How COTS embedded technology is putting rail operators back into the frame   

Video surveillance is widely deployed in the modern world, from monitoring busy city centers, shopping malls, offices and football stadiums, to motorways, train stations and It is used in a variety of situations in both business and consumer applications from protecting company assets and home security to crowd monitoring and traffic control. Amidst the spectre of terrorism, real-time video surveillance and analytics techniques have increasingly demonstrated their crucial role in averting further atrocities and apprehending suspects.  

We tend to take for granted that ‘big brother’ is watching over us. What if a malfunction prevents a camera or cameras from operating? Will it go unnoticed for several minutes or even hours while a surveillance operator is looking the other way at a crucial moment? Or maybe the video images aren’t as clear as they could be due to reliance on older camera equipment and are therefore unsuitable for use as evidence.


Intelligent video surveillance is here to stay…

The good news is intelligent video surveillance is here to stay and capable of enabling higher levels of automatic detection and identification of potential threats rather than leaving it to human fallibility.  The last decade or so has seen a transformation in video surveillance technology, shifting from analogue systems to combine powerful analytics for automatic real-time analysis of video streams and recorded footage with HD cameras and high volume image and data processing, all connected over high speed networks. At the same time the cost of sophisticated camera products has fallen and continues to fall dramatically, from a few thousand dollars five years ago to just a few hundred per unit today.


The increasing threat of security breaches and attacks is making securing public transit systems a high priority and video surveillance a necessity. Video surveillance can also be a highly effective cross-functional tool for improving operator efficiency and costs as well as enhancing the overall passenger experience, reducing delays or disruptions to service from unforeseen mechanical breakdowns, track obstructions or traffic congestion.

This said, when it comes to comprehensive surveillance coverage, many train operators and mass transit surveillance system developers have been reluctant to embrace the latest solutions due to the ‘rip and replace’ upheaval and costs traditionally involved.


We have perhaps, therefore, been lulled into a false sense of security when standing alone at night on a station platform or sitting in an empty carriage

While video surveillance has long been widely used in rail transportation-on trains, trackside and in stations-many operators are suffering from being locked into a legacy of aging, incompatible proprietary analogue systems, resulting in a fragmented ‘patchwork’ approach to surveillance, often due to financial reasons. Ultimately, this can compromise passenger security and safety, as well as customer experience.                

For rail operators to see the whole picture requires a more affordable way to introduce the latest Video Management Software (VMS) streaming video, camera, analytical monitoring (edge, fog and cloud) and connectivity technologies. This will deliver more comprehensive surveillance coverage, razor sharp images and remove human fallibility.


An open standards COTS IoT-ready approach allows interoperability between legacy systems and the very latest video surveillance solutions      

Responding to this challenge, Kontron has been at the forefront of the embedded computer technology industry’s efforts to introduce Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) systems which enable operators and developers the flexibility to develop, customize and implement more powerful, highly scalable video surveillance networks and bring them to market faster and at less cost. The key is to enable rail operators to get access to validated and optimized video surveillance systems running on COTS VMS software and hardware platforms providing easier integration between on-board and wayside systems.

Crucially, these are designed to leverage the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) through connecting to numerous other systems and offering control centers unprecedented real-time views and data from hundreds, even thousands, of cameras and sensors from on-board trains, wayside and stations. These data-driven solutions can identify and locate issues as they happen, even before they happen, thanks to IoT gateways that compute and transmit data to those who need it and therefore ensure faster response to actual incidents while taking preventive action to potential ones.  


Future-proofed video surveillance systems with health management for optimizing uptime and TCO

As the mass transit market rapidly adopts this new data driven, connected systems approach, Kontron’s focus on providing IoT enabled COTS platforms that deliver superior engineering quality and innovation ensures that our customers have the right technology to make this evolution possible.

As part of our ruggedized TRACe COTS transportation solution, Kontron has placed a special focus on providing application-ready platforms that eliminate the compatibility issues traditionally found with proprietary surveillance systems. Operators can often retain their investments in some of their existing infrastructure and avoid re-training staff in order to minimize disruption and the cost of upgrading.    

The TRACe V304-TR is designed to be compatible with all ONVIF-supported VMS solutions such as Genetec’s Security Center unified security platform, Adetel Solution  VMS as well as many others. It uses a proven COM Express® Computer-on-Module (COM) based on the Intel® Atom™ processor E3845. With its quad core, 1.91 GHz performance and an industrial temperature range, this powerful, low-power-consuming processor is well suited to processing IP video streams in constrained environments. In addition, the included Intel® AES New Instructions help enable fast and secure data encryption for enhanced security. To meet the need for video surveillance increased storage capacity, the Kontron TRACe V304-TR provides outstanding storage capabilities and can support from 50+ 64 IP camera HD video streams on selected VMS SW. For higher performance, COM Express® modules for edge analytics are available.


Thanks to COTS and the emergence of the IoT, seeing the whole picture is now firmly within reach of the rail industry

The TRACe NVR and all of Kontron’s TRACe transportation computing platforms integrate advanced health management tools. These perform uniform test routines which help operators permanently, continuously and independently monitor and report the health status and configuration of the video surveillance system across large networks of cameras. The health management capabilities also empower system operators to go from simply reactive to positively proactive in managing application functionality and uptime.

Quite simply, significant efficiencies and benefits from remote monitoring, fleet availability, serviceability and anticipated maintenance can now be achieved by operators that were not available previously. The result is improved overall security supported by better diagnostics and maintenance that minimize the need for system debugging.

Thanks to COTS and the emergence of the IoT, seeing the whole picture is now firmly within reach of the rail industry. Most important of all, this major advancement in video surveillance will surely bring additional peace of mind to the millions of people traveling on our railways.

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