm not sure some of the money is well spent or well thought out to be efficient." (more)