Communication Crucial to Metro Security
Tevin Wang | Date:
Metro stations require numerous sensors to detect behavior in different areas. Processing the data from these sensors takes time and, in many cases, is done manually by operators. “Additionally, the operator then has to manually locate the video camera(s) nearest to the sensor location to verify what is going on,” said James Chong, CTO and Senior VP of Strategic Innovation, Vidsys.
Information and the speed at which it is delivered are therefore critical, as seconds can save lives. “During critical events, it is essential that operators have fast and reliable access to relevant security assets, and pertinent information from the numerous and complex security systems,” said Adlan Hussain, Marketing Manager, CNL Software. “The challenge is the response to a sudden surge in this load, caused by a critical event or disaster scenario, comprised of multiple events happening at the same time. Designing a system to make the best use of the existing systems, such as marrying the information from surveillance, detection systems and location data, can help reduce the number of false alarms, increase situational awareness and minimize the time taken to deal with incidents. This helps increase the efficiency of security operations and reduce any disruption caused to passengers and their journeys.”
Peleg seconds it. “Fast access to recorded video is very essential if something happens and images/ video footage are recorded 24/7. Through a centralized platform and efficient data coordination, operators don't need to memorize procedures by heart and can better respond by shortening the panicking time and taking appropriate actions quickly.”
Ins and Outs
Damage Control and Vulnerability
The complexity of metro environments directly affects evacuation strategies. When considering security risks and vulnerabilities of indoor and outdoor stations, it all comes down to the natures of threats. “In an indoor, confined area, threats such as explosives or fires can have significant effects. On the other hand, the threat within an outdoor station is more concerned with the relative freedom of access,” said Skip Dunnett, Threat, Vulnerability and Risk Consultant at Digital Barriers. “An outdoor station can be difficult to protect too, as the perimeter is generally easier to access. Indoor stations are easier to protect in this regard, as the egress points are limited and create excellent canalization points at which security sensors and monitoring can be operated effectively.”
Aspects of the station's profile, such as environment, passenger makeup, ease of access, ease of escape, overt security profile and prestigious value, would define the level of threat and dictate the type of attack. “Generally speaking, the safety and security requirements not only differ based on the ‘indoor' or ‘outdoor' factor, but also on the size and the bustle of the station,” said Roger Dong, Director, Product Marketing and Business Development China, Bosch Security Systems. “Noise levels, means of escape, fire prevention and fire detection all cause concerns which relate to the unique layout of and emergency response to the area. For instance, smoke detectors for metro stations with high ceilings need to be extremely sensitive.”
Rugged and More
“The performance of video analytics, especially in outdoor environments, can be impacted by numerous environmental factors, such as flying objects like bugs or litter, rain, snow and fog, which can cause false alarms” said Danny Peleg, Director of Market Development for Transportation at Genetec.
Fair or poor lighting conditions should also be put into consideration during camera setup. Ruggedized, vandal-resistant design of cameras is a must.
In these high-traffic, harsh environments, cutting-edge technology is not necessarily a must. “Usually, the most appropriate technologies can save a lot more trouble, lives and lower TCO in the long run,” said Patrick Lim, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ademco Far East (an Ademco Security Group company).
Safe and Sound
In addition to safety and surveillance measures, voice alarm systems also play an important role. For example, they are used to guide people to the stairways, or to instruct them to take their baggage with them in the event of a bomb threat, or to leave everything in the event of a fire, Dong said. “From a technical perspective, a public address system is one of the most difficult parts because in each case, the system needs to be adjusted to individual premises and acoustic conditions. Announcements or warnings need to be easily understandable despite high noise levels or reverberation. Fully digital public address and emergency sound systems are suitable for these volatile environments, as they automatically adjust to match the ambient noise levels.”
Communication systems are equally important as surveillance systems, but are often neglected, Lim warned. “Integration of all these systems to work intelligently as one helps greatly in providing accurate and life-saving information, should there be a terrorist attack or an emergency.