Video Surveillance Technology: Utilizing Data to Advance Transit Safety

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Rodell Notbohm - Also by this author

Apollo Video Technology
Apollo Video Technology

Video surveillance technology is a vital component to transit and rail operations as agencies recognize the value such solutions offer. A comprehensive system does more than deliver high quality video and audio recordings. Supporting data and software tools increase the efficiency of agencies’ video management operations, substantiate liability claims and investigations, and promote safety for both passengers and operators alike.

Such capabilities have become increasingly important for agencies looking to bolster safety measures. Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a formal recommendation stating that inward- and outward-facing cameras should be installed aboard railcars to aid in accident investigations and to enhance operator performance. According to the NTSB’s recommendation letter, this technology will improve the quality of accident investigations by providing critical evidence to determine the cause of accidents in order to ultimately strengthen public safety.

Apollo Video Technology
Apollo Video Technology

But video surveillance is not just useful in accident investigations — it’s a practical first step for improving public safety and transit operations. Valuable across all forms of transportation, metadata collected from onboard systems allows agencies to analyze their information and build safety protocols and programs to proactively mitigate potential risks. An automatic download of video clips triggered by events like g-forces, train overspeed, rapid deceleration, emergency brake application, ABS and other occurrences are results of such safety enhancements. Such developments afford transit officials a wealth of information to help detect and then correct operator conduct and other safety issues before they lead to serious injuries or loss of life.

In light of the tragic Amtrak derailment outside Philadelphia earlier this year, NJ Transit, New Jersey’s public transportation corporation, took the NTSB’s recommendation to heart. The agency is in the process of proactively installing Apollo Video Technology’s video recording solutions in partnership with Railhead Corp. Inward- and outward-facing cameras will be added to its fleet of locomotives and railcar cabs. Camera systems with sophisticated management software will allow NJ Transit and other rail agencies adhering to the NTSB’s recommendation to use the technology to automatically identify high-risk operator actions, supplying transit officials with a random selection of video clips and those identified as hazardous.

Apollo Video Technology
Apollo Video Technology

Video evidence captured from onboard cameras, along with analytical information, offers agencies and investigators deeper insight into operations and safety warnings. And, added features such as live video streaming allow transit officials to view actual events in real-time. At a lower cost and faster implementation than other safety initiatives, many organizations are combining their robust video surveillance solutions with other safety applications such as positive train control to construct a powerful hybrid solution. This fulfills a key tenet of agencies across the country: to protect passengers and crews onboard vehicles.

Beyond safety, video evidence has also proven useful in lawsuits and liability claims as the discovery process following an incident can be challenging, often requiring extensive resources. Video surveillance systems have the ability to quickly and efficiently locate pertinent video footage and other evidence requested by law enforcement. This means that scanning hours of footage does not fall to agency staff, saving valuable time and resources. And, video footage can also help first responders and investigators substantiate claims and resolve lawsuits between agencies and the public.

Apollo Video Technology
Apollo Video Technology

The addition of inward facing cameras on public transit vehicles of all types is a huge benefit to every stakeholder in the transportation industry: operators, managers, passengers and bystanders alike. Video surveillance technology does more than just monitor transit activity for safety awareness. Data collected from mobile video surveillance solutions offers agencies the tools to ultimately strengthen safety and security. Any technology that can mitigate risk and liability by way of identifying safety issues before they lead to injuries or loss of life should be a high priority for all agencies nationwide.

Rodell Notbohm is the CEO of Apollo Video Technology





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