Amtrak protects facilities with high-tech surveillance

Company merges physical security with IT at California maintenance facilities


Looking to take a more proactive approach to security at two of their California maintenance yards, passenger rail carrier Amtrak recently implemented a new video surveillance system which tied in an IP video management system, thermal imaging cameras, video analytics, and a command-and-control solution.

Cisco, which will host an SIW Webinar on Feb. 5, 2009, provided Amtrak with an IT system that merges physical security solutions with an advanced IT video management platform, allowing Amtrak security personnel to monitor and respond to events in real time as opposed to combing through hours of video footage to retrieve data about an incident that has already occurred.

According to Kevin Dailey, vice president of Consiliant, the Irvine, Calif.-based integrator that was awarded the project, the client needed an IT platform that was highly reliable as well as easy to maintain. Dailey’s firm chose the Cisco’s Video Surveillance Manager.

"The Cisco system is built from the ground up with an IP approach," Dailey said. "It is not an analog system that has been adapted to accommodate IP; it has been IP from day one and we were moving to integrate that with IP cameras and IP wireless networking devices, video analytics, as well as access control systems that would be communicating over an IP network."

In addition to the Cisco system, Consiliant also utilized Proximex’s Command and Control platform, IQinVision IQeye 2-megapixel cameras integrated with Agent VI’s video analytics technology, SightLogix surveillance cameras, and FLIR thermal imaging cameras to create a comprehensive monitoring solution for the facilities. One of the challenges the integrator faced was long, exposed areas at the facilities’ borders. That led Dailey’s team to the use of the SightLogix and FLIR cameras, which provided them with 1,500 feet of coverage along long-range perimeter areas.

In the event of a power failure or another type of emergency incident, the command and video systems for the Amtrak facilities provide backup coverage to each other to ensure operational effectiveness. The integrated system, which is monitored at both locations from central operation centers, also has the ability to transmit alerts and video footage to PDA devices, allowing security staff to keep tabs on the maintenance facilities remotely.

"Capturing the video is one thing. But using real-time alerts from the video analytic platform will allow us to stop potential terrorist threats in progress rather than analyzing the events after the fact," said Cassim Mamoon, director of engineering for Amtrak. "The command and control platform will correlate the threat information for the officer on duty and reduce our response time dramatically. Using Consiliant as our system integrator made implementing complex technology very straightforward. They handled everything from system design to construction management."

According to Keith White, a security consultant who worked with Amtrak on the project, the passenger rail line’s proactive approach to security at the maintenance facilities marks a culture change within the rail industry from simply using surveillance as a loss prevention or worker safety tool to employing it as a real-time threat detection and prevention system. White added that utilizing the new Cisco system was the best way for the rail line to accomplish this goal.

"(The Cisco system) has allowed for the integration of all these systems into one graphical interface management platform," White said.

About 80 percent complete, the integration of the security systems at the Amtrak maintenance facilities is one of the largest projects that Consiliant has undertaken, according to Dailey, and thus far, all reviews have been positive.

Learn More:
Join Cisco and SecurityInfoWatch.com on Feb. 5, 2009, for a webcast on security solutions which includes a live case study presentation about this Amtrak project. Register here to view webcast for free. Webcast will be archived for one year.