Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bring on Big Brother - Winnipeg Get's the Picture

The explosion of surveillance cameras in society -- especially in the downtown -- used to annoy me.

The thought of Big Brother, or some pimply-faced security guard in the basement of a shopping mall, monitoring my every move didn't sit well with me.

The number of private surveillance cameras inside and outside stores, office buildings and hotels skyrocketed in the 1990s, making it virtually impossible to walk two blocks downtown without being on someone's spy cam.

But I got used to it.

So when city hall now says it's considering installing surveillance cameras in high-crime areas to help bust muggers, armed punks and all the other scumbags who make our streets unsafe, I say bring it on.


Parvus Mobile 802.11 Hotspot Enables Wi-Fi Trial for MBTA Passengers, First U.S. Wireless Internet Service for Commuter Rail

SALT LAKE CITY, UT and BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - January 29, 2008) - Parvus Corporation today announced that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has included Parvus RiderNet3 mobile access points in a Wi-Fi pilot program, believed to be the nation's first cellular-based wireless Internet service for commuter rail.

Beginning Jan. 30, the MBTA "Wi-Fi Commuter Rail Connect Test Program" will offer free wireless Internet service on at least one coach of every train traveling the 45-mile commuter rail line between Worcester and Boston. Forty-five coaches will initially be equipped with the service, enabling the line's 18,000 daily passengers to use laptop computers, cellular phones, PDAs, or other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to access the Internet during their commutes to and from South Station on participating coaches.

"One of the first programs of this type on a United States commuter rail system, this service will provide our customers with the opportunity to get the most out of their time spent commuting," said MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas. "During this test phase, feedback from our riders will be solicited to help us maximize the technology's benefits, and then expand the program to other parts of the 13-line Commuter Rail system."

Wi-Fi amenities on buses and trains are becoming more common and are frequently cited as inducements for using public transit, particularly to improve productivity of commuters as they go back and forth to work. On Jan. 27, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray announced that the MBTA was ready to launch this innovative pilot program.


March Networks to Acquire IP Video Solutions Developer

OTTAWA, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - March Networks(TM) (TSX:MN;
AIM:MNW), a leading provider of intelligent IP video and business analysis
applications, announced today that it has entered into a definitive
agreement to acquire Cieffe S.p.A. and its related company Insignis
Technologies S.r.l.

Cieffe, based in Milan, Italy, develops high performance IP video
surveillance solutions used by enterprise-class organizations across
Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. With a reputation for innovative
design and advanced functionality, Cieffe's products are used by leading
European financial institutions and a number of high profile airport,
government and commercial industrial clients for mission-critical security
applications. Cieffe's calendar 2007 revenue is estimated at (euro)10
million (CAD 14.7 million). Cieffe's pre-tax profit for the 10 months ended
October 31, 2007 was approximately (euro)400,000 (CAD 600,000) and its net
asset position at October 31, 2007 was approximately (euro)1.5 million (CAD
2.0 million).


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Security image captures slain woman's last movements

Calgary police hope a grainy image from a surveillance camera will be enough to jog witnesses' memories as they continue to investigate the death of a woman found near an LRT station.

A grainy image from a surveillance camera may be enough to jog witnesses' memories as Calgary police continue to investigate the death of a woman found near an LRT station last week.


NYC's Subway Spycam Network Stuck in the Station

New York City's plan to secure its subways with a next-generation surveillance network is getting more expensive by the second, and slipping further and further behind schedule.

A new report by the New York State Comptroller's office reveals that "the cost of the electronic security program has grown from $265 million to $450 million, an increase of $185 million or 70 percent." An August 2008 deadline has been pushed back to December 2009, and further delays may be just ahead.

Shortly after a series of bombings in the London Tube, The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which oversees New York's mass transit systems, signed a contract in 2005 with defense contractor Lockheed Martin to put in thousands of security cameras, electronic tripwires, and digitally-controlled gates into New York's sprawling network of subways. The deal was inked just a few months after MTA chairman Peter Kalikow argued against "wasting money on unproven technology."

