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

The VMS gives the authority greater situational awareness. With its multi-site feature, the system provides geographically-distributed locations to be monitored autonomously. WMATA can view live or recorded video and alarms across sites as well as investigate events from any one of those sites. If an incident occurs, the investigation management tool allows the authority to quickly analyze what happened. Users can then export any and all case-related audio, video and other data into case binders and share with local and national law enforcement agencies.

 “We are very pleased with the functionality of the video management software,” Epler says. “The features and the overall reliability of the system allow us to easily monitor our facilities and rapidly detect, act on and investigate any security breaches.”

The authority is also leveraging Pivot3 NVRs, which include flexible storage options as well as failover reassurance that the solutions will not go down. Connected via a VMWare integration with the VMS, the authority can rely on both the hardware and software to efficiently detect security threats and operational inefficiencies, improve emergency event response, and build evidence.


Eliminating Human Error

With so many threats to be concerned about from a security standpoint, it only made sense for the transit authority to deploy video analytics. After all, being able to monitor all facets of WMATA is too labor-intensive for human eyes alone.

As part of the upgrade, the authority chose BRS Labs’ behavioral recognition software to quickly analyze video and provide rule-based alerts. Combining computer vision with machine learning, the software connects with cameras to detect any movement that violates pre-programmed conditions. The solution is able to recognize structures, sizes, shapes, locations, velocities, accelerations, paths of objects and other characteristics of all objects within the scene and form memories about them. Integrated with the VMS, security personnel can use this application to proactively address security threats and ignore normal activity.


PSIM Ties it Together

 “We have a lot of disparate systems that need to be interconnected,” Epler says. “With the introduction of PSIM technology, we can now view all security and business systems on one integrated platform.”

CNL Software’s IPSecurityCenter platform gives the authority real-time situational awareness at the Security Operations Control Center. Some of the older systems as well as the newly deployed systems are combined onto one platform giving the authority total control of all operations.

“It is truly command-and-control,” DeStefano says. “The PSIM came in because it’s more than just video and CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives) detection — there’s also access control, a fire detection system, and there’s some integration with their train control system, for example.”

“Here’s a scenario,” DeStefano continues. “Let’s say a chemical or biological weapon is released, and the agent is detected thru the CBRNE system. That alert is immediately picked up by the PSIM system, which pulls up the video, and a task force or other response is dispatched (from the command center). At the same time, the PSIM system communicates with the train control system and stops any train from pulling into that station. That’s how the system was envisioned to work.”


Future Expansion

As one of the major transportation hubs in the U.S., the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority strives to provide the community with safe and reliable options. The Electronic Safety and Security Program will provide the authority with a highly reliable video recording and viewing application, improved situational awareness, expedited response times, reduced maintenance rates, and increased efficiency around incident management.

The security applications being deployed now will also be leveraged at any new construction sites, including a planned extension of Metrorail to Dulles Airport; street car lines in the District and northern Virginia; and a light rail in suburban Maryland planned for the future. “The system is constantly being expanded,” DeStafano says. “The number of cameras are definitely going to increase.”

WMATA is also looking at expanding the PSIM to accept data from a variety of new sources in the national capital region. “It will encompass cameras on bridges and all sorts of technology integrated together,” DeStafano continues. “In the event of a major catastrophe sharing of video and information is going to be a lot easier in the future.”