Seoul Subway Adds Streaming Wireless Surveillance


SEOUL, South Korea — The Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRT) will add Firetide Inc.‘s streaming wireless video surveillance technology into Seoul’s subway system using a mesh network, according to the company.

When completed in June 2010, it will be the first real-time, high-bandwidth mobile wireless video surveillance subway system in the world at a cost of an estimated $60 million.

“We have recognized for some time that there is a great opportunity for wireless infrastructure mesh networks that are capable of providing real-time communications for mobile applications in transportation to improve public safety and deliver innovating services to passengers,” said Bo Larsson, Firetide’s chief executive.

The system came about after 198 people perished in the Daegu, Korea subway fire of 2003, when the SMRT began investigating real-time wireless video surveillance systems to help protect their subway riders and transit workers against potential fires, accidents, thefts and other harmful incidents.

The SMRT selected Korea Telecom with GlobalTelecom as the subcontractor to deploy the system.

After the Daegu fire, when an arsonist set fire to a car train stopped at the Jungangho station that spread to a second train when it entered the station from the opposite direction, the SMRT wanted a system where the operators of the moving trains would have video footage of the station being entered. That way, the driver could decide not to enter the station in the case of accidents or other problems such as a person on the track.

The transit authority wanted the ability to stream video from a station’s cameras to a monitor in a train moving at speeds of 50 mph. Wireless mesh technology was the only option to transmit video to and from subway cars, as it provided seamless handoff and roaming along the fixed wireless infrastructure.

In competitive testing, Firetide successfully completed the high-speed handover in the tests conducted in the subway between May and August of 2009, according to the company. The subway environment is particularly harsh for RF communications, because of the reflective metal surfaces, noise and vibrations, and high-voltage electric power.

In addition to providing video surveillance from the station to train operators, the network will also provide video surveillance from inside of passenger trains to a monitoring center and video streaming of public announcements and commercial advertisements onto passenger train monitors.

In compliance with Korea’s regulation for subway and train radio frequency to avoid interference from other wireless equipment, Firetide’s mesh nodes are combined with an 18 GHz frequency converter provided by SeoulCommtech. A total of 1,000 Firetide mesh nodes will be deployed for four SMRT’s subway lines along with 350 cameras in the stations and 300 in the trains. The wireless infrastructure delivers 20 Mbps of capacity, enabling real-time streaming video to and from the trains moving at 50 mph.

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway, one of the most heavily used rapid transit systems in the world, is operated by four different organizations. The SMRT operates Seoul subway underground lines 5, 6, 7, and 8 with a ridership of 2,037,000 daily and involves a total of 201 subway trains at 148 stations.

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