At the heart of the program was a network of surveillance cameras, passing what they saw through a set of intelligent video algorithms, designed to spot suspicious behavior: a bag left on the subway platform, a person jumping down to the tracks, a mob running up a down escalator.

... More

CTA Says Cameras in Trains will Help with Emergency Response

CTA train operators and police officers will be able to tap into live videos shot from inside new rail cars to respond to crime or other emergencies, transit officials said Wednesday.

The security cameras are among almost $27 million in upgrades approved Wednesday by the Chicago Transit Authority Board for 406 rail cars scheduled for delivery beginning in 2010. About $577 million already had been earmarked for the purchase.

The new rail cars will also feature seats with an anti-stain fabric less likely to absorb odors; flat-screen TV monitors that give the train's location on the route, the next station and travel time estimates; more seats facings the aisles; and a new traction system to provide faster and smoother rides, officials said.

Onboard technology also will diagnose mechanical problems on trains, reducing maintenance costs so sharply, CTA President Ron Huberman predicted, the savings would cover the $26.6 million cost of the upgrades in just five years.

"We won't be tearing up a train to find out what's wrong," he said.

A passenger could activate the security system's real-time video feed by pressing a "panic" button on the new rail cars.


ICOP to be Featured at New York City Security Event

LENEXA, Kan., Jan. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ICOP Digital, Inc.
, an industry-leading company engaged in advancing digital
surveillance solutions, today announced that its President and Chief Operating
Officer, Laura Owen, is scheduled to participate in an upcoming panel
discussion titled "Critical Infrastructure Protection: Investing In Security &


Monday, January 21, 2008

Bus Cameras Used to Nab Illegal Parkers in Transit-only Lanes

Aided by video cameras mounted on buses, San Francisco has launched an initiative to punish drivers who illegally park in transit-only lanes.

The goal is to clear traffic lanes for Muni buses, which are operating at an average speed of 8 mph, making the Municipal Railway among the slowest transit agencies of any major U.S. city.

The cameras will attempt to catch motorists parked in traffic lanes reserved for buses. For now, offenders will be let off with a written warning. But starting in the next month or so, if all goes according to plan, they'll be hit with a $100 fine - one of the city's stiffest parking penalties.

The cameras, mounted behind bus windshields, will be focused on the license plates of vehicles in transit-only lanes. The images will be reviewed daily by parking-control officers, who will determine whether a violation has occurred. The registered owners of the offending vehicles will be mailed a citation. They can pay or protest the ticket.

City officials, who needed special permission from the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to emplace the cameras, hope the program will help unclog streets and improve the on-time performance of the Municipal Railway.

"This should translate to faster, more reliable bus service, and that's what will attract even more people out of their cars and onto transit," said Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees both the city's transit system and parking and traffic-control operations.

That's a lofty goal for Muni, which averages nearly 700,000 boardings a day but is consistently hammered by riders for chronic unreliability. The agency has never met a 1999 voter mandate that Muni vehicles show up on schedule at least 85 percent of the time; instead, on-time performance has tiptoed around the 70 percent mark.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and city transit officials say that in order to make significant improvements, Muni would need at least $100 million more a year to pay for increased staffing and equipment upgrades - on top of the current annual budget of about $670 million. They also are calling for operational changes, such as reconfiguring routes, schedules and bus stops. Details of such changes are under review.

The onboard camera test began this week with two buses on the 14-Mission line, to be followed soon by two more buses on the 38-Geary, and it will be ramped up over the next three months, Newsom said. If successful, the program - already endorsed by the union representing Muni drivers - will be expanded to all routes that use specially marked bus lanes.

Parthex Inc., which supplies surveillance cameras on Muni vehicles, is providing the initial set of traffic cameras - worth about $30,000 each - for the trial period at no cost to the city.

