The Reality of Real – Time Vehicle Surveillance

Video surveillance systems are being used more and more on mass transit vehicles.

From buses, to subways to ferries, it seems that video surveillance has finally struck a chord in public transportation and is being implemented to improve the safety and security of the people using it.

Read the full article published on: 2014 ISC West Show Daily


by Cosimo Malesci, Co-founder and VP of Sales & Marketing, Fluidmesh Networks, Inc.

 

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in video surveillance systems that have been deployed on mass transit vehicles. From buses, to subways to ferries, it seems that video surveillance has finally struck a chord in public transportation and is being implemented to improve the safety and security of the people using it. Depending on the vehicles, the trend seems to be a combination of interior and exterior cameras. The interior cameras are used mainly to monitor passengers and personnel and can provide useful information to fight crime as well as liability claims from both personnel and customers- potentially saving the transit agency from spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on lawsuits. The exterior cameras are used primarily to monitor vehicle operations and provide video evidence in the event of an an accident.

 

From a technology standpoint, these systems are usually comprised of by anywhere from two to 12 cameras per vehicle that are being recorded on an on-board DVR. Most of the systems are capable of supporting HD or 4CIF and usually run at anywhere between 20 and 30 frames per second. The system also includes one or more wireless interfaces to offload the recorded video when needed.

 

Video off-loading seems to be one of the biggest challenges that transit operators are facing at the moment. With fleets of up to 3000 vehicles pulling into a depot, managing recorded video is not an easy task. The main issue is caused by the fact that on-board DVRs have been traditionally equipped with standard 802.11 Wi-Fi which is not suitable for this application and cannot handle so much traffic. The outcome is that many transit operators are forced to hire full time crews with the only goal of pulling DVRs out at the end of the day from all those vehicles where video evidence is needed. Clearly, this is a very costly procedure and very prone to human error. In addition, with shrinking operating budgets in the public sector, this is not a sustainable approach in the long term.

 

Luckily enough, some specialized wireless solutions for video offloads are now starting to hit the marketplace. These new systems use smarter wireless protocols specifically designed to handle vehicle fleets with massive amount of data to be offloaded in a small amount of time, In addition, they offer the capability of creating multiple download points across a given route, thus creating a wider window of communication between the vehicles and the head end. This translates into more up-to-date information and less congestions in the depot. Some of the transit agencies are even going for full real time connectivity that is becoming now a reality. Thanks to newly developed MPLS based wireless technologies, it is now possible to achieve up to 100 Mbps up to 220 Mph. This will strongly improve the situation and allow agencies to be more efficient in accessing their recorded video. In addition, this will allow agencies to also save a substantial amount of money from cellular/3G/4G based plans as they will partially be replaced by these new technologies. Real time vehicle video surveillance is a reality. Exciting times ahead!