Real-time Security Video in Public Transport: Killer App for Wireless?

Firetide recently announced a contract with Thales Portugal to provide Mumbai Metro with real-time, mobile wireless video surveillance network. The network will be deployed to provide onboard video surveillance and broadcast of text message to passenger information display. The Mumbai Metro is a three-line, high capacity rapid transit system spanning 40 miles that is being built in Mumbai, the financial capital of India. The first phase of the metro is scheduled to be completed in 2010. Thales has been tapped by Mumbai Metro to provide the required communication systems, including a real-time video surveillance network, for which they selected Firetide’s wireless infrastructure mesh (after an extensive evaluation and field testing period).

Real-time video a trend in transit?

Mumbai Metro Wireless Surveillance Network Diagram

Mumbai Metro Wireless Surveillance Network Diagram (click to enlarge)

You may have seen our announcement on a similar system for Seoul Subway in November of 2009. So is this a trend for transit security? Transit agencies are not only deploying cameras on trains and busses, but also implementing real-time video streaming from and to moving trains, buses and shuttles.

There are interesting parallels between the two deployments. Both are for rail systems – underground subway in Seoul, and elevated rapid transit system in Mumbai. Rail systems have the necessary right-of-way for deployment of fixed infrastructure, plus in cases of Mumbai and Seoul both systems have fiber along the tracks, so engineering/cost-justifying the system is easier, as you ‘only’ need to deliver the ‘meshing’ capability between the fixed infrastructure and the mobile mesh nodes.

Both systems are driven by public safety, but the network will also support other application: text messages for passenger information displays in the case of Mumbai, and advertizing in Seoul Subway.

Asia leads in cutting-edge applications

Another interesting trend is that both such deployments are in Asia. (As an aside, Asia Pacific leads US in general in the application of wireless networking; see innovative project in Seoul for Children Safety Zone, which combines location-based tracking with real-time video to locate missing children).

But we are discussing projects with consultants specifying real-time video systems for transit agencies here in the US. Is it only a matter of time before real-time surveillance from moving vehicles will be ‘standard operating procedure’ for transit agencies?

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About the author

Ksenia Coffman is the marketing manager at Firetide, a wireless infrastructure mesh company. She is responsible for Firetide’s marketing strategy and technology solution partnerships. She writes the blog, Mesh Without Wires.