One of the largest considerations within the UK rail industry is one of efficiency – every decision made must be based on a clear ROI with actionable results. When we consider the shift from analogue surveillance to networked solutions, many operators still judge this ‘new’ technology on the basis of its closed-circuit predecessor – discounting the numerous intelligence benefits that are now on offer

[easy-tweet tweet=”Operators simply did not foresee cameras becoming such an essential tool” hashtags=”tech, cloud, security”]

The average age of rolling stock in the UK is now at a 14-year high at 20.2 years old, with these assets built shortly before the invention of the first network security camera. It stands to reason that during the creation of safety procedures and policies, operators simply did not foresee cameras becoming such an essential tool. According to a recent report into the state of public transport, 30.4 percent of organisations revealed other priorities were a barrier to upgrading their surveillance network. 20.3 percent cited difficulty in securing funding, and 17.4 percent noted no clear business case, as they had seen no significant ROI. Notably, of those highlighting ROI, approximately three-quarters still use analogue systems.

There is a clear education gap within transport when it comes to understanding the value of network video. The majority of carriages operate either through uploading security footage once it reaches a depot, or through staff manually downloading the footage once every few days. Some operators only ever download the footage if an incident has been reported, meaning numerous issues often go unnoticed. This is why footage took so long to come to light in the recent ‘Traingate’ incident involving Jeremy Corbyn and Virgin. The technology currently exists, however, to take the hard work aspect out of surveillance solutions.

Education; a significant barrier to further adoption

Instead of an incident being reported and an employee trawling through hours of footage, newer cameras have analytic functions that come into play. This means that instead of just operating at a surveillance level, these cameras can trigger alerts for any important event, such as tools left in the tracks, bridge strikes, graffiti or drunken behaviour. The issue, however, comes from educating the rail industry on the progression of these analogue solutions to networked systems which can save time and money, increasing the overall safety and security of those travelling or working within a network.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Working above a surveillance level, these cameras trigger alerts for important events” hashtags=”security, cloud, tech”]

One of the largest issues with implementing these new systems, as well as fully realising the benefits that are on offer, is one of infrastructure, with existing communications networks in the UK presenting a significant obstacle. We are some way behind some of our continental neighbours with regards to WiFi technology, broadband, 4G and other networks. With the number of signal dead zones in the UK, we must increase the connectivity across the UK’s entire network to make use of a fully realised cloud solution within rail, allowing train operators to react to real-time alerts and prevent any issues that may arise.

Increasing capabilities through technological innovation

There is a significant disconnect between the technology on offer, its availability and the benefits it can provide. Rail operators are gradually shifting towards IP systems, although these solutions are broadly a work in progress for a large number of train operators still using analogue or hybrid systems. Education is still a strong aspect in the uptake of networked security cameras. As an industry, we must do more to fully inform the rail industry of the new solutions available and but also the cross-functional benefits they provide – ranging from security to predictive maintenance and analytics.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Education is still a strong aspect in the uptake of networked security cameras.” hashtags=”cloud, tech, security”]

To fully realise the future of networked cameras within rail, we must first focus on improving the connectivity of the UK as a whole. Once this has been achieved, there is an opportunity to standardise systems and ensure transport hubs across the UK are benefitting from the latest networked technology. With a commitment from security and transportation industry professionals alike, there is a real opportunity to shift away from legacy systems, supporting a reduction in crime, an increase in operational efficiency and a better ROI.