STE Security Innovation Awards Silver Medal: Technology Makeover

Washington Metro Transit Authority’s security upgrade includes IP video, PSIM, video analytics and more to protect a huge transportation infrastructure in the nation’s capital

As one of our nation’s most critical infrastructure assets, WMATA has been identified as a major transit system in which any potential destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security. Due to its importance, the authority has received more than $100 million in Department of Homeland Security grants, including the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and The Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP). The funds have been linked to the Metro’s goals to create an effective and innovative safety culture while using all resources wisely.

Leveraging DHS funding awarded in early 2012, the authority continues to take a proactive approach to enhancing security equipment located across its expansive transportation network. To address immediate challenges, the authority is working on a phased approach to upgrading its VMS, rolling out a new integrated PSIM solution as well as deploying video analytics and IP cameras at all transit locations. The overall security plan is slated to be finalized by July 2013.


A Phased Approach to Security Technology

To help rebuild the aging surveillance system throughout the Metro’s stations, rail, and bus routes, WMATA selected partner Schneider Electric to help review technology vendors that would address current and future security challenges. After reviewing 17 bids from manufacturers, WMATA chose the following technologies: Verint’s Nextiva Video Management Software; network video recorders (NVR) from Pivot3; CNL Software’s PSIM solution; video surveillance cameras from Axis, along with Mobotix’s 360-degree IP cameras; and video analytics software from BRS Labs. These solutions will be deployed with the most important facets being installed immediately and rolling out additional technologies to ensure the project is successfully completed meeting grant expiration dates.

As part of the initial plan, officials installed IP cameras throughout stations, bus garages and canopies. In addition, a video management system was deployed to monitor and record video as well as easily recall historic video. Finally, the authority plans to complete a new Security Operation Control Center in the Jackson Graham Building in Washington, D.C., that will be the main security hub for viewing all transportation networks in one centralized location.

The remaining phases of the security upgrade will include enhancements to perimeter security at rail yards, intrusion detection applications and integration with business systems. To connect all the disparate security and business systems, the authority needed a PSIM-based solution as part of the plan.


IP Video Provides the Backbone

The WMATA has more than 7,000 cameras monitoring the rail system alone — with most being analog-based. With the new DHS funding, officials are able to purchase and install new IP cameras, which are being placed primarily at the entrances to each of the Metro stations to replace the current Pelco analog cameras and encoders. “It was an outdated video platform, and they were looking to take it to the next level,” DeStafano says.    

With the new cameras — supplied by vendors Axis Communications and Mobotix — the authority can use 360-degree views to enable greater coverage with fewer cameras. “We are using four times fewer cameras to monitor our locations,” says Marshall Epler, WMATA’s Deputy Chief Engineer of Communications and Network Systems. “With the combination of our new video management software and powerful IP cameras, we can capture and record everything happening throughout the Metro.”

The new IP cameras are designed to integrate with Verint’s Nextiva Video Management Software (VMS), helping streamline installation and administration for the authority as well as lowering cost of ownership. Connecting with the Axis and Motobix cameras, Nextiva video management software provides automatic camera detection and configuration, centralized administration and management, and automated, system-wide camera health monitoring, diagnostics, and alerts.

The VMS provides manageable and effective video operations with automated system health monitoring and diagnostics, live and recorded video viewing, policy-based video distribution, efficient virtual matrix switching, versatile investigation management capabilities, enterprise DVR management, and enterprise DVR viewing. The system enables security functionalities to be integrated into a single, configurable user interface for optimal ease-of-use and operator efficiency. Its policy-based video distribution, networked video viewing, and investigation management helps WMATA rapidly detect, act, and investigate security breaches and other threats.