The San Francisco Municipal Railway has security cameras running on all vehicles and at all train stations. But they figured that simple security cameras are not enough. That is why they want “smart” cameras installed in Muni portals by this time next year, that is what spokesman Paul Rose told the Appeal.
The smart thing about these security cameras will be that they use video behavorial analytics software. The software uses algorithms and machine learning techniques to figure out what a “normal” situation is. So the first thing the cameras will do is observe the portals and rail platforms for weeks at a time to establish what is normal. Than the cameras will be able to analyse “trends” in the stations and they will recognize when someone or something is where it shouldn’t be. This goes from vehicles or persons on the rails to abandoned packages or abnormal numbers, speed or direction of passengers.
When a camera spots abnormal behaviour, it will trigger an alarm and the cameras will for example be able to shut down a train. The alerts will also be immediatly shared with the Muni central control and with station agents, who can then decide to check out the situation and how to proceed.
Cameras at the portals should be live by the end of this year and the underground stations should have smart cameras by the end of 2013. There are no plans yet to install the same smart cameras on transit agency’s fleet of buses and trains, Rose said.
Muni used state and federal grants to pay for the high-tech security systems. They paid $1.6 million for 400 cameras and $2 million for a five-year contract to Houston-based BRS labs for the software to run on the cameras. BRS Labs has sold similar software to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for use at the World Trade Center.
The main goal of Muni for achieving this cutting-edge camera equipment is so the passengers can ride in peace.