Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cameras To Be Installed on Honolulu Buses

By Sean HaoAdvertiser Staff Writer

Smile. You could be on TheBus camera. Starting as soon as this week, the city may begin using surveillance cameras on city buses.

The city will test different systems and award a contract on June 15 for the installation of cameras and microphones on 49 buses, or 9 percent of the fleet, according to a request for bids issued May 3. The city has not said if it plans to expand the program to all 531 buses.

The addition of cameras to TheBus is supposed to:
• Provide a sense of security for drivers and passengers,
• Reduce criminal activity, including theft and vandalism, and
• Reduce liability complaints.

However, plans to install surveillance equipment on buses are drawing opposition from employees of O'ahu Transit Services Inc., operator of TheBus. Teamsters Local 996, which covers about 1,300 drivers, mechanics, maintenance workers and clerical staff of OTS, has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking to prevent the city from installing the surveillance equipment.

Bus employees are concerned that video and audio information gathered could be used against them, said Ron Kozuma, president of Local 996. "The cameras really should be to monitor the perimeter of facilities and the people going onto the bus, not to monitor the operator or employees," he said. "It's like anybody else — how would they feel if they were watched by their boss for eight hours a day or 10 hours a day.

"I think that's unreasonable working conditions to be under. The company has an obligation to negotiate those types of things with the union, which they have not."
Roger Morton, president and general manager for OTS, referred questions about the bus surveillance system to James Burke, chief of the city's Public Transit Division. The Advertiser called Burke yesterday morning and was told he was in a meeting. Later in the day, Burke's office referred questions about bus cameras to city transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka. At about 3.30 p.m., Yoshioka's office said he was at a City Council budget meeting. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, Yoshioka had not contacted The Advertiser to comment on the bus cameras.
Honolulu would join a growing list of cities with bus surveillance equipment that includes San Francisco, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The installation of video and audio recording equipment in buses also has raised concerns about privacy invasion. Last year The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority added cameras to some rail cars. The cameras are equipped with microphones. However, they're kept off because of privacy concerns, according to a September story in The Washington Post.
Officials with the Hawaii Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union were unavailable for comment on this story yesterday.

Privately gathered video already has been used to discipline a Honolulu bus driver. In 2008, a bus passenger caught a driver on video playing a hand-held electronic game. That driver was suspended.

The city started soliciting bids for the bus surveillance system on May 3 and set a May 10 deadline for bidders to schedule a test of their equipment. That dead- line was later extended to May 14 after a complaint by at least one vendor. The city has said the contract must be in place before the end of June. However, the budget for the project has not been disclosed.
Once the contract is awarded, the winning bidder will have one year to install the equipment on 40, 40-foot buses and nine, 60-foot buses.

According to the city's request for bids, the cameras will be mounted in six positions:
• Facing out the front window;
• Facing the front door and fare box;
• Mounted at the front, but facing the rear of the bus;
• Mounted at the center, but facing the rear of the bus;
• Mounted outside the bus facing curbside;
• And mounted outside the bus facing roadside;

Articulated 60-foot buses will have two additional cameras. Each of the 49 buses also will be equipped with a microphone , which will record audio in the proximity of the bus driver and fare box. Video and audio would be stored in a recorder on the bus and be available remotely.
The upcoming surveillance system test follows a small-scale test of similar technology on TheBus in 2007.

