As anyone who has ever flown on a commercial airline since 2001 knows, security measures at airports are well enforced and the emphasis on traveller safety is all around the airport and its grounds.

Mass transportation, meanwhile, presents a special but not any less significant challenge when it comes to determining security issues. These facilities need to develop the means to protect a constantly changing and large population of passengers. And unlike airports these facilities often have hundreds of points of entry and exit on multiple modes—buses, subways, light rail, commuter trains, even ferries.

About 2 million Americans will use the nation’s airways on a given work day, while 35 million people will board some form of public transportation. In fact, statistics have shown that nearly 11 billion trips are taken on public transportation every year. In some large metropolitan areas in North America where mass transit is well established, more than 20 percent of the area’s inhabitants get around via public transportation.About 2 million Americans will use the nation’s airways on a given work day, while 35 million people will board some form of public transportation

Solving mass transit security

For transportation officials and their security providers, solving the mass transit security issue begins with determining the key concerns and then creating the proper responses via security systems, policies and procedures to mitigate the risks.

Although vandalism and graffiti are very visible signs of criminal behaviour in mass transit settings such as bus stops and subway stations, this is not where transportation officials typically focus their energy. Fences and gates can secure out-of-service buses and train cars, as can remote surveillance methods to keep such vandalism at a minimum.

Instead, it is the day-to-day safety and security of transit riders and employees that should become the highest priority. This begins with creating the safest environment possible that is highlighted with appropriate signage and, when necessary, audible warnings, and supporting that with technology, such as surveillance cameras, that will document what has happened if an incident occurs.Analytics can also be useful in alerting security about other suspicious behaviours at a transit stop, such as an untended bag or package

Crime prevention in transportation

Analytics can also be useful in alerting security about other suspicious behaviours at a transit stop, such as an untended bag or package Incidents of concern within a transit setting can take several forms, ranging from legitimate accidents or crimes to false claims such as faked fall down the stairs to potential and actual suicides. Bus and subway stations also have become magnets for homeless people who may put themselves and others in harm’s way by trying to access less secure public areas within a station as temporary shelters.

If someone is injured on a subway platform and the transit provider is held liable, it could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Suicides are a major concern for operators, with personnel now being trained to look for individuals who seem distressed, are loitering in the area or are intentionally putting themselves in a dangerous situation, such as standing too close to the edge of a platform.

The deployment of video analytics, which can be programmed to send alerts when certain pre-set actions occur, can help determine when such dangerous behaviours come into play. Analytics can also be useful in alerting security about other suspicious behaviours at a transit stop, such as an untended bag or package or a person going into a restricted area.

Whether it is on the bus, train or ferry or at the stops themselves, cameras and intuitive video management systems are the key to both active and forensic transit security.

 typical 30-foot bus often has six cameras—one each at the front and middle doors, two more within the bus and then one looking forward and another looking behind the bus
Some cities use buses that are up to 60 feet long and those can be equipped with up to a dozen cameras

Train security and safety

By using the proper cameras and recording systems in a transit environment, quick-acting personnel can locate a person of interest who boarded a train at one station, follow him during his trip and produce a crisp, clear identifiable image at the end. Those setting up the system thus should keep in mind proper camera positioning, resolution and motion-based changes to framerates or other compression settings.

A typical 30-foot bus often has six cameras—one each at the front and middle doors, two more within the bus and then one looking forward and another looking behind the bus. The latter two are important in the event of accidents to verify liability. Some cities use buses that are up to 60 feet long and those can be equipped with up to a dozen cameras.Train stations often deploy high-definition cameras to better support facial recognition software to get that actionable image

Train cars are similarly equipped with two to four cameras to view activity down the centre aisle. Within the stations themselves, there can be from 15 to 30 or more cameras capturing wide-angle shots. Train stations, which have a restricted point of egress, often deploy high-definition cameras to better support facial recognition software to get that actionable image.

Installing the right technology for the solution

Although bandwidth and storage can be a concern, with motion-based recording, the resolution can be bumped up during event, resulting in a 1-megapixel stream jumping to 4 or even 8mbps when needed. By changing the resolution on demand, end users can cut their storage needs significantly.

Transportation settings often rely on the same technology used in other security installations, primarily mini dome cameras, although there are some mini transit domes built specifically for the environment with the proper aesthetics. Because of vandalism threats, transit typically avoids pendant mounts, which can be more easily grabbed and damaged. Temperature ratings for cameras also come into play in cold climates with cameras often getting outdoor exposure.Today’s new buses and trains are constructed with the cameras onboard and newer stations also take security into consideration at the earliest design stage

As trains and buses move along their routes, especially those that service outlying areas, Internet connectivity becomes an issue as well. Because it may be difficult for video to be sent in transit, security bus barns are equipped with Wi-Fi so video from onboard cameras can be downloaded at the end of the day. And the use of hardened recorders at the stations allows security personnel to retrieve recorded video.