The new cameras won't solve all of Muni's woes, officials concede. "But this is going to be a lot bigger than some people may think when it comes to improving on-time performance," Newsom said. "When a bus comes down the street, people are going to look at it very differently - as not just a bus but as a traffic-control vehicle, too."


Transit Bus Cameras Capture Driver Killed in Bus Collision

A 25-year-old woman was killed Friday morning when a Santa Clarita city bus carrying students collided with the vehicle she was driving in the Stevenson Ranch area, officials said. Four people on the bus were injured.

Janine M. Doughlin was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. She was from Stevenson Ranch.

The accident took place about 8 a.m. when Doughlin was trying to turn left from Constitution Avenue onto The Old Road, officials said.

Doughlin's Toyota Camry was struck as the bus, traveling south on The Old Road, passed through the intersection at about 40 mph, said Officer John Lutz of the California Highway Patrol in Newhall. The intersection has a traffic signal, he said.

The bus was carrying students to school, said CHP Sgt. Gretchen Jacobs. Three bus passengers and the bus driver suffered minor injuries, Lutz said.

The driver, David J. Delape, 49, of Rosamond, and one youth were taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital for treatment. The two other injured passengers were treated at the scene and released. The bus was carrying 19 passengers, Lutz said.

CHP officers closed The Old Road for several hours after the crash.

Santa Clarita city buses have video cameras onboard, said Gail Ortiz, a spokeswoman for the city, and officials plan to use that recording in their investigation.

"We have a really good safety record," Ortiz said.

Delape has worked for the city transit system since October, meets all safety training regulations and has 10 years' experience driving city buses, Santa Clarita officials said. On Friday he was driving his regular route.

Ortiz estimated that the passengers were ages 12 to 15. A couple of thousand junior high and high school students ride public buses to area schools, city spokeswoman Alisha Celestine said.


TTC Drivers in Crisis?

Nearly 200 TTC bus, streetcar and subway operators are suffering from severe stress usually associated with survivors of combat, natural disasters and rape.

Their rate of post-traumatic stress disorder is about four times that of police officers who patrol Toronto streets, and the city's transit drivers report these problems more than any other workers in Ontario, according to provincial data.

Drivers have suffered a wide range of abuse – shot at with an air rifle, punched in the eye, head-butted in the mouth, gashed with a broken beer bottle, to list just a few examples the Star uncovered.


Calgary Transit To Audit Safety

A safety audit will be conducted on the city's transit system after several aldermen raised concerns about crime and safety on and along the C-Train.

The move, which comes after several incidents of women being attacked near the LRT stations, was passed unanimously Monday by city council.

Ald. Druh Farrell, who brought forward the motion with Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, said women are starting to feel unsafe riding the C-Train.

"Women's perception of personal safety is different," she said. "Women are our customers. We need to listen to women."

Farrell added that the LRT is becoming a "warming station for vagrants."

Other aldermen agreed, with some suggesting the city needs to consider installing turnstiles at the stations and installing video cameras at the park-and-ride lots.

Mayor Dave Bronconnier said many of the issues come with becoming a bigger city, suggesting Calgary's transit system is maintained and run well by its employees.

"They are doing a good job, they are just really well used," he said. "We do need to always be diligent about public safety."

There have been recent incidents of women being attacked near LRT stations, including one last Friday when a woman was found dead near a southeast C-Train station.

Police have said the crime scene across from Franklin station showed signs of violence, although the death has not yet been declared a homicide.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Updated Directory of Driver Risk Management Systems

Current listings for driver risk management system as of this date:

Alert Driving -
Drive and Survive -
DriveCam -
Green Road Technologies -
Smart Drive -
Viewnyx -
Vigil Systems -

Driver Risk Management System Offers Risk Free Trial

GreenRoad Technologies Inc. (, an innovative leader in driver safety technologies, today announced the GreenRoad Fleet Safety Challenge, a new initiative which promises early adopters of GreenRoad SafetyCenter that they will see a 50 percent reduction in risky driver behavior over a six-month pilot period. The program provides a no-risk opportunity for fleets to quickly reduce their accident rates. GreenRoad SafetyCenter has been proven to reduce fleet accidents by an average of 54 percent and reduce associated accident costs by up to 83 percent.