Reach Sean Hao at

Monday, May 24, 2010

Metrolink Engineer Tampering with Locomotive Surveillance Cameras

An engineer has been barred from operating Metrolink trains and another is under investigation for allegedly tampering with new locomotive surveillance cameras designed to improve safety on the commuter line after federal investigators found an engineer's actions contributed to the deadly 2008 Chatsworth crash.
Metrolink officials accused one engineer of making three attempts to block the cameras' view. That engineer, who works for an operating contractor, Connex Railroad LLC, has been barred from running any train on Metrolink-controlled tracks, agency spokeswoman Angela Starr said.
Another engineer allegedly clipped a paper to a visor to block the camera in March. He is still operating Metrolink trains pending the outcome of an investigation, Starr said.
Metrolink is the first commuter train agency in the nation to install cameras in the cab to monitor engineers. The action followed a federal investigation that found the engineer of a Metrolink train was sending and receiving text messages on his cell phone before running a red signal light and slamming into a freight train. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, and 24 others were killed in the September 2008 crash in Chatsworth.
A union representing the engineers has filed a federal lawsuit challenging use of the cameras. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen alleges that sun visors were moved to accomodate the cameras, making it difficult for engineers to see clearly when there's a sun glare.
Metrolink contends the cameras' installations have not created a problem because sunglasses are isued to engineers and the visors are still available, Starr said.
The engineer banned from the railroad deliberately was seen blocking the camera's view by turning the device and later putting a visor in front of the lens, she said.
A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, which investigates safety issues, said the agency is aware of the disciplinary cases but had not received any complaint about possible sun glare hazards related to the cameras.
Metrolink's contract with Connex expires in late June, and Amtrak will begin providing train crews for the commuter line.Read more:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Directory of In-Car Police Video Surveillance Cameras Systems

Police In-Car Video Surveillance Systems have become standard equipment for law enforcement agencies all over the land. Video systems have evolved from tape based ruggedized VCR (Video Cassette Recorders) to solid state and hard disk based recording systems complete with numerous enhancements that include advanced capabilities for wireless video data transfers and live video sharing. Frost & Sullivan 2009 Report states that Police Car Video is one of the leading growth markets for mobile video surveillance due to flow of funds into this sector. In December, 2008 the IACP (International Association of Police Chiefs) prepared a comprehensive list of requirements for in-car police video systems.

Developments in this line of public safety equipment will include increased vehicle-side integration to other police car sub systems and sensors. These developments will include LPR (License Plate Recognition), Thermal Imaging, officer-worn system peripherals, high-definition cameras, and GPS, radio, dispatch and reporting enhancements. On the back-end increased capability for network-based video evidence management, annotation, distribution and integration with common records management systems. Below is a list of all the manufacturers of Police Car Camera systems currently serving North America. (updated April 7, 2011)

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FBI Best Practices for CCTV Systems

Caught on Camera is a video created by the FBI's Operational Technology Division to show business owners how their security cameras can aid law enforcement investigations and maybe even help stop a terrorist attack. More at:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Texas Bus Driver Finds Baby in Road

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bus Video Shows Brutal Driver Beating

EDMONTON -- A video of the brutal curb stomping of the face of an Edmonton Transit bus driver – an attack that “horrified” stunned eyewitnesses – was shown in court Monday.

The recording, captured because the bus was equipped with a video camera, was played as part of the criminal proceedings against Gary Edwin Mattson, 25.

After Mattson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on May 6, the Crown said it is seeking to have him declared a dangerous offender and handed an indefinite prison term.

The graphic, soundless video begins with an agitated Mattson, who is wearing a hoody pulled over his head, arguing with bus driver Tom Bregg, 58, over the fare.

Bregg eventually drives off, but then stops again and can be seen motioning for Mattson to get off the bus.

Mattson then gets right in the face of Bregg, pointing and gesturing, while, according to passengers on the #10 bus, continuing to yell and swear at the long-time driver.

Then, unexpectedly and unbelievably quick, Mattson attacks. He punches Bregg three times in the face, knocking him unconscious, and then grabs the driver and throws him out the front door and onto the ground.

Mattson immediately follows and begins stomping on Bregg’s face, using the bus door for additional leverage. He comes down with his shoe 14 times, pauses for a second and then launches one last blow before fleeing.

The video then shows a passenger coming to the doorway and looking out before returning with a disturbed look. Other passengers can then be seen coming off the bus and checking on the injured driver before help arrives.

Mattson had been charged with attempted murder for the vicious Dec. 3 attack, which happened about 7:30 a.m. near 139 Avenue and Victoria Trail, but the Crown plans to withdraw that charge in exchange for the guilty plea.

