Technology systems

Milestone Highlights Ways to Sustain Rail Technology Systems

Profound changes have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this is where the opportunity lies. As Steve Jobs once said, “innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” For the rail industry, the changes on the horizon must be embraced as a way to make services more efficient and protect passengers and workers.

Rail remains one of the safest modes of transport. However, there are still risks that need to be mitigated. For example, 2020 was the worst summer in five years for trespassers. As people came out of the lockdown, cases of trespassing increased.

Intelligent video analysis

In particular, people entering the runways to take pictures have been recognized as a growing problem. As the country recovers from the pandemic and people return to work from offices and other locations, the pressures on the rail network will only increase.

This offers railroad leaders unprecedented opportunities to ensure passenger safety.

At the same time, emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities are becoming more and more mainstream. This offers rail leaders unprecedented opportunities to ensure passenger safety, reduce trespassing, monitor their rail networks in more detail, and find new areas for service and cost optimization. Combining camera and audio feeds, and sensor data, with intelligent video analytics, will enable organizations to respond quickly to emergencies and situations requiring immediate response.

Thermal cameras

Thermal imaging cameras can monitor a fire in a station, for example, or a possible intrusion into a dangerous or restricted area. For stations that are often left unmanned, this monitoring from a central control room can prove invaluable in responding quickly and reducing possible consequences.

At a daily operational level, camera feeds superimposed on occupancy meters could measure the number of people in a hall or traveling on a train.

Occupancy meters implemented in football stadiums help social distancing efforts

This could be used to inform station staffing levels and schedules, especially when people are returning to work and passenger numbers fluctuate. Likewise, it could be used to support social distancing measures, as long as they remain in place. Occupancy meters installed in football stadiums aid social distancing efforts and help event planners understand the optimal number of seats in a given space.

Railway operations teams

Similar applications can be found for railway operations crews looking to optimize seats on a train while respecting public health measures. For better accessibility, for example for wheelchair users, a video system could capture when a passenger needs more assistance at destination and alert station staff in advance to ensure the establishment of a ramp and be available to guide the passenger on arrival.

The images from the cameras can also detect crowd formation, similar to the systems already used at large events and in city centers. When crowd training is not allowed (for social distancing or other security reasons), on-site staff can be alerted quickly to disperse a crowd. If a bottleneck occurs that will delay the journey of people through a station, integrations with digital signage can quickly communicate alternate routes in the lobby.

Transport policing systems

Every station, train and franchise would benefit significantly from ‘back to basics’ upgrades

Audio sensors on a platform could also detect aggressive or unusual behavior requiring local security or police intervention. This improves the safety of station staff and passengers, especially in quieter stations. Video and audio streams can also be integrated with local police or transportation systems for proactive response and to collect evidence if criminal prosecution is initiated. This can act as a deterrent against anti-social behavior, pick-pocketing, vandalism and other crimes.

Obviously, there are many use cases for video analysis, camera and audio feeds, and sensor data on the rail network. However, inheritance hinders the progress of many organizations. Every station, train and franchise would benefit significantly from “back to basics” upgrades that sustain their systems and take advantage of today’s technologies.

Open video solution

Investing in an open video solution will overcome some of the practical hurdles in implementing video analytics, surveillance solutions, IoT technology, and other emerging tools. Bandwidth and connectivity issues, for example, can be addressed by limiting the amount of bandwidth used by on-premises devices and, instead, distributed to a control room via the cloud.

Investing in an open video solution will overcome some of the practical hurdles

Likewise, different franchises and stations have different devices installed and different requirements. An open system provides the flexibility and scalability to integrate with existing video and sensor devices, as well as to adapt to different needs.

Long disturbance time

Having an open system that works across the majority of the rail network, integrating into every device, offers a level of standardization that can improve safety and efficiency across the industry. As the UK emerges from a period of significant disruption, rail leaders have an opportunity to challenge the status quo and strengthen the rail network.

By investing in forward-looking solutions such as IoT, video analytics and open platforms, the industry can better meet the needs of today’s passengers while preparing stations and trains for the passengers of tomorrow. .