Technology is key to public transport surveillance
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.