He has also pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer for spitting at a city police officer following his arrest at a nearby home a short time after the brutal bus attack.

“There was lots of blood and it was difficult to watch,” said one witness. Other passengers said the driver’s face “was smashed in pretty bad,” his nose looked like it was pushed into his face and he was making choking noises.

Two large pools of blood were also clearly visible outside the door of the bus.

Court heard Bregg was unable to breathe when taken to hospital and needed an emergency tracheotomy to open his airways. He also had severe facial injuries, including multiple fractures and lacerations to his nose and ears, which surgeons described as a “pan facial smash.”

Bregg, who was left barely recognizable, could not recall the attack for two weeks and remained in intensive care for 16 days before being transferred to the Glenrose rehabilitation centre. He has since undergone two reconstructive surgeries on his face, and one on his eyes, and is awaiting further surgery. His left eye remains shut.

Bregg, who is single and has no children, has worked for ETS since 1976 and is also a motorcycle safety instructor. He is currently on disability leave and not driving bus.

The case is slated to be back in court on May 25.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Carbon Motors - E-7 Police Car with L-3 Surveillance Cameras and Built In LPR

School Buses Text Parents

BMTC buses to turn into hi-tech nannies
By: Madhusudan ManeyDate: 2010-05-13

New device to send SMSes to parents every time kids board or alight from school bus, or the vehicle speeds, accelerates or meets with accident while ferrying children

The BMTC's latest initiative is guaranteed to warm the hearts of young upwardly mobile parents who are short on time. In a first, the civic transport undertaking will install radio frequency devices in its buses leased to schools that will send SMSes to parents every time the child boards or alights the bus.

Alerts will also be sent when the bus is delayed, speeding, involved in an accident, brakes suddenly, accelerates, breaks down and gets caught in a panic-causing situation.

Joint effort
The initiative is the result of collaboration between the BMTC and Mahindra Telematics is expected to be particularly useful for working parents who will be able to monitor the movements of their children better.

"The device will be fitted with GPS/GPRS in the BMTC buses hired by Bishop Cotton Girls School. Other schools have also expressed interest in the device for which we will charge a nominal fee that will cover the cost of SMSes that will be sent every day to the parents," explained H A Balaji, Deputy Manager, Business Development, Mahindra Telematics.

Pilot project
PK Garg, director, projects, BMTC, said, "We are introducing a GPS-based SMS system in association with Mahindra Telematics in our buses that have been leased to a few city schools. Our pilot project starts next month. Eight BMTC buses with Bishop Cotton Girls School will have Radio Frequency devices installed in them.

The SMS alerts will keep parents better informed about the whereabouts of their children."

Parents this reporter spoke to welcomed the BMTC initiative. "When an emergency strikes, we will know where our children are. Once we get an SMS, we will be reassured that the kids are safe. The device will keep the parents tension-free," said Anjali M.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Invests $790 Million in 2010 Grants For Infrastructure and Preparedness

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the fiscal year 2010 Preparedness Grants for nine federal programs.

The programs include critical infrastructure-related grants—totaling nearly $790 million to assist state, local and tribal governments and the private sector in strengthening preparedness for acts of terrorism, major disasters and other emergencies.

“These grants play a major role in our efforts to work with our state, local, tribal and territorial and private sector partners to build a national culture of readiness and resilience,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We continue to focus on maximizing efficiency and value while prioritizing risk in awarding grants to strengthen our nation’s security.”

The critical infrastructure and preparedness grants announced today include specific steps undertaken by DHS to improve the ability of grant applicants to maximize funding and also incorporate input from state, local, tribal and territorial and private sector partners. Awards will be made on a rolling basis over the summer.

