August 2011

Spotlight: Apollo’s surveillance products expand capabilities, efficiencies

by Rodell Notbohm

Apollo Video Technology's RoadRunner line of mobile surveillance equipment can be found in more than 315 public transportation agencies across the nation. As mobile video surveillance dominates the transit technology conversation, the newest trend sees transit managers turning to software to extend their capabilities, increase efficiencies and save money.

Apollo Video approached the management of this equipment with state-of-the-art, comprehensive software designed to mitigate the risk of video loss, reduce maintenance and operating costs, increase accessibility of fleet data and provide scalable, fleet-wide compatibility.

Headquartered in Woodinville, Wash., Apollo Video started in 2004 when its founders acquired the intellectual property of a highly successful security product manufacturer that provided video processing units implemented in Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Apollo Video has led the recent trend as a facilitator of the transition to digital video and high-performance mobile video surveillance systems for transit operations. Nationwide, agencies such as King County Metro Transit (Seattle), Metropolitan Transit System (San Diego), Metro Area Transit (Omaha, Neb.) and Chicago's Metra are flocking to high-tech systems thanks to federal grants, public safety pressure, and the need for hard evidence in litigation and to reduce discovery costs.

The shifting trend
The transit industry has finally begun to understand the vital importance of high-quality video surveillance solutions coupled with fleet management tools. They are turning to software in order to extend their capabilities, increase efficiencies and save money. Just as consumers search for applications and businesses look to the cloud, transit agencies are shifting their mindset from hardware-based to software-based decision making and procurement.

Apollo has long been ahead of the pack with its Vehicle Information Management (ViM) software. It works in conjunction with Wi-Fi and cellular networks, smart phone applications, accelerometers and motion detectors to increase accessibility of information to agency officials. Maximizing hardware investments, ViM provides reports and fleet-wide management of video clips and system health information. Compatible with virtually all Apollo Video RoadRunner digital video recorders (DVRs), the software delivers a fleet-wide solution regardless of the age or size of the systems installed throughout an agency's fleet.

How it works
ViM downloads and stores all system, event log information and video clips. Information for each vehicle is then available for viewing anytime, regardless of the status or location of the vehicle. Users can then view video clips previously downloaded on-demand, or request that a new video clip be downloaded the next time the system is within range of the network. With chain-of-custody reports, the ability to customize storage options, ViM provides a scalable fleet-wide solution for managing video.

San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System installed Apollo Video's RoadRunner DVR and back-end management software in 2010. The ability for the recorders to send reports of events, including video outages and failed wireless connection and send video clips to the ViM server provides the agency with up-to-the-minute fleet security information. The agency required this specific feature be a component of the mobile surveillance system it would install. Since then, Apollo Video's solution has greatly reduced the operational costs of utilizing mobile video solutions.

New feature
Apollo Video's DVR Health Module, a recent addition to the ViM software offering, provides automatic fleet-wide health monitoring and diagnostics of on-board video equipment. Many transit agencies have reduced maintenance and operating costs as a result of automated, wireless diagnostic reports that eliminate unnecessary physical maintenance checks.

The software provides automatic email notification in the event of a camera outage on a bus and provides video clips of the event. Transit officials and law enforcement can use the video and images to determine if vandalism was the cause.

San Diego's use of the Health Module provided its maintenance department with proactive fleet health reports; the system monitors critical elements of the DVR, hard drives and cameras daily. Any faults are sent to the server with email notification and optional reports.

Sophisticated technology
San Diego and other transit agencies are finding that software and wireless solutions, such as Apollo Video's ViM DVR Health Module, are increasingly as important as the hardware components of a mobile video surveillance solution. The extreme flexibility inherent in software applications means traditional hardware pain points, such as equipment monitoring or backward compatibility can easily be overcome. As a result, software is forever transforming the way transit agencies think about fleet management, public safety, maintenance and overall operational efficiencies.  


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