SafetyCenter, GreenRoad's flagship offering, reduces fleet accidents by combining in-vehicle driver feedback with integrated web reporting for an advanced approach that rates driving skills without invading driver privacy or tracking location. SafetyCenter works through a sensor in the vehicle that detects driver skill and safety in categories such as: speed, braking, acceleration, lane-handling and turning. The sensor automatically generates a safety analysis for each driver that can be viewed on the Web to show overall safety level and detailed information about areas that need improvement.

The GreenRoad Fleet Safety Challenge includes installation of the SafetyCenter in-vehicle hardware, ongoing risk consulting, custom analysis, Internet applications, measurement of results and product support, all for one inclusive price. At the end of the six month pilot period, GreenRoad guarantees that fleet driver risk will be reduced by 50 percent, or customers will be under no further obligation to continue the program.

"We are offering this incentive to potential customers because of the success we are having with SafetyCenter," said Dan Steere, GreenRoad CEO. “Our technology is able to save fleets a significant amount of money by reducing accidents, and this program gives fleets the opportunity to see results without a long-term risk.”

For more information about the GreenRoad Safety Challenge, visit

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Indianapolis Police Work with IndyGo Bus Cameras to Solve Crimes

By Al Edwards - 12.26.2007

INDIANAPOLIS--IndyGo Transit recently completed a camera installation that officials say is bettering its security partnership with the local police department.

IndyGo, the largest transit system in Indiana with nearly nine million riders annually, completed installing 1,800 cameras to its fleet of 237 buses recently as part of a two-year project. The cameras fall in line with the system's partnership with the city's crime prevention efforts, which includes assisting the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

In early December, police used one of the bus's cameras to solve a burglary. The bus's exterior camera recorded the house's door without damage, and 20 minutes later the camera recorded the door with damage. Police used the footage to determine the time of the incident.

"We have a couple of things a month that we share back and forth right now," said Mike Birch, director of safety and training for IndyGo. "They can also use it for routine things in terms of traffic observation."

Working with the local police department is crucial for IndyGo, which doesn't have its own security, Birch said. The partnering initiative and the technology boost transit safety, he said.

"Part of our safety and security plan was bringing our camera system up to par," Birch said. "We depend on 911 service and the police department to lend us assistance when there is a problem or an emergency."

Accident claims have dropped 50 percent since the beginning of camera installation in 2005, Birch said.

IndyGo used a $3 million federal transit security grant to complete the project.

School Bus Camera Pilot in Quebec, Canada

BUCKINGHAM, Quebec—An on-board December fire, driver intimidation and student fighting recently prompted the Quebec school board to install cameras on two school buses.

The school board will be installing the cameras on two routes that carry students to Ecole Secondaire Hormisdas-Gamelin after students started a paper fire and burned seats, Sylvain Leger, vice president of Commission Scolaire au Coeur-des-Vallees, told the CanWest News Service.

“There was intimidation against other students and against school bus drivers themselves,” Leger told the news service.

The school bus drivers’ union requested the cameras.

The fire didn’t cause any injuries, but it frightened the driver and other passengers.

Schools officials said they hope the cameras will deter students from causing problems, and the school board’s transportation committee will assess the effectiveness of the measure in late January.

Leger told the news service that violence has increased in Quebec schools in recent years.

The article also said it is not known if the school board had consulted the police or the Quebec Ministry of Education about the plan to install cameras on the buses.

Charlene Hunter, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, told the news service that the board is not considering cameras on a combined bus system for public and separate schools in 2008.