The FY 2010 grants announced today include:

Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) – $253.4 million to protect critical transit infrastructure from terrorism—in addition to $150 million in transit security grants provided by the Recovery Act (1, 2), totaling $403.4 million — including:

Freight Rail Security Grant Program (FRSGP) – $14.5 million to protect critical freight rail systems infrastructure from acts of terrorism resulting from railroad cars transporting toxic inhalation hazardous materials.
Intercity Passenger Rail (Amtrak) – $20 million to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from terrorism within the Amtrak rail system.

Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) – $11.5 million to assist operators of fixed-route intercity and charter bus services to support security plans, facility security upgrades and vehicle and driver protection.

Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) – $288 million to protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism; enhance maritime domain awareness and risk management capabilities to protect against improvised explosive devices and other non-conventional weapons; conduct training and exercises; and support implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)—in addition to $150 million in port security grants provided by the Recovery Act (1), totaling $438 million.

Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP) – $48 million to increase preparedness capabilities of jurisdictions responsible for safeguarding critical infrastructure sites and key resource assets, such as chemical facilities and nuclear power plants.
Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) Grant Program– $57.6 million to support the construction or renovation of Emergency Operations Centers to improve state, local or tribal emergency management and preparedness capabilities to ensure continuity of operations during disasters.

Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program (IECGP) – $48 million to assist governments in carrying out initiatives identified in Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans and improve interoperable emergency communications used to respond to natural disasters and acts of terrorism.

Driver’s License Security Grant Program (DLSGP) – $48 million to help states and territories improve security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to reduce fraud, enhance the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents and prevent terrorism.

Further information on preparedness grant programs is available at [1] and [2].

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New York Mayor Views London's Transit Camera System

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took part in a fact-finding mission Tuesday in the wake of the thwarted Times Square bombing, visiting centers where experts monitor a vast network of security cameras — one of the largest in the world.

Bloomberg wants to ramp up the security camera network in New York City's subways to mimic that in London's underground train system. London authorities say the city's train stations are watched by more than 12,000 cameras, and in a few years they aim to install a few thousand more. The additions would mean most people would be recorded when entering a subway system.

New York City has far fewer such cameras — about 4,000 along its subways — and Bloomberg has complained that half of them don't work. Police, instead, have had to rely on regular patrols.

"Crime rates in both the subway systems in London and New York City are as low as you can get, but there's always the threat of terrorism. ... Wouldn't you want to be safe?" Bloomberg told reporters. "I am here to learn from others, see what works best, and try to fix things before they become a problem."

London has one of the world's highest concentrations of surveillance cameras with a ring of them encircling the central business district. The so-called "ring of steel" was the inspiration for a 3,000-camera network being installed in lower Manhattan and midtown New York.

The New York Police Department hopes to install the 3,000 cameras by the end of 2011. It is also using private surveillance installed in major buildings as part of a massive security initiative.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bus Crash Caught on Camera

A scary situation was caught on camera when an Oshkosh city bus collided with a garbage truck Monday afternoon.

Authorities say the crash happened around 1:30 at the intersection of Porter Avenue and Dove Street.

They say a Veolia Environmental Services truck flipped on its side after traveling through a yield sign and getting hit by the front of the bus which had eight people on-board.

Every city bus in Oshkosh is equipped with four cameras. In the blink of an eye, people who are sitting in their chairs, holding on to poles, are sprawled on the floor between the seats.

A man in a front seat clings to his daughter as they're both sent sailing over a rail and towards the shattered windshield. The man lands on his back with his head towards the steps.

"Probably the only person who had a seat belt was the driver," a witness identified as Quin said. "Some of them had blisters on their hands that opened up from holding the pole and being jerked so hard."

The cameras have been in place for almost three-and-a-half years, and in situations like this they've proven to be almost invaluable.

"There's lots of reasons we use the cameras. People just want to, it helps us reconstruct things that happen on the bus," David Vickman of the Oshkosh Transit System said.

In this case, city transit leaders were able to review the video just after the crash to verify what witnesses said.

"I just know what the driver told me, and he said he was on route and had just picked up a passenger and was coming to the intersection at Dove, and a garbage truck had pulled out in front of him," Wickman said.

