Learning from SECUR-ED, the largest security demonstration projects

Posted: 14 July 2014 | | No comments yet

As the conclusion of the SECUR-ED1 project fast approaches, Andrea Soehnchen – Coordinator of the project from the UITP – provides key details of how the project was approached, carried-out, what conclusions can already be drawn, and what lessons have been learned from an operator’s perspective.


After three and a half years, the SECUR-ED project is coming to an end in September 2014. Funded by the EU’s FP7 programme with a budget of €40 million, it was one of the largest public transport security research and demonstration projects. The consortium brought together 40 partners from the public transport sector, industry and research institutions. The project objectives were to provide European public transport operators with the means to enhance urban transport security and to enlarge the public transport security market for the industry.

The approach

Key elements of SECUR-ED have of course been the demonstrations which have all been based on the three pillars of security; procedures; human factor; and technology. In order to be relevant for the European public transport industry in general, it was important that all solutions tested were generic and:

  • Interoperable – following existing standards
  • Scalable – solving a wide range of issues and adaptable for operators with different size and complexity
  • Cost-effective
  • Transferable across different EU Member States – meeting different policy and legislative requirements
  • Minimising the impact of security measures on service performance, the freedom of movement, privacy, etc.

When defining the demonstrations within SECUR-ED it was important to address significant security challenges, ranging from minor offences to terrorism threats that reflect concrete operator needs and yet have to be generic.

The demonstrations

Within the SECUR-ED project, four large-scale flagship demonstrations were carried out in Paris, Milan, Madrid and Berlin:


The demonstration in Paris evaluated the protection of an interchange node against different attacks (explosive, toxic/chemical and radioactive) and tested the resilience of network and IT systems against a cyber-attack by using daily security capacities and dedicated devices. Demonstration objectives were to assess the current technical devices and organisational set-ups in a security-related context and to improve the RATP’s capacities in the security field.


The Milan demonstration focused on the use of video analytics to monitor threats and the protection of vehicles in depots. It was important to review the reaction and event management for different situational levels (alert/alarm/crisis) and to improve the procedural coordination of different stakeholders involved in incident management.


The demonstration in Madrid aimed to improve the handling of incidents by enhancing the identification of priority tasks and procedures, developing an interoperable incident management tool shared between operators in order to improve the communication between control centres in case of an incident, taking into consideration the particular role of the transport organising authority that has to act in coordination with several public transport operators.


The Berlin demonstration improved standard and emergency operating procedures, field level security plans and decision-making models for threat, emergency and crisis situations. The plans were complemented by security and awareness training programmes for operational and security staff, including control room operators and management staff.

In addition to the flagship demonstrations, smaller-scale satellite demonstrations were carried out in: Lisbon (Portugal); Bilbao (Spain); İzmir (Turkey); Bucharest (Romania); Bergen (Norway); and Brussels (Belgium). These satellite demonstrations aimed to adapt solutions developed and tested with the flagship demonstration to a different local context and test their transferability and flexibility. Depending on the local risk assessment, the satellite demonstrations combined technology tools management procedures or training courses into a single demonstration project, successfully proving that the developed solutions are not only useful for large public transport operators.

What lessons have been learned from the SECUR-ED demonstrations?

At the time of writing of this article, the last satellite demonstrations have finished and a full evaluation has not yet been completed. Nevertheless, some key conclusions can already be drawn.

CCTV and video analytics

CCTV and video analytics are very interesting tools to improve security in public transport – they can help investigate incidents and can be useful to coordinate responses between operators and first responders. Experience from other sectors shows that this technology can also assist in the prevention of incidents, in anticipating crowds or identifying suspicious objects, but more development is needed here as public transport systems are highly dynamic.

Network and communications systems

Network and communications systems are crucial elements in security concepts. Reliable means of communication help enhance the coordination of staff and reactivity during incident management and more efficient video transmission improving the surveillance of vehicles can help to improve security on-board. But we also need to accept that public transport operators cannot replace their communication infrastructure every time technology is advancing to a next generation – the development of systems that allow the integration of legacy technology are therefore crucial.

Information management

Having the tools to collect relevant information is key, but just as important is information management. Only information that can be processed and analysed when needed is useful. Decisions have to be made by humans, but technology can be very helpful in making informed decisions, especially in times of crisis or stress. More intelligent information management systems can monitor sensors and other tools and relieve human operators in standard situations – they can help reduce false alarms and focus the attention of control room operators to relevant events. Including geo-localisation assists in the coordination of response teams and a combination with passenger information systems helps to keep the impact on passengers to a minimum.

Cyber security

Cyber security is a growing concern in general and risk assessment models for public transport and has to be adapted in order to incorporate such issues. Business processes need to be reviewed in order to identify the most relevant cyber threats and counter measures implemented.


Training has been confirmed as one of the most effective and flexible security safeguards. While local context and legislation may vary, the development of generic training material has proved very effective. Even though adaptations and translations will always be necessary to integrate generic material into local training programmes, the developed lessons have helped the involved operators to move from reactive and problem-driven training programmes to a more pro-active approach, identifying gaps and weaknesses in existing training programmes and overcoming these gaps before something happens.

What have public transport operators learned from the SECUR-ED project?

The greatest advantage of the SECUR-ED project is the fact that it has been building on real-life demonstrations that showed the use of security systems and solutions that were all based on the real needs of operators.

Testing of new security solutions usually takes place in artificial environments such as laboratories. And very often, when we discuss new developments and ideas on security issues in public transport, developments, projects or research work is focused on very specific surroundings and very specific conditions. It can be difficult to transfer these elements into another context; for example, CCTV might only work in a specific environment, with a specific type of light.

One of the conclusions that have been confirmed is that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. We have learned, for example, that different countries have different data privacy laws and not every CCTV solution can be used everywhere. It was also interesting to learn from the different partners how the police, for example, dealt with public transport in their respective countries, or what kind of relationship the judiciary has with the operators and how public transport laws are developed.

One of the biggest advantages of the project was the contacts that were made. There was a lot of interesting material, solutions, technologies involved in the demonstrations. Another great legacy of SECUR-ED was the fact that never before has there been such a close and focused operation between such a large number of parties from different sectors including public transport operators, security industry, research and law enforcement.





Andrea Soehnchen is a graduated Civil Engineer, specialised in infrastructure and transport planning. She joined UITP in 2001 as a European Project Manager and built up UITP’s security related activities in the wake of the bombings in Madrid and Moscow. After some years working for Securitas, a leading private security company, Andrea joined UITP again and took responsibility for the SECUR-ED project.