The latest innovations in mobile surveillance have increased clarity and allow for remote upload of videos, so supervisors have a better idea of what is happening while their bus or train drivers are en route.
“Innovations in surveillance have been going in a certain direction for many years in fixed assets,” says Richie Howard of AngelTrax. “So, obviously, the mobile side has not really caught up with it, but it is catching up at this point.”
Mobile surveillance systems should be tailored to the needs of a transit agency for maximum benefit because surveillance isn’t one-size-fits-all, says REI Sales Engineer Mike Guzallis. A system varies on the type of buses, security required, preferred views, and budget. Guzallis adds that, “REI works hand-in-hand with each agency to develop a solution tailored specifically for them.”
Increased Clarity, Wider Views
Improved picture clarity is always in high demand, and several surveillance brands have released new cameras with increased resolution and wide-angle lenses to better capture every aspect of a route.
REI recently released its HD5 series, a digital DVR that records up to 1080p on each channel. In addition, REI is set to release a 360-degree HD surround view system that utilizes 3D technology for seamless viewing of the vehicle’s surroundings.
With increased clarity, Guzallis says it is easier for transit officials to identify incidents, both on the vehicle with a passenger and around the vehicle.
The HD5’s 170-degree angle camera is one of the widest camera angles in the industry, and eliminates the need of two or three cameras, Guzallis says.
Seon’s Director of Marketing, Lori Jetha, says that advanced mobile surveillance systems can record up to 16IP camera views.
With integrated audio capabilities, it is significantly easier to identify people and objects of interest in challenging lighting.
Most systems on the market have a feature to capture certain events, either triggered via g-force or manually by the driver.
With REI’s HD5 system, events such as hard braking, speeding, or taking turns too quickly, will trigger G-force parameters and automatically flag that time section of the video recording.
The HD5 solution even features an option to customize its notifications dependent on the driver. At the start of a shift, the monitoring system will look for certain events and managers can then assemble a type of report card for each driver.
With Rosco Vision Systems’ Dual Vision camera, events that have been triggered by g-force will be saved separately from other non-event information videos. The triggered videos can’t be recorded over until a fleet manager purges the information. Even when the SD card is full, the videos will not automatically delete.
Rosco’s surveillance system also features a driver “panic button” that can be pushed to mark an important event that isn’t g-force triggered, such as a passenger slipping or a fight.
While the new technology increases accountability for drivers and passengers, it also features privacy protection measures. Seon’s line of products makes it possible to blur peoples’ faces and other objects to protect passenger and employee privacy.
With REI, any triggered events that happened while a bus is enroute will be automatically flagged and uploaded as soon as the bus returns to its terminal.
Guzallis says the video retrieval tool has been aiding agencies with liability protection and potential lawsuits.
“We found it actually lowers the amount of calls from citizens making false claims,” he says.
In the past, when a passenger made a complaint, the video footage would be manually retrieved; often, when a passenger filed a complaint, the video footage from that day was already deleted.
“Here, you can put it automatically into queue when they get that call…,” he says. “And if there was no event, they will know if it’s a false claim, ultimately reducing the number of claims and calls about activities on and around the vehicle...”
Seon takes wireless retrieval one step further. It offers agencies the ability to stream video in real-time via a secure cell connection.
While surveillance companies are working to create better products that take up less memory space, they are also looking to create more cost-effective solutions for transit providers.
“We’re trying to minimize the service and upgrading costs, as well as the long-term costs of ownership, in the transit side, by offering the new hybrid component technology that we have patents on,” says AngelTrax’s Howard.
Operators will never have to remove the DVR from the vehicle to repair it, and the new process only takes about 30 seconds to do.
“And, to upgrade it, if some new technology comes out, all we have to do is change the main board and you’ve got the new technology,” Howard says.
For transit operators, this means that not only is the cost of repair cheaper, but also the long-term cost of ownership. The new systems being distributed by AngelTrax are designed to last up to 10 years, as opposed to the usual three to five.
Seon understands that funding isn’t always available for transit agencies to upgrade their equipment every time something new comes on the market. To help, the company’s Hybrid Network Video Recorder supports both analog and IP cameras.
While mobile surveillance units have come a long way in terms of design and functionality, video surveillance companies are looking for even more ways to increase clarity, eliminate storage space, and create more cost-effective products.
REI’s soon-to-be released 360-degree HD surround view system will provide seamless viewing, making maneuvering easier for large vehicles. REI will also soon debut a 24-channel network recorder that will record in 1080p.