Monday, November 27, 2006

Violence on School Buses Prompts Increased Security - District Turning to Cameras

By LEDYARD KINGGannett News Service
WASHINGTON — The recent wave of school violence has officials mulling whether to fortify buildings, fence off campuses, maybe even arm teachers.
But what about the school bus?

Each weekday, some 24 million public school children ride school buses driven by adults whose main job is to watch the road — not the kids on board.

The vast majority of rides remain uneventful. Yet isolated but well-publicized reports of bullying, fighting and last year's shooting of a bus driver in Cumberland City, Tenn., have prompted authorities to equip more buses with cameras, restrict access to non-students, and train drivers to deal with dangerous situations.

"Parents need to be more aware of what's happening on the bus," said Eric Gala of Lenox, Mich. His son, Chester, was left bloodied and bruised in May by a bully four years older and twice his size.

Experts say it's hard to tell if bus violence across the country is rising, because school districts don't keep good data. Ken Trump, a school safety consultant based in Cleveland, thinks it might be.

In a survey he conducted in 2004 of 750 school police officers around the nation, about one in three "indicated that violent incidents on school buses had increased in their districts during the past two years."
What is clear is that school districts are responding:
• Many are installing cameras above the driver and, in some newer models, at the rear as well, to record and deter misbehavior. Michael J. Martin, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of buses have a camera. Metro Nashville school buses do use cameras.
• Districts in places like Buffalo, N.Y., are putting adult monitors on buses to help keep order.
• More drivers are being trained to deal with unruly behavior and even terrorism situations, according to drivers and safety experts.
• Florida, New York and other states have passed laws making it a crime for non-students to board a bus without the driver's permission, Martin said.
That wouldn't have helped Joyce Gregory, 47, shot to death in March 2005 by Jason Clinard, a 14-year-old student in Cumberland City. She had referred the boy to school administrators for using smokeless tobacco on the bus.
"That was an eye-opener for the industry," Martin said. "As a consequence, you're seeing drivers much more aware of what students (are doing)."
That kind of event is extremely rare. What's more commonplace — though still unusual, experts say — are fights and bullying among students on the bus.
Those problems are compounded by crowded buses, a mixture of different-age students, and a sense that no one is watching.
"Bullying occurs more frequently where there is less supervision. It's a crime of opportunity, and you're not going to do it where you're going to get caught," said Robert Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University. "The school bus is a very fertile arena for inappropriate behavior."

March Divests Assets


March Networks Goes Underground


March Networks 'Buy'

November 22, 2006 8:44:02 AM ETCanaccord AdamsNEW YORK, November 22 ( -

Analysts at Canaccord Adams reiterate their "buy" rating on March Networks Corporation (ticker: M8N). The target price is set to C$29.In a research note published this morning, the analysts mention that the company is expected to report its revenues marginally ahead of and profits in-line with the consensus. The TTC contract announcement indicates March Networks’ increased traction, the analysts say. There are rumours of IBM taking over an independent player, most probably Verint Systems, suggesting that March Networks could become a takeover target going ahead, Canaccord Adams adds.


Friday, November 17, 2006

New York Bus Ride? Smile, You're On Camera

Bus ride? Smile, you're on camera

Wheels aren't the only things rolling on city buses. New York City Transit yesterday unveiled its latest high-tech video surveillance system, which will be installed in 450 buses by summer.Six buses already are armed with the cameras, which provide interior shots of passengers, as well as the driver's point of view. By January, 50 buses will be so armed and a total of 450 will have them by July as part of the $5.2 million pilot program.The system was unveiled at the Michael J. Quill Depot on the West Side."Video surveillance has clearly been shown to deter criminal activity," said Lawrence Reuter, president of New York City Transit.

The cameras, which will record every second of the bus' operation, will be available for investigators to use to piece together crimes or events that lead to a slip-and-fall lawsuit. They could also be used to identify terrorists after an attack - if the equipment survives. "We saw how London Transport video was effectively used to identify suspects in the July 2005 attacks," Reuter said.Each bus shift's recording will be permanently deleted after 90 days unless it is needed for an investigation, according to the MTA.

There are about 4,500 buses in NYC Transit's fleet, and if the Manhattan pilot program is deemed successful, it will be expanded systemwide. The TransitCam surveillance camera project was developed by Integrian Inc., a North Carolina-based company. The company, which is expected to generate $100 million in revenue this year, also has contracts with New Jersey Transit, the Dallas Police Department, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, and the Milwaukee Police Department.The cameras can be upgraded to send the images back to a central command center in real time. The live video transmissions are something which is being considered, according to Charles Seaton, spokesman for NYC Transit.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc

New York MTA - Moving Images


Roll camera.