The driver of the garbage truck was taken to the hospital. We're told his injuries aren't life-threatening. Oshkosh police cited him for failure to yield.

All the passengers on the bus were treated at the scene.

Monday, May 03, 2010

LINK: US DOT Transit Security Cameras/Systems Fact Sheet

Feds Pay for Sante Fe Transit Cams

Despite the ongoing budget squeeze, the City of Santa Fe’s transit division plans to spend more than $100,000 to install surveillance cameras on its bus fleet.

The cameras would be paid for with a combination of federal grants, including so-called economic “stimulus” funds through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grants will fund capital improvements, but not operational costs—equipment, but not people.

“It’s kind of a catch-22, in that we have funds to make the system better, but we don’t have funds to keep the operations going at the same level,” Santa Fe Trails and Transit Division Director Jon Bulthuis says.

The stimulus may have helped patch up highways around the country but, with state and city budgets shrinking, it’s been less successful at preventing layoffs and service cuts. At the City Council’s request, Bulthuis cut his current operating budget by 15 percent, reducing bus frequency on many routes.

While the bus may take longer to show up, rest assured that when one does arrive, the ride will be captured in a high-quality digital format.

The new surveillance cameras provide a case study on double standards in the federal funding process.

“I listen and roll my eyes back when I hear how this funding comes down. Rarely is it sensible,” Beth Mills, Santa Fe County community planner, says.

Mills is trying to find money for a bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Eldorado and Santa Fe Community College, intended to offer those commuters an alternative to a dangerous stretch of road.

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7 DaysRailyard Cinema Hopeful Has Dubious RecordCash InHelp WantedCrash CityHome Sweet HomeRelated to:
economygovernmentbusSanta Fe Trailstransportationstimulus fundssurveillanceACLUbike trailsdisputeJohn BulthuisBeth Millsbicyclesbusesbus systemFederal grants offer a potential funding source—but while some projects must navigate flaming hoops to win money, others are essentially rubber-stamped.

“If we were to get federal traffic safety funds, we’d have to provide a study to show that having a bike-ped trail would cause a lessening in the number of accidents for bicyclists and pedestrians commuting between Eldorado and town. We would have to go through this whole analysis of how many people have been hit by cars,” Mills says.

Not only that, Mills would feel obliged to stage public forums on the project. “We need a public process, and we need a significant one before we can talk about moving any dirt,” she says.

Funding the new bus cameras, however, required only a grant application. And the public process is minimal: City Council will have a say on the project only after staff has reviewed the bids.

Transportation security has been a national obsession since the 9.11 attacks. Money has poured into public surveillance, despite little evidence that the technology has made anyone safer—not to mention privacy concerns. In a 2008 report, the American Civil Liberties Union attacked the quiet proliferation of surveillance cameras, citing studies in the US and United Kingdom showing the cameras have “little to no positive impact on crime.”

“It’s hard to control the misuse of the technology,” ACLU-New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson says. “Right now, it’s putting video surveillance systems on a bus, but…the fact is, we derive a great deal of privacy in this society from our anonymity. These cameras break down that expectation of privacy.”

Bulthuis’ chief concern isn’t crime, however—it’s investigating complaints against drivers. “They’re worth their weight in gold; they really are,” he says of the cameras. “Staff gets exonerated because we have that [video] data.” (AFSCME Local 3999 President Lawrence Vigil recently told the Journal North that a bus driver had been fired following a dispute with a passenger.)

According to a bid solicitation, the city wants each of its 30 fixed-route buses to be fitted with six DVR cameras; the 15 paratransit vehicles, depending on make and model, would get between two and five cameras each. In addition, between 13 and 16 cameras would be installed at the transit center on Rufina Street.

The city’s fixed-route buses are now fitted with old analog VCR cameras, Bulthuis says. Those tapes record over themselves every few hours, making them useless in resolving complaints that aren’t immediately reported. Bulthuis says DVR files will be kept for several days, but, “I don’t think forever.”