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HD Video Pulls Into the Calgary Light Rail Transit Station

Ensuring the safe passage of commuters has gained urgency as a focal point for transit bureaus throughout the world. Calgary’s light rail demonstrates how advanced high definition video surveillance enables agencies to better manage and secure their lines.

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<p>The solution includes a 10Gbps IP Cisco backbone network extending to 27 LRT stations, Calgary City Hall and Victoria Park Operations Control Center. Above, a CONTAVA technician configures a Cisco switch.</p>Cameras were mounted in three general configurations: standard building surface mounts using off-the-shelf Panasonic and Pelco adapters and brackets; custom-engineered and manufactured poles for “yellow line” cameras; and custom-engineered and manufactured mounts for unique camera positioning (e.g. tunnels).

“Video analytics were enabled on all cameras, but kept to basic motion functionality in order to better manage long-term storage and reduce bandwidth demands,” says CONTAVA Director of Operations David Sime. “With HD video streams peaking at nearly 7Mbps on large amounts of motion, and limited storage capacity, the system reduces bitrates during times of low or no motion.”

Omnicast was also integrated with escalators, elevators and assistance phones on the station platforms. This fulfilled the life-safety requirement that operators view live video of the scene before mechanical devices are activated.

“The integration was achieved via bi-directional R232 to IP conversion of the control protocols on the SCADA system, followed by parsing of the data stream and custom developed code to react to various events received,” adds Sime.

Two further interesting aspects of the project: the 10Gbps IP backbone included data backhaul for station messaging systems, ticket vending machines and other services; while single mode fiber was available between most of the stations across Calgary, CONTAVA supplemented it to support the network installation and 200+ cameras.

Setting Standards Straight

The nature and scope of the Calgary LRT project - which called for CONTAVA to log some 9,410 man-hours - necessitated adhering to numerous policies and ensuring compliance was met all along the way.

Following is a sampling of the requirements to which the integrator had to comply, plus some notes of explanation:

  • City of Calgary Information Technology standards (adhered to through design and consultation with the city’s IT department)
  • City of Calgary Recording Requirements
  • Canada Privacy Act (adhered to by securing network, operating system and VMS access; operator account ability to export video was disabled)
  • Transport Canada Closed Circuit Television Reference Manual for Security Applications
  • Guide to Using Surveillance Cameras in Public Areas (Alberta Government)
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  • City of Calgary LRT Design Guidelines
  • UL
  • Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
  • International Standards Organization (ISO)
  • National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)

Project Kept on Track, Time

Given that shutting down commuter rail service was not a viable option, from the end user’s vantage point the project was especially vexing. The undertaking presented Calgary LRT with some logistical obstacles that summoned creative maneuvering.

<p>Cameras were mounted in three general configurations: standard building surface mounts using off-the-shelf Panasonic and Pelco adapters and brackets; custom-engineered and manufactured poles for “yellow line” cameras; and custom-engineered and manufactured mounts for unique camera positioning (e.g. tunnels). Above, three HD dome cameras mounted on a custom-fabricated pole and installed at a train station platform.</p>“Coordinating all of the work was challenging as there were over 30 sites where conduit and wiring had to be run, cameras replaced and new cameras installed,” says Hansen. “Most of the installation work occurred while CTrain service continued to operate, which presented safety challenges. There were also some security concerns due to potential camera outages during the replacement project, but they were largely mitigated by working closely with CONTAVA staff.”

From CONTAVA’s side of the proceedings, access to install cameras and structured cable in a live transit environment was fraught with hurdles interfering with effective deployment. Enright details several measures the integrator put into action to mitigate safety risks for its employees and the public.

“At all times, CONTAVA employed both a flagman for the trains and a spotter when accessing or nearing the tracks,” he says. “Barriers and watchmen were employed to keep public access from overhead or dangerous work. And off-peak hours and after-hours deployment of our resources and subcontractors reduced delays and risks.”

Since CONTAVA did not have the luxury of dealing with new construction, issues arose regarding documentation and existing infrastructure. Some of the stations are 30 years old and as a result drawings showing locations of key items were not always available. Furthermore, some of the station infrastructure needed to be reviewed to determine if it would support the new cameras, communications and power requirements.

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Article Topics
Video Surveillance · Systems Integration · Vertical Markets · Calgary Light Rail Transit · Case Study · CONTAVA · Cover Story · Genetec · High Definition · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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Calgary Light Rail Transit, Case Study, CONTAVA, Cover Story, Genetec, High Definition, Panasonic