Integrated safety and security in Moscow subway

Guest authors

More than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. According to UNICEF,  the number of people living in cities will rise by up to 70 percent by 2050. In big and fast-growing cities, safety and security are a challenging area. This is especially the case when it comes to critical infrastructure, such as public transport. Special attention is required in such areas because threats can cause widespread damage if not spotted and neutralized  – fast reactions are critical in effectively managing these situations. Identifying unusual behaviour or actions as early as possible can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

Keeping 8 million safe

Large cities often have a complex public transportation system that usually includes a subway. The Russian capital is an outstanding example in this field: The Metro in Moscow is not only one of the most magnificent but also one of the biggest and busiest subways in the entire world. With about 8 million passengers that are carried every day and over 200 stations, it becomes clear why the Metro is the heart of the local transportation. Considered a critical IT-infrastructure, the Metro requires the most efficient and reliable solutions to ensure the safety of passengers and staff, rolling stock operation as well as the security of property.

However is visual identification enough? When the stakes are so high, it is imperative the best technology is used to catch and eradicate an issue before it can progress.

Identifying hazardous materials with advanced technology

In order to protect safety and security in the subway, Moscow Metro decided to combine two very effective systems. Over 500 AXIS Network cameras were installed in the stations with the lobbies of the stations being equipped with multi-functional automated radiation monitoring systems. The latter is a system that was developed by the Scientific Production Center “ASPECT” with the purpose of identifying dangerous materials such as radioactive or other hazardous substances carried by passengers. It is also used to simplify and automate the security screening. In order to recognize these irregularities, the cameras are placed in areas where they can keep the passenger traffic under surveillance. Both options were chosen based on various core criteria:

  • The high quality of the live video stream
  • Digits recognition (enables a clear video footage despite a dynamic scene such as a moving crowd)
  • A stable bandwidth
  • The support of Wide Dynamic Range technology (WDR)

How it works

As soon as the system detects radiation it activates an alarm signal and the  cameras, which record and transmit the video stream to: the data acquisition, the processing unit screen and the portable automated work-stations of the operator. Not only are the cameras able to spot a suspicious person or object, they also provide live video surveillance. That means the recorded security footage includes the time period before, during and after the event – whereby the intervals “before” and “after” can differ.

Since the video is live, a stable and quick bandwidth is essential. Furthermore, the video footage needs to be in high resolution in order to make it possible for the security guards to recognise certain objects or people by their appearance or faces. Due to the WDR feature, the cameras are able to provide clear images even with variations in lighting conditions, for example in the station’s entrance areas (bright daylight outside and the dark light conditions inside). Instead of just an overexposed picture, the cameras manage to balance the various conditions and provide a clear image of both areas.

Other important features for the surveillance in the subway stations are the ability of the camera to adjust the focal length automatically as well as the possibility to remote control the digital PTZ, which simplifies the whole configuration significantly.

The future of safety

Video surveillance is the key to global security, especially in busy areas where it is even more important to take certain actions to ensure the public safety. The combination of network cameras and a radiation monitoring system gives an idea of how the surveillance and protection of public transport systems all over the world could change in the future.

Not only is this combined solution able to handle an enormous amount of data but the real-time detection can increase the security and deliver irrefutable and admissible evidence in case of an incident.

Authored by: Security manager at CJSC Scientific Production Center “ASPECT” A. M. Ratz