Security is only one part of the story for video in transportation

A week or so ago, I was lucky enough to attend the UITP Global Public Transport Summit in the beautiful city of Montréal. The focus of this year’s summit was every aspect of the future of urban mobility, from autonomous vehicles to renewable energy; from the use of big data to transforming the business model of public transportation. It’s always a thought-provoking and inspiring event.

As you would expect, I had a keen interest in any perspective on the use of video in public transportation, and in relation to that, the event led me to be both optimistic and yet also a little frustrated. Optimistic, because effective video surveillance is clearly recognised as an absolute fundamental in the delivery of any modern urban transportation infrastructure. But also frustrated, as the primary focus for video in transportation remains security, and more often as a tool to be used after the fact.

While safety and security are absolutely critical in the operation of a public transportation system, to view video solely in relation to security is to miss a huge opportunity. In doing so operators will derive only a small potential of the overall benefits that video can deliver. This one dimensional tone of video surveillance as being related solely to security was evident in the “Video Surveillance in Public Transport and International Trends 2015-2016” study (read the report’s full findings).

As a result, UITP will consider expanding the scope of the follow-up survey to go beyond being heavily security-oriented, and will look to gather feedback from other functional areas of the Transit Agency such as Operations, Maintenance, Risk Management, etc. with regard to how video can deliver benefits to other parts of the organisation.

Video as a platform for growth in transportation

With the latest cameras being more powerful than we might have imagined when we created the first network camera in 1996 – effectively now having become a ‘computer with a lens’ – they represent a platform upon which intelligence and insight about numerous operational aspects of transportation can be distilled.

Finally, one of my other key takeaways from the UITP summit was the increased scrutiny that public finances are coming under. When every part of the expenditure on public transportation is being examined in such detail, it’s essential that maximum value is being gained from all investments in technology. Video can be a true platform for growth that will enable more uses beyond the traditional focus on security, if its full breadth of applications is used.

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