The MTA began recording surveillance footage on six city buses yesterday in a pilot program that by next year will equip 450 buses - half of Manhattan's fleet - with cameras.
The cameras further the agency's long-term plan to flood the bus and subway system with so many cameras that straphangers might one day need to swipe a Screen Actors Guild card at the turnstile, an observer quipped.
If successful, the $5.2 million pilot program will be expanded to all 4,500 city buses. That's on top of thousands of cameras already in place at subway stations and the thousands more being considered for subway cars, officials said.
"Video surveillance has clearly been shown to deter criminal activity on buses and we also believe that it will be extremely valuable in investigating accident-injury claims," NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter said.
Transit officials admit the cameras will be better at deterring false-accident lawsuits and two-bit vandalism than they will at stopping terrorism.
In fact, if a terrorist did blow up a bus, the computer hard drive storing the footage would likely be destroyed, officials said.
The crime rate on buses is so low, the agency does not even track it separately, but about three slip-and-fall customer accidents occur each day.
The six to seven cameras installed on each bus will record everything from the moment the driver turns the ignition until the bus returns to the depot.
Collisions will be automatically red-flagged by the system along with any incidents the driver marks by pressing a red button.
When the bus is brought in to refuel, the digital video will be transmitted from the on-board computer hard drive to a central server, where the red-flagged portions will be immediately viewed by a supervisor.
The camera angles will include the driver's point of view, the doors and farebox, and the bus interiors, said Ian Arcuri, project manager for Integrian, the company awarded the contract.
The drivers will not be recorded, to the relief of union leaders who feared the footage would be used for disciplinary purposes.
"The driver should never feel he is being scrutinized by the cameras," said Transport Workers Union vice president Bill Pelletier.
"But this could be a deterrent to stop people from physically abusing the drivers or throwing objects."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Security Transit - Post 9/11

Americans will never forget the sad and tragic events they awoke to on Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks that took place that day fractured air travel as we knew it, and caused governments worldwide to find ways to prevent anything of this sort from happening again.
Part of the solution has been to fortify aviation security. However, the terrorist bombings in Madrid, London, and Mumbai, India, have shown that there is another potential target that has not yet been wholly addressed — public transit.
“It’s not any secret that the number of riders of mass transit is in the billions and the monies toward public transit security is in the millions,” says Polly Hanson, chief of Metro Transit Police for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). She adds that the reverse is true for aviation security, where there are millions of passengers every year and billions of dollars spent on security.
In fact, since 2001, the aviation industry has received $20 billion from the federal government for security measures compared to the transit industry’s $386 million. Those numbers seem out of joint when you consider that public transit systems in the U.S. carry more than 32 million passengers a day, which comes to roughly 16 times the number of air travelers.


March Networks Settles Patent Dispute

New York - E-Watch was in a patent dispute with the provider of Internet Protocol based digital video surveillance solutions. Without the admission regarding the validity, enforceability or infringement of any E-Watch patents, March Networks has agreed to pay E-Watch a $2 million settlement.

Transit Security Funds Offensive

"Spit in the eye ... A slap in the face ... Like handing a bum a dime and saying, `Go buy a cup of coffee.'"

True to his iconoclastic form, TTC chairman Howard Moscoe used these unrepentant words, and more, to describe how he felt after getting just $1.46 million in security funding from the federal government yesterday.

Transit agencies in six cities nationwide received a total of $37 million to help beef up security. That money included $5.3 million to GO Transit and $4.3 million to Union Station.
"Based on our ridership, we should be getting one-third of the money. The TTC carries 85 per cent of all of the passengers in the GTA on its transit system. It's spit in the eye," he said. "It shows utter and complete disrespect for the citizens of Toronto. It's like handing a bum a dime and saying, `Go buy a cup of coffee.'"

Moscoe, re-elected Monday in Ward 15 (Eglinton-Lawrence), said the agency wanted $17 million to pay the cost of installing 2,500 security cameras in subways. Already the TTC is paying that amount to install cameras on buses and streetcars by the end of 2007.


Cisco Wi-Fi Mesh Moves Houston METRO

Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) Launches Innovative Wireless Network for Public Safety and Traffic Telemetry
SAN JOSE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 14, 2006 -- Cisco® (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced that the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO), one of the nation's largest transit authorities, is deploying a Cisco wireless mesh network as an innovative means to help protect commuters and provide for better transit service experience.
Houston METRO will deploy Cisco Aironet® 1500 Series mesh access points at 47 locations throughout the city, including METRO Park & Ride lots and major stops. At each of these locations, Houston METRO will link Internet Protocol (IP) security cameras, which will be able to scan and report in real time suspicious activities and monitor other public safety concerns -- all by utilizing Cisco's wireless Wi-Fi mesh network.
"METRO realizes that our customers leave a valuable investment at our park and ride lots and it's imperative that we provide them with the safest environment possible," said Erik Oistad, chief information officer of Houston METRO.
Additionally, Houston METRO is equipping 150 intersections with Cisco wireless and mobile routers. A Cisco 3200 Series Router allows for signal information to be uploaded without recurring monthly charges and provides for future traffic management enhancements, such as video surveillance and wireless hot spots for METRO employees and public safety officials. This would allow the transit authority to monitor traffic situations around the county and better plan and optimize transit services as traffic dynamically changes.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Al Qaeda may plan Europe transit attacks: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Al Qaeda may be planning to attack rail and air travel in Europe -- possibly targeting the busy holiday travel season -- according to intelligence findings, the "CBS Evening News" reported on Friday.
The report, citing Arab and other intelligence sources, said interrogations of al Qaeda suspects who recently left

Afghanistan and Pakistan raised the concerns."One suspect said plans for repeating the Heathrow attempt (a plot foiled in August to bomb trans-Atlantic airplanes) were all prepared," the network quoted an Arab official as saying.
"It is now a matter of taking action ... Al Qaeda's strategy appears to be raising the pressure in Europe," the official, who requested anonymity, told the network.

The report came as Britain's intelligence agency, MI5, said on Friday that Muslim extremists were plotting at least 30 major terrorist attacks in Britain, and the threats may involve chemical and nuclear devices.

Britain suffered its worst peacetime attack in July 2005 when four British Islamists blew themselves up on London's transport network, killing 52 commuters and wounding hundreds