Rail

Wireless CCTV feed improves engineer's view

Posted on May 11, 2007 by Kelly Roher, Editorial Assistant

In February, Nomad Digital, a U.K.-based company specializing in mobility networks, partnered with Oakland, Calif.-based rail service provider Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) to test new streaming video technology that may help train engineers prevent railway accidents, as well as improve passengers’ commutes.

During the test, a closed-circuit TV (CCTV) feed was streamed using a fixed-wireless technology network (WiMAX) as the backhaul from a camera located near a train station in San Carlos, Calif., to a central management station. This enabled the engineer to view a video of the grade crossing and, according to CCJPA Principal Planner Jim Allison, “this would allow the engineer to see [whether] a car or equipment was stuck on the tracks and then they could do the braking accordingly.”

In order to assess the technology, Allison said CCJPA “set up very high thresholds in terms of bandwidth and applications to be tested.” Nomad Digital’s technology had to meet these thresholds during its trial run. Allison reports that it more than met CCJPA’s standards. The success of Nomad’s technology is encouraging for several reasons, he said.

The safety and security benefits of the communication system are substantial. Installing it on trains would, as Allison indicated, help prevent accidents.

From an operational standpoint, Allison states that CCTV would be an asset to engineers because it would allow them to notify mechanics of any technical difficulties they may be experiencing. The engineer would simply transfer the camera inside the train to its affected area “and then the mechanical forces back at operations [could] look and see what’s going on.” This technological innovation would also increase the transit system’s efficiency by providing diagnostic data, food sales and other inventory to transit authorities.

It would benefit commuters as well. With wireless DSL available on-board, Allison notes that passengers would be able to access the Internet. The transit system would also be able to accommodate more passengers through the acquisition of real-time ticketing.

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