Transit security with modern technology

Today’s new buses and trains are constructed with the cameras onboard and newer stations also take security into consideration at the earliest design stage. Older infrastructure from long-standing subway and bus terminals can prove to be a challenge when adding security, but these issues aren’t insurmountable.

Often the solution is to add more cameras to cover the same square footage because of less-than-ideal sight lines and to place conduit wherever it works best, which may mean positioning it under platforms or in other out-of-the-way places within older stations.

Looking ahead, transit security will continue to evolve, not only as new stations and modes of transportation are added to the system, but in terms of communicating with commuters. People can expect to get mass notification alerts on their mobile devices, and those same devices can provide vital data to transportation entities to better develop their overall systems.

Download PDF version

Author profile

J. Matthew Ladd President & COO, The Protection Bureau

J. Matthew Ladd is a member of Security-Net, a network of independent security systems integrators providing global support to customers.

In case you missed it

Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home
Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home

Market dynamics are changing the U.S. residential security market, creating new business models that better appeal to the approximately 70% of households without a security system. Smart home adjacencies have helped revitalise the traditional security industry, and alternative approaches to systems and monitoring for the security industry are emerging, including a new batch of DIY systems. Growth in the residential security market and its position as the channel for smart home solutions have attracted numerous new entrants. Telecoms, cable operators, and CE (consumer electronics) manufacturers are joining traditional security players as they compete to fulfill consumer demand for safety and security. Connected products also provide a layer of competition as consumers must decide whether having category devices such as doorbell video cameras, networked cameras, and other products suffice for their security. Increasingly competitive landscape Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry For instance, IP cameras are a highly popular smart home device rooted in security, and Parks Associates estimates 7.7 million standalone and all-in-one networked/IP cameras will be sold in the U.S. in 2018, with $889M in revenues. Product owners may feel their security needs are fulfilled with this single purchase, as such dealers and service providers are under increasing pressure to communicate their value proposition to consumers. Categorically, each type of player is facing competition uniquely—national, regional, and local dealers all have a different strategy for overcoming the increasingly competitive landscape. Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry. In Parks Associates’ 2017 survey of U.S. security dealers, 58% report that smart home service capabilities enable extra monthly revenue. Almost half of dealers also note they have to offer smart home devices and services in order to keep up with their competition. While white-label devices are acceptable in some instances, dealers need to integrate with hero products whenever possible when those exist for a category. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services are all potential benefits and good for business Improved customer engagement That 2017 survey also revealed 36% of security dealers that offer interactive services report security system sales with a networked camera and 16% report sales with a smart thermostat. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services, enhanced system utility, increased daily value, and improved customer engagement with the system are all potential benefits and good for business. Security has served as the most productive channel for smart home solutions, mainly because the products create natural extensions of a security system’s functions and benefits, but as smart home devices, subsystems, and controllers expand their functionality, availability, and DIY capabilities, many standalone devices constitute competition to classical security. Particularly viable substitute devices include IP cameras, smart door locks, smart garage doors, or a combination of these devices. Products that are self-installed offer both convenience and cost savings, and these drivers are significant among DIY consumers—among the 6% of broadband households that installed a security system themselves, 39% did it to save money. Enhance traditional security Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security While many security dealers believe substitute offerings are a threat, some dealers do not find such devices an existential threat but instead view them as another path to consumer awareness. They argue that the difference between smart product substitutes and traditional security is that of a solution that provides knowledge versus a system that gives one the ability to act on that knowledge. A common theme among professional monitoring providers is that a homeowner who is aware of events happening in the home does not necessarily have a secure and protected household. For example, a Nest camera, a DIY product, notifies a consumer via smartphone about events in the home when it detects motion, but only when the notification is opened and identified will a consumer be able to act on the related event. Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security but are unwilling to adopt professional monitoring; however, providers can leverage these devices to enhance traditional security features and communicate the value of professional monitoring. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth Increased market growth A key counterstrategy for security dealers and companies is to leverage their current, powerful role as the prime channel for smart home devices. Many security dealers now include smart home devices with their security systems to complement their offerings and increase system engagement. For example, as of Q4 2017, nearly 70% of U.S. broadband households that were very likely to purchase a security system in the next 12 months reported that they want a camera to be included as part of their security system purchase. In response, many security system providers now offer IP cameras as optional enhancements for their systems. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth. Security dealers have an opportunity to become more than a security provider but a smart home solutions provider rooted in safety. Provide status updates Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services The alternative is to position as a provider of basic security with low price as the key differentiator. Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services independent of security. It has discovered that monetising smart home value propositions through recurring revenue becomes increasingly challenging as the value extends further away from life safety. Since the security industry remains the main channel for smart home services, security dealers are in a unique position to leverage that strength. Value propositions must shift from the traditional arming and disarming of a system to peace-of-mind experiences that builds off the benefits of smart devices in the home to provide status updates (e.g., if the kids arrived home safely) and monitoring at will (e.g., checking home status at any time to see a pet or monitor a package delivery). These types of clear value propositions and compelling use cases, which resonate with consumer and motivate them to expand beyond standalone products, will help expand the home security market.

