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CCTV: Factors to consider before installing or upgrading

Posted: 25 February 2011 | Thomas Kritzer, Deputy Head of the Metro Operations Department, Wiener Linien and Vice-Chairman of the UITP Security Commission, and Lindsey Barr, Manager, UITP Security Commission | No comments yet

Such is the title of a new UITP brochure which focuses on the experiences and challenges of Video Surveillance Systems, commonly known as ‘CCTV1’, as a security tool in public transport.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. Covering all modes of public transport, it acts as a platform for worldwide co-operation, business development and the sharing of know-how between its 3,400 members from 92 countries.

Such is the title of a new UITP brochure which focuses on the experiences and challenges of Video Surveillance Systems, commonly known as ‘CCTV1’, as a security tool in public transport.The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. Covering all modes of public transport, it acts as a platform for worldwide co-operation, business development and the sharing of know-how between its 3,400 members from 92 countries.

Such is the title of a new UITP brochure which focuses on the experiences and challenges of Video Surveillance Systems, commonly known as ‘CCTV1’, as a security tool in public transport.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. Covering all modes of public transport, it acts as a platform for worldwide co-operation, business development and the sharing of know-how between its 3,400 members from 92 countries.

Security is an important topic for UITP. So much so that in 2004, it set up the UITP Security Commission, made up of security practitioners from public transport operators and authorities. Indeed, in the UITP Strategy Public Transport: the smart green solution2, security is mentioned as a vital element: public transport is a key part of the solution for greener, cleaner and more prosperous cities. To make public transport the mode of choice for citizens, the system has to be reliable, comfortable and attractive. A competitive travel time, convenience and affordability are often the first tangible requirements. But this is not all modern public transport users expect, and not enough to encourage them out of their private cars: a good level of customer service is increasingly important, covering elements such as cleanliness, helpfulness of staff, real-time information and so on. On top of this, feeling safe and secure is an important expectation.

UITP is very active in the area of public transport security, and has dedicated a session of the 59th UITP World Congress to the topic, which takes place on 10-14 April 2011 in Dubai3. The session, entitled ‘Security: friend or foe?’ explores the idea of considering security as a solution, rather than a problem, and discusses how security can be incorporated into the organisation to become a corner stone of the network.

It is in this context that the Security Commission, in association with the ITSI Committee (IT & Services Industry Committee) decided to publish a brochure on CCTV. The idea for the brochure was to provide support to public transport operators in the dense and confusing world of CCTV.

CCTV is often a backbone of the security architecture of a public transport network. However, it is often regarded as the ultimate solution, the ‘silver bullet’, the effectiveness of which is perhaps taken for granted. Thus, the brochure helps the operator gain the best possible benefit from its CCTV system through a detailed analysis of the possible roles that CCTV can play in the security field. By doing so, the limitations of CCTV for security are also highlighted. The second aim of the publication is to guide the operator through the whole process of investing in a CCTV system – from identifying which risks the system will address, to planning the tender and purchasing, to training staff to use the system, and so on.

The operators involved in writing the document have a wide range of experience with CCTV and consider it a very useful tool – but only if the chosen system fits exactly with the needs of the operator (and the customer).

In the beginning…

CCTV technology was first employed in many networks as an operational tool. Nowadays it has evolved into a combined security-operations tool. CCTV is the use of video cameras to pick up and transmit pictures to a specific, limited set of monitors for viewing or recording. CCTV systems are extensively used within the public areas of public transport facilities and at the platforms or train/track interfaces of rail and underground systems. They are now increasingly installed within public transport vehicles.

The technical development of systems has also evolved and advanced. Early systems had limited functions but were, at the time, the best solution for operational needs. Over recent years, devices have become smaller, cheaper and easier to handle. The range of applications has become wider, which is why they have also become a common tool in security, as well as in operations. Today, CCTV systems are usually multi-functional systems, supporting operational (safety) and security needs.

The benefits of CCTV

CCTV has a wide range of uses for security. Uses can be ‘soft’ like reassuring passengers and staff or deterring potential perpetrators. For such issues operators need to be aware that the presence of cameras alone may not be sufficient, but that the procedures behind the cameras must also be transparent to passengers. This shows that the system is a living one, in other words that it is in use. This starts with the need to explain to passengers the general functions of the system (including how the issue of data protection is dealt with). Furthermore, customers should be informed of positive usage of the system, for example showing the customer realtime images of CCTV cameras when entering the system, or communicating the positive use of CCTV after a crime for which images supported police in identifying the perpetrators. This not only reassures passengers that the system helps to create a secure environment, but it also shows the consequences to potential criminals.

More complex uses for CCTV range from detecting security threats and alerting staff to allowing staff to assess situations from remote positions. These measures also need procedures in place behind the scenes – if staff do not know what to do when a security threat is identified, the system is of little use. Clear and easy to follow procedures must be developed and the necessary staff must be well trained and be in permanent contact with operations.

Recorded pictures can be used for forensic purposes. This evolution gave CCTV systems a new but very often welcome role. For example, it gives the operator the possibility to investigate incidents or support police investigations on vandalism or other crimes. Indeed using images for police investigations is a growing trend.

Recordings can also be used for staff training – showing real incidents on the system gives a realistic basis for learning. Educating youngsters using recording is another possibility: showing them how to behave on the network can have a positive effect.

The role of CCTV

CCTV is just one link in the chain of a well-oiled security system. Having a CCTV system does not mean that a network is automatically secure: public transport security is made up of three interlinked ‘pillars’: the ‘H’ factor (human factor, i.e. staff), technology and procedures.

CCTV is the perfect example: at first sight it might seem that CCTV is only part of the technology pillar. However, as has been described previously, experience has proved that CCTV is best used when integrated into the (security) architecture of a network, with humans and procedures linked in.

