Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Covering All The Angles" - Transit Bus Camera Placement

Brief describing common onboard bus transit camera placements.

Vancouver Okays Digital Camera Upgrades

The 880 cameras installed in SkyTrain stations are about to become a much more powerful investigative tool for police.
TransLink said Wednesday it will pay a B.C. firm $1.8 million to upgrade the rapid transit system’s video surveillance monitoring system to capture and store images digitally.
Intercon Security will carry out the work by July using video technology supplied by IndigoVision, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The existing SkyTrain cameras will stay in use – replacing them would have been much more expensive – but the old VCR system of recording video to VHS video tape will be scrapped.
The tapes are overwritten automatically, meaning police only have a two-hour window after an incident to ask TransLink to pull them for review.
The new digital capture system will store images for up to seven days.
It will digitally relay video from each station to SkyTrain’s operations centre, where staff watch a large bank of live monitors for trouble.
Initially, only three of the 20-plus cameras at each station will be viewable at a time, but future upgrades to the SkyTrain data network will make any camera viewable in real time both at the operations centre and from any point in the system.
That means police may be able to tap into the system at one platform and remotely watch suspects through a camera in another part of the station or at a different station.
That would be a valuable tool, says Transit Police Staff Sgt. Ken Schinkel.
“It’s always nice to be able to see what you’re walking into,” he said. “It’s certainly beneficial to have some place we can catch a feed or even have a feed into our office and be able to live monitor something.”
Schinkel said the ability to review recorded video older than two hours will be a huge help.
“Quite often we get calls the next day and it’s too late,” he said. “This is a quantum leap in terms of obtaining evidentiary information.”
TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie says the main uses of video monitoring are mundane – like determining whether something fell onto the track after an alarm went off.
But digitally recorded video may open the door to other policing possibilities.
British police plan to use facial recognition software to scan video camera feeds for matches with images of suspects.
Other transit systems are also studying that and other advanced video analytics to counter the threat of terrorism.
The entire field of transit surveillance is evolving fast since British authorities used video evidence to quickly identify the terrorists who in 2005 bombed London’s subway system, killing 52 and injuring 700.
Intelligent video systems may be able to automatically detect an item abandoned by a passenger or someone who enters a restricted area.
Hardie says such possibilities are far ahead of anything TransLink has planned.
“The technical platform will allow you to do all kinds of things,” he said. “A whole other discussion has to take place as to whether that’s what the tool will be used for.”
B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner is still reviewing TransLink plans to add video cameras to the buses.

N.J. seeks help from Congress on rail security

New Jersey's rail systems do not have the resources they need to keep passengers safe from terrorist attacks or accidents, the state's homeland security director told a U.S. Senate committee Thursday.
From low-tech fences and trained dogs to "smart" video cameras that can spot unattended bags and experimental high-tech sensors that "sniff" passengers for explosives, Richard L. Canas said there's much that needs to be done to protect the "soft target" of passenger rail.

"There is a vast gap between what we need to do and what funds we have," Canas told the Senate's transportation committee, which later this year will consider a $1.2 billion truck, bus and rail security bill.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., a high-ranking committee member and advocate for the security bill who invited Canas to testify, said the government spends billions of dollars a year on airline security but "we are simply neglecting the security of our surface transportation systems."
"More people travel through Penn Station in New York City in a day than use all three of the major New York-New Jersey airports combined," Lautenberg said.
"And, every day, 11.3 million people ride rail in this country."
The hearing came the week of a newspaper expose that also found lax freight rail security around the nation, including at several northern New Jersey sites.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said one of its reporters was able to walk into manufacturers storing hazardous chemicals and the rail lines that transport the materials at 12 New Jersey sites. Its report said chemical plant security was generally better in New Jersey than the rest of the country but that rail lines seemed no safer.
On Thursday, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the nation's security policy is "reactive" and it seems as though the Department of Homeland Security is waiting for something to happen on a train or bus before getting serious about transit security.
But safer trains and buses could come at a price to passengers.
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, noted that airline passengers pay a $10 round-trip security fee, and he pointed to Canas as he said there should not be more money for rail security unless passengers pay something toward it.
Canas also questioned how much of a delay passengers would be willing to endure for more safety. He noted that a test by the Transportation Security Administration at the Exchange Place PATH station of an explosive detection device held up each passenger for three to five seconds.
"That was enough to cause a bottleneck," he said.
Cost and delays were also the concerns raised as the committee discussed how to make freight trains that carry hazardous chemicals more secure.
Kip Hawley, assistant secretary of TSA, said the government has tried to avoid the expense of building fences along rail lines by working with rail carriers to minimize the time trains spend idling unattended in unsecured areas.
Canas said his office was working with the CSX Railroad to get better tracking information on its containers before the New Jersey Turnpike goes ahead with building a fence near rail tracks across from Newark Liberty International Airport.
Executives of agencies that regulate railroads and the trucking industry said they were supportive of governmental security programs as long as they did not duplicate what was already being done by the private sector and did not delay the flow of commerce.
E-mail: jackson@northjersey.com

New NJ Transit bus fleet to have surveillance cameras

Home News Tribune Online 01/22/07THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEWARK: The board of New Jersey Transit on is expected to approve the purchase of a fleet of new buses tomorrow that will include a new feature: closed-circuit camera systems.The agency would purchase 1,145 buses equipped with the cameras to bolster security.""They have great deterrent value,'' said Jim Gigantino, acting vice president and general manager for bus operations. ""If there's an incident that does occur, the images can be retrieved.''He said the cameras will not be monitored, but will record digitally. Pictures can be retrieved when necessary and can be used by police to identify suspects. Several cameras will be positioned inside each bus to record different views.

NJ Transit is testing two different types of cameras and recording systems and will determine which system to use in about eight to 10 months.Video cameras have been installed on some buses operating in Essex, Passaic, Bergen and Union counties. Those cameras record data when activated by the operator or when triggered by a sudden change in ""g-force'' such as a collision.The other pilot program in South Jersey uses cameras that continuously record from multiple interior and exterior positions.The new buses, to cost $443 million, are expected to be in service around the state in about a year, Gigantino said.The new fleet will be equipped with wheelchair lifts and will meet or exceed the latest environmental standards to reduce exhaust emissions, he said.