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Choosing the right VMS for train station projects

In the transportation sector, municipal train stations are challenging security projects. Common security issues include scuffles between passengers, vandalism, car theft, crossing over the tracks and the potential for more serious criminal acts. Train stations are publicly accessible to anyone, with many people coming and going. And if the system is managed centrally, this often means a small staff is monitoring 25 to over 100 sites. Not just any video management system (VMS) will do.

September 7, 2011  By  Rob Colman

So what is the first question an integrator should ask when deploying an IP video surveillance system in such an application? It should definitely be concerning the method of communication of the video signals — for example, whether the customer intends to use a corporate network, Internet or dedicated leased lines. Of course, the ideal situation is if the municipal transportation company already has a corporate network connected to all stations to facilitate centralized monitoring.

However, this is not always the case. Sometimes customers are required to use an outside provider and transmit video signals over the Internet. Although still feasible, this type of scenario will often impose bandwidth constraints which lead to compromises on video resolution and frame rates. Thus, suggesting a VMS that can manage multiple video streams would be crucial. One stream could be configured for local recording at the train station and a second stream could be configured at a lower bandwidth for central monitoring.

Some VMSs can also dynamically manage the video streams. For example, if the customer is remotely pulling up nine cameras (3×3 sized tiles) from one train station, the VMS will automatically use the lower bandwidth stream. However, if the customer were to double-click on a camera tile to make it full screen, the VMS will disconnect the other eight streams and dynamically switch to a higher quality video stream while the camera is being monitored in full screen mode.

Just like bandwidth efficiency is important in train station applications, so is staff efficiency. Monitoring hundreds of cameras across numerous stations at a central monitoring station is not easy for staffs of typically two to four people. Integrators can suggest a VMS with configurations to help. For example, instead of trying to display and monitor all cameras simultaneously, certain display monitors can be scheduled to show cameras based on the schedule of the train. Guards can then focus on the stations where there is the most activity and likelihood of trouble.


In non-peak hours, there probably will not be people milling around the stations, so event-based monitoring could be proposed. For example, video analytics could be run on a schedule and could be used to detect movement on the platforms in non-peak hours. At a more basic level, a lot of stations have doors to access the platforms either from shelters or tunnels. Something as simple as a door contact could be used to pop-up and bookmark images when someone comes on to the platform. This would help alert guards to people coming to vandalize, to break into automated train ticket kiosks or to cut across the tracks.

With the aid of advanced IP video management features, the technical and security challenges of municipal train projects can be met. It is just important to fully understand the VMS’s feature set and capabilities and exemplify its benefits to the end user.

Steve Bocking can be reached at sbocking@genetec.com

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