Technology is key to public transport surveillance

November 7, 2013

A couple of days ago I had an
argument with a friend on what ail cities when it comes to public transport. My argument was that there is need to have a secure 
environment for both passengers and staff equally. This is because public transit systems spans busy
 streets and a wide range of incidents could happen and sometimes seemingly all
 at once. Commuters sometimes face violence at a station while others get injured by
moving vehicles. Most countries authorities must decide 
whether or how to respond and research has shown that it isn’t always easy especially if the information
 delays to reaches the alarm central or if what is relayed is vague. This one of the reason why I think a
holistic public transportation security provides protection for passengers,
personnel and assets and it includes caring for passengers’ safety during their
 travel, from the very start of the journey until the final stop and exit out of
the public transport system, protecting the personnel during their complete
work shift, during day and at night, as well as protecting assets regardless of
 location at stations, depots, along the infrastructure and rolling stock. In my own experience, public transport systems in both urban and rural locations cover very big security domains.

The number of locations, vehicles and length of infrastructure are diverse and disperse and multitudes
 of security-related events that occur originate not only from the volume of
passengers but are also a mirror of many society’s issues and problems. Surveillance
systems serve as the instrumental tool for security operators to be able to
 assess the situation at hand and make a decision remotely on what to do for
 each specific case. Ability to connect the right response to the right 
incident is the role of the surveillance system at its essence. There is a big difference
 between handling violence or vandalism at a station, managing a response to 
pick pocketing or other disorderly behavior on board a bus or metro like in my upbringing town of Melbourne and intercepting metal theft taking place on the rail 
infrastructure or detecting and preventing graffiti before it takes places at
 the depot as has been the case in many developing regions like Africa and Asia. Surveillance
systems are great at capturing these types of events, being the “prolonged 
eyes. ” There are challenges however, with enforcing transport surveillance. Vast number of people using public transport makes it a challenge to
 monitor compared to say, at airports. Add to this the high number of entrances 
and exits on trains, buses, depots and stations, and designing an installation 
becomes tricky.

Contador Harrison