CCTV cameras can help cover huge areas as a ‘technical third eye’ and are also used for specific functions, like supervising elevators or emergency devices. They are also used in conjunction with other technologies, such as intrusion detection. Well-trained staff and procedures behind the tool are essential. Customers associate CCTV with security and control, so they expect that a ‘living system’ exists behind the cameras to help them if necessary.

CCTV systems involve huge investment, so the operator must carefully consider its use and technical requirements in order to get the best return on investment.

An important point in implementing a CCTV system is to keep the balance between the protection of data privacy and the desired surveillance of the system. The system should help to improve the feeling of security within the network, and constitute a real tool to aid staff in security matters, without infringing data privacy laws. The passenger’s fear of assault must not be replaced by a fear of his/her data privacy being violated. Laws differ from country to country and city to city and must be taken into account when designing the CCTV system.

CCTV systems often foster closer links between operators and law enforcement agencies. The responsibility for security is a shared one. Links are essential for the development of common procedures on the use of CCTV systems. The right of access to CCTV images must be clearly defined together with the local stakeholders and authorities to best fit with local needs and laws.

Lifecycle of CCTV

There are many CCTV solutions available on the market, so to ensure that the system will meet the specific needs of the operator, a process of decision making has to take place. This process is based on a fundamental analysis of risks and takes into account current security measures and tools and the expected use of the system. The capabilities of CCTV need to be considered in the wider context of the security and operational principles of the network.

The decision-making process, followed by the acquisition, implementation and operation of the system, can be described as a ‘lifecycle’.

The first step should by an analysis of the possible scenarios (what could happen), where CCTV could be used as a supporting tool. After having identified the risks it is important to define the expected role that the CCTV system would play in that scenario.

Conducting a security risk assessment is the most effective way to determine security risks to a network. In the context of a European project, UITP developed guidelines for conducting a security risk assessment in public transport. The guidelines are available from UITP4.

Furthermore, UITP offers an annual training course on security risk assessment which gives participants the opportunity to practice implementing the risk assessment guidelines in a training environment with the leadership of experienced experts from the UITP Security Commission.

When CCTV is considered to be the right solution for a number of scenarios, it needs to be planned and organised. A business case will give clear insight into all aspects of acquiring the system, for example the organisation of resources, the relevant infrastructure which will be affected or needed and so on. The results of this analysis will be helpful to develop the tender and later the purchasing process.

The most important factors to consider are the dimension of the PT system, the planned purpose of the CCTV system as well as the integration with other subsystems. Technical considerations concerning local or central recording, recording duration, digital or analogue signal, the communication network structure, image quality and so on influence the technical architecture and must be defined.

After the implementation process, extensive training must take place for employees working with the system. An Operating Procedure Manual is indispensable for the system to be run effectively, ethically and within the law.

Once the system is operational, evaluation should be an integral part of the process in order to ensure that the system is meeting the needs for which it was designed.

Operator experiences

In recent years, many operators have been experimenting with CCTV systems and their evolving capabilities. In the brochure, four experiences are shared: the operators in Brussels (STIB), and Birmingham (Centro) demonstrate good examples of developing systems together with industry suppliers to tailor to their very specific needs.

Other operators have tested ‘intelligent’ systems: Metro de Madrid conducted trials of four such systems. The East Japan Railway Company, together with an industry supplier, developed a tailor-made ‘intelligent’ system to enhance its standard system.

The tests show that, although some functions were very useful and worked well, there is still a long way to go to achieve systems which respond appropriately and cost-effectively to the needs of public transport operators.

CCTV technologies are evolving and advancing at a remarkable rate. Industry suppliers can offer many solutions that can and should be developed and installed in cooperation between supplier and operator in order to benefit fully from investment.

Operators have learned a lot in recent years on the possibilities and limitations of CCTV systems. The future will and must bring developments for an improved use of CCTV which is economically balanced and building on existing technologies already in use.

Nevertheless, the most important lesson is that an optimum result can only be reached if a full analysis is carried out before investing or upgrading, if the technology is embedded in the overall (security) system, and if there are trained staff and procedures in place. A holistic approach towards implementing or advancing current systems is important.

CCTV will always be a central tool for public transport security, but it does not in itself constitute a secure system: it is a tool which is there to help staff improve the security of public transport, which in turn makes public transport more attractive to passengers.

References

1. CCTV: Closed Circuit Television

2. www.uitp.org/advocacy/public_transport.cfm

3. Find the full programme on the UITP website: www.uitpdubai2011.org

4. Guidelines for Conducting Risk Assessment in Public Transport Networks is available to download from http://www.uitp.org/events/2010/brussels/files/COUNT ERACT-D3-PT4.pdf

About the Authors

Thomas Kritzer joined Wiener Linien in 2004, and he is the Deputy Head of the Metro Operations Department. The Department is responsible for the operation and supervision of Vienna’s five metro lines. He was responsible for the operational implementation of CCTV recording procedures in Vienna’s Metro system and since 2009 has been the Vice-Chairman of the UITP Security Commission and was member of its CCTV Working Group.

With a Master’s Degree from the University of St Andrews, UK, Lindsey Barr has been working at UITP for over five years where she is responsible for all security-related activities and manages the Security Commission. She is responsible for the organisation and programmes of conferences, workshops, study tours and security-related publications, as well as contributions to European Union funded projects. Lindsey was co-author of the publication CCTV: a Tool to Support Public Transport Security. Lindsey has spoken at many events around the world on behalf of UITP on the topic of public transport security. She also manages the Waterborne Transport Committee and is the Regional Officer for North America.

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