Rail Security Essential to Modern-Day Transportation Systems

Next Generation Communications Blog

Rail Security Essential to Modern-Day Transportation Systems

By Erin Harrison

“Your surveillance network should dictate your power and equipment requirements, not the other way around. Often operators tell me they want 50 cameras. I ask them what they think every one of those cameras should be doing. It’s very easy to over-engineer systems and overwhelm your ICT network with unnecessary data.”

In addressing network operators in a recent article in Alcatel-Lucent’s Tracktalk, Making the case for Enhanced Rail Security Systems, the above expert advice was provided by Dave Gorshkov, CEO of Digital Grape Business Services.  

“Security is essential to the modern railway, protecting passengers, staff the operator’s assets from diverse range of risks including terrorism, crime, trespass, and vandalism,” he continued, noting that few security systems are installed without the support of a robust business case.

Gorshkov’s comments underscore the need to consider the functional requirements for optimizing a video surveillance system from the beginning of such a project. In addition, the capability of supporting ICT infrastructure needs to be scaled to the data volume.

Since 2006, the U.S. government has awarded more than $1.6 billion in Transportation Security Grants (TSAs). Most of this funding is directed to large metropolitan areas where the safety risks are judged to be greatest, with high-impact projects that guard against terrorism given priority.

Before initiating such a large-scale project, operators first need to create a systems requirements specification (SRS) that outlines the safety, operational, and security features of the proposed installation, which will help to ensure that camera compression and memory systems are designed to meet the operators’ specific operational needs.

Camera design and system architecture need to be considered carefully as part of the overall design process as do data storage and transmission capacity, Gorshkov added. Among the key questions that should be asked during the planning phase are:

  1. Why are we installing the system?
  2. What is its main use?
  3. Where do we need to install cameras and why?
  4. What are the images supposed to achieve?
  5. What recording system and back up facility do we need?

The ability to upgrade in future is an important consideration if the system is expected to have a long service life, Gorshkov added. Future considerations are critical in the early planning stages. Ten years ago networks operated with 5-10mbps transmission based on a handful of cameras. Today there are installations with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of IP-based cameras that require hundreds of megabytes or gigabytes of capacity. In another 10 years, network needs will change yet again.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Critical WAN Infrastructure solution offers a route to this new infrastructure, avoiding disruption while laying the ground for migration to an all-IP network and allowing public transportation systems the ability to provide comprehensive security solutions in a cost-effective manner.

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