What is the value of "free" video management systems?
What is the value of "free" video management systems?

They say that every choice has a cost. It's a basic principle that, economically speaking, nothing is free. If it doesn't cost actual money, it may be expensive in terms of time, attention and/or effort. These are interesting observations to keep in mind as one peruses the various "free" video management system (VMS) offerings available on the market. Some are provided by camera companies to unify their products into a "system", even if it's a small one. Other free VMS offerings are entry-level versions offered by software companies with the intent of the customer upgrading later to a paid version. For more insights, we asked this week's Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the value of “free” video management systems (VMSs) and how can a customer decide whether “free” is the right price for them?

Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participates in government procurement panel discussion
Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participates in government procurement panel discussion

Last week, the Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participated in reviewing the 2018 contracting year with the GSA Schedule 84 leadership team. Our panel group consists of experienced contractors and consultants meeting for a monthly conference call. Schedule 84 is the GSA Schedules Contract for Total Solutions for Law Enforcement, Security, Facilities Management, Fire and Rescue. Our opinions are part of a research programme to provide valuable feedback to the GSA Schedule 84 programme and on to the GSA central office. The director of GSA Region 7 Schedules Program, the Schedule 84 Branch Chief and the Category Manager Subject Matter Expert who manages our suppliers' panel gave us their full attention as we discussed the successes of the programme, hot topics, problems and the future. We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort and renewed enthusiasm Innovative review team We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort, renewed enthusiasm and productive changes building upon the successes of 2017. There was high praise for the accessibility to the Schedule 84 staff. Their consistent quick response to questions and concerns, thinking outside the box and supporting the programme by partnering with their contractors was much appreciated. There has been a renewed spirit of partnering to cooperatively bring the best to agency customers. It seems to be working as per the Centre Director sales are growing for GSA Schedule 84. Advocating for the security industry In my experience, business development starts with the Administrator from Region 7 in Ft. Worth, TX. As the annual Schedule 84 Industry Day at the SSAC begins he is shaking every hand and passing out his cards looking folks right in the eye asking, “how can I help you?” They have the best practices and most organised paperwork. The SSAC director has chosen well in her staff and is hands-on in every endeavour to direct things along when challenges occur or to improve the programme. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry It continues with the centre’s CASE Manager encouraging the contractors at events, visiting agency customers and promoting the GSA Schedules Program by helping coordinate the partnering. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry for adding new technology, meeting with industry associations, understanding the complexity and challenges of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD12) and advocating for the purchasing Physical Access Control Systems (PACS) utilising the appropriate standards and the GSA Program among other innovations. As far as the supplier panel, we gave our GSA Schedule 84 team and leaders high praise for 2018. GSA also added new categories or SINs for clearly identifying Physical Access Control Products that appear on GSA’s Approved Product List according to the standards created under FIPS201 Changes in the GSA programme Some changes this year in certain GSA programmes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) developed to assist with solution procurements. This new SIN was added to Schedules 03FAC, 56, 70, 71, 00Corp, 738X and 84. Under Schedule 84 it is SIN 84-500. GSA Schedule 84 consolidated many Special Items Numbers (SINs) to make finding products and services less complex Essentially this SIN allows agencies procuring under the aforementioned GSA Schedules’ programmes to purchase and the contractor to add items and services not known prior to the task as a Contract Line Item Number (CLIN) not to exceed 33% of the order. For more information and FAQs on OLMs go to www.gsa.gov/olm. This is not to take the place of “Open Market” items for adding products only that are not listed on a company’s GSA Contract. Physical access control products Previously, GSA Schedule 84 consolidated many Special Items Numbers (SINs) to make finding products and services less complex for the agencies. GSA also added new categories or SINs for clearly identifying Physical Access Control Products that appear on GSA’s Approved Product List according to the standards created under FIPS201. These products appear under SIN 246 35-7 after being tested and approved by GSA. To be qualified to install these products under the GSA Program at least one individual from the GSA Contractor company must complete the class and be CSEIP certified before applying for labour SIN 246 60-5. Additionally, the company must demonstrate certain qualifications and have past performance for this type of work. The Security Technology Alliance offers the training class and certification. Certified individuals and approved products are