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.

<p>To maximize public welfare and limit liability, Calgary Transit required end-to-end video surveillance to enable control center personnel to visually verify safe operations of the LRT platforms 24/7. The solution needed to provide full HD coverage of all public spaces to ensure subjects could be easily identified and support the offenders’ conviction process. Above, the Operations Centre’s 33-foot X 4-foot video wall.</p>The need to actively stream and decode in excess of 100 HD camera video streams at any given moment served up yet more daunting technology challenges. As Sime describes, while using a multicast configuration was key to economize network infrastructure, it introduced some unexpected phenomena.

“The problem was dubbed the ‘predator effect,’” he says. “After deep analysis of the data traffic, our network specialist was able to identify a problem with how the software and network interacted, and thus deployed an alternate network configuration to compensate.”

Sime adds that decoding HD H.264 video streams on a PC was highly CPU and graphics intensive. “The requirement to decode upwards of 14 streams on a given PC was achieved by massive upgrades to the PC’s CPU and GPU [graphics processing unit], followed by significant tuning.”

Better Security Down the Line

Calgary Transit has been extremely pleased with the final result of the project and its coordinated efforts with CONTAVA. LRT personnel, the Calgary Police Service and visitors alike have praised the solutions’ image clarity and ease of use.

As Hansen elaborates, those qualities have reaped dividends for the agency by allowing successful intervention across a multitude of circumstances.

“There have been a number of incidents that the new system has been helpful in identifying the potential individuals involved. JPEG images of potential suspects can be taken from the system and emailed to field personnel to assist in apprehension.

“Individuals involved in one incident were identified within an hour based on the images produced by the new system,” he says. “Staff are able to use it to identify unattended packages such as suitcases or backpacks, as well as individuals sleeping in stations. In addition, the system has been used for vandalism and graffiti identification, and staff can disrupt activities by making a PA announcement. The system has led to faster response times.”

Looking at the integrator’s relationship with Calgary LRT moving forward, CONTAVA will be involved in a station refurbishment program and upgrading CTrain platforms to accommodate four-car trains. Work also awaits the firm to integrate the surveillance system into a new transit leg under development known as the West LRT Project.

“We are very satisfied with the work of CONTAVA, and have engaged them to provide ongoing maintenance and support for the CCTV system,” says Hansen, who hopes to realize even more benefits from the solution as time goes on. “We hope to be able to push camera images out to field devices issued to our peace officers to assist them in doing their work.”

Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 12 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.


About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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