Trends in surveillance equipment and usage in public transport

Patrik Anderson

Video surveillance is a very common technology used in public transport, especially for security purposes. The international association of public transport operators, UITP, conducted a survey in 2015 among public transport organizations to get an understanding of video surveillance in public transport, particularly for security. We’ll take a look at some of the trends that have emerged in terms of current usage and equipment as well as potential barriers in using the surveillance technology in transport.

What Type of Surveillance and Security Equipment is Being Used

There is a mix of camera types in use – analogue or network/IP. Approximately two thirds of responders report that they have network/IP cameras as part of their surveillance systems today. Over half of the responders have a hybrid surveillance system with a mix of analogue cameras and network/IP cameras. Another quarter of the responders are still using solely analogue cameras. For the future, the majority of responders stated that they will consider network/IP cameras. While this clearly shows a tendency towards network cameras for the future, legacy analogue cameras will clearly still have an important presence in public transport systems for the foreseeable future.

When acquiring new surveillance systems, specifications for the system are designed using in-house personnel for 38% of respondents. On the other hand, 27% and 14% rely on cooperation with system integrators or surveillance camera manufacturers respectively. As for the barriers of investing in new technology, responders report “other priorities within their organization” (31%) and “difficulty in getting funding” (20%) as the two largest categories of obstacles.

Where, When and How Surveillance Systems Help Transit Security

Almost all responders do have surveillance cameras installed in their systems with only 3% stating that they did not. Video surveillance is certainly one of the most widespread technologies used for security in public transport. For example, one responder reported having 22,000 cameras installed.

Cameras are predominantly used onboard rolling stock, in public station areas, depots and rail yards and on platforms. They are often specifically targeted at key areas (help points, ticket gates, escalators, elevators). With the exception of depots and rail yards, the areas where customers are present which tend to be are the most heavily covered by surveillance cameras. Cameras can also be found, although to a lesser extent, in non-public areas (staff entrances, crossings, tunnel entrances, along the infrastructure, inside tunnels, at bridges, depots).

Video footage can either be recorded, viewed in real-time, or both. Real-time usage of video footage is generally used in static locations (stations, depots). Real-time surveillance on-board rolling stock is less common with 28% of responders using this. However, more than half of responders reported that video surveillance would be installed onboard rolling stock in the coming 12 months which suggests that onboard cameras will become more common. Other parts of the system (stations, depots etc.) will also see more cameras installed and only a quarter of responders do not plan any investments in video surveillance at all in the next 12 months.

Most responders reported that video surveillance is firmly a cross-functional tool, also used for safety and operational purposes on top of security. In terms of practical use, today video surveillance is considered most useful in increasing the perception of security among passengers and staff, as well as improving actual security levels by minimizing, deterring and managing criminality such as theft, graffiti, vandalism, aggression, violence and so on. Terrorism did not rate highly as a potential use for video surveillance. In terms of the life-cycle of an incident, using video footage for investigations into crime, injury, suicide, accidents and so on is considered useful. Indeed, the vast majority (86%) find this forensic element the most valuable concrete use. Detection in real-time of incidents also scored highly (72%), indicating this is a trend to come. Nearly half of responders (42%) can share live video with other parties such as police or other authorities.

Download the full report Video Surveillance in Public Transport. International Trends 2015-2016.