listed at www.idmanagement.gov. Companies listed with SIN 246-35 7 and SIN 246-60 5 may be found by searching at www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov. Updates to guidance for procurement Updates to guidance for procurement of PACS will continue to be posted to the GSA PACS Ordering Guide Updates to guidance for procurement of PACS will continue to be posted to the GSA PACS Ordering Guide. The ordering guide posted at www.gsa.gov/firesecurity is a valuable support tool created to assist agencies with understanding the requirements of FIPS201 and procuring a PACS. The guide includes relevant regulations, FAQs, sample systems designs, sample statements of work, a list of key points of contract for additional help and questions. In partnership with GSA and guided by the GSA Ombudsman group, the Security Industry Association and the Security Technology Alliance members and their contractor companies participated in a GSA Reverse Industry PACS Training Day on September 17, 2018. We presented from an industry perspective important fact on PACS system requirements, procurement planning, providing information on resources and further educating with panel discussions, individual presentations and amusing skits to over 300 Government agency staff and acquisition specialists. You can find some of the unedited recording of the PACS Reverse Industry Day Training on YouTube. Some changes this year in certain GSA programmes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) developed to assist with solution procurements GSA Schedules Program A hot topic about the GSA programme for 2018 was also an issue for the prior year. The GSA Schedules Program is a streamlined contracting vehicle incorporating specific Federal Acquisition Regulations for more efficiently purchasing commercial items. Companies may apply per a continuous open season for a 5-year contract with three 5-year options to renew. Contractors are vetted for past performance, corporate experience and financial capability. Products and services are considered for offering to Federal, State and Local customers (for Schedule 84) with pricing that is determined to be fair and reasonable through negotiations with GSA. To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor as well as the competition of identical or similar item pricing. The most vocal complaint of concern from the contractors was regarding the consideration of competitor contractors offering identical items with out-of-date pricing or holding a Letter of Supply not authorised by the manufacturer. GSA pricing tool Since the GSA utilises a pricing tool to determine if the pricing offered is competitive, a rogue competitor can cause a pricing action to possibly be rejected due to out of date information even as the manufacturer offers an update of the product. This is an issue on all GSA Contracts that the supplier panel hopes will be reconsidered by GSA policymakers at the central office. Most of us believe the Letters of Supply should only be issued by the manufacturer or with documented specific permission of the manufacturer to a reseller. Manufacturers may want to have a better understanding of the Letter of Supply, how it is considered by GSA and more carefully choose their Government partners for experience and compliance. Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy. GSA eBuy is an online Request for Quotation (RFQ) program that is for GSA Contract holders only Overcoming challenges for the security community Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy. GSA eBuy is an online Request for Quotation (RFQ) programme that is for GSA Contract holders only. Agencies will post their requirements by Special Item Number for at a minimum 48 hours. Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract. GSA Participating Dealers may take orders on behalf of a manufacturer if they are authorised under the manufacturer’s GSA Contract. They may also have an online PO Portal to receive orders. But they have no access to GSA eBuy to response to RFQs. Usually, under these arrangements, the manufacturers do not respond directly, so there is a problem using GSA eBuy for opportunities as their GSA Participating Dealers have no access to respond. GSA Schedule 84 leadership In some instances, a contracting officer may allow an emailed quotation. However, with the use of the electronic ordering system, this has become a common problem we hope to bring to the attention of policymakers. Some changes to the programmes may make the presentation of documentation more effective going forwardThe GSA Schedule 84 leadership has been helpful to explain the challenges to the agencies to try and resolve such issues. So, what’s up for 2019? GSA modernisation is coming. There will be improvements to their tools and more consolidations of SINs and more. There have been discussions of a revival of the GSA Expo. The Expo offered training for contracting staff both Government and private industry. Valuable tools for vendor training Equally important is the networking, meetings and the exhibits of the contractors. Expos have been discontinued since 2012 but smaller events have been growing as well as online webinar training. Webinars are valuable tools for GSA and vendor training, but they do not take the place of being able to meet your customers face-to-face. GSA online eOffer and eMod programme have made processing actions more efficient. Some changes to the programmes may make the presentation of documentation more effective going forward. The GSA online website for viewing the items on the GSA Contract and for purchasing items, GSA Advantage could definitely use an update as it has been basically the same for 20 years. Keep an eye on GSA Interact for the latest happenings with GSA.