Guarding the Tracks in Montreal

Successful deployment of a video-based intrusion detection system on such a large scale is difficult in a metro rail environment


STM insists it has made notable improvement in its public safety environment with the SmartCatch deployment.  According to Claude Ouellet, professional engineer and manager of telecom operations engineering at STM, “The principal reason to use SmartCatch is to be notified right away when a person gets onto the tracks from the platform, or is getting into the tunnels.  When this happens, our control center can immediately turn off the power on the rails, tell the people to evacuate with speakers in the station, and get our agents on site immediately. 

“This may prevent people from getting electrocuted or hit by an oncoming train.  It also reduces the time for our police officers to get into the tunnel to arrest the person.  Every time a person gets into the tunnels also causes a service interruption of many precious minutes.  SmartCatch is helping us to reduce this time, and better protect our public.”

SmartCatch has also been quite useful for detecting graffiti vandals who enter train yards to tag parked trains.  The system has nearly negated this threat, providing STM prompt detection and almost immediate arrests.

SmartCatch combines advanced computer vision with the detailed knowledge of human operators.  While SmartCatch can filter out trains, handle fast-changing illumination, and distinguish a person from other motion, skilled staff must precisely define various regions of interest in each field of view.

 “When setting up a new SmartCatch system, it is very important to precisely define the borders of the zones that need to be monitored for intrusions in order to prevent false alarms when people merely get close to the controlled areas -- for example, the top versus the bottom of stairs that lead from the platforms down to the catwalk in the tunnel,” says Ouellet.

Successful use of SmartCatch also requires thoughtful integration with the operations of multiple departments.  Crews who maintain the video surveillance cameras must constantly inform SmartCatch administrators of activities that might change any camera’s resolution or field of view. This is crucial since the borders of the controlled zones must be carefully aligned to the changes. 

 “Since SmartCatch detects any human intrusion into the tunnels or onto the rails, good processes and employee collaboration are required. The control center must be notified every time normal operations require an authorized track or tunnel intrusion.  If employees forget to advise the control center in advance, it generates an unwanted distraction and loss of precious time for control center operators,” Ouellet explains.

STM’s confidence in its SmartCatch solution led to a recent upgraded, as several thousand video surveillance cameras were migrated to the Verint Nextiva video management software.  Since 2012, SmartCatch has been developed, delivered, and supported by AgilityVideo LLC (http://www.agilityvideo.com) under an exclusive license to all of the SmartCatch technology.

 STM contracted AgilityVideo to integrate SmartCatch with the new Verint Nextiva video management system and to provide ongoing technical support.   This conversion was completed in spring of 2013. STM and AgilityVideo continue to cooperate to maintain and improve the performance of SmartCatch in Montreal.  Several future feature improvements are being considered:

  1. Delivery of SmartCatch intrusion alarms to STM’s overall command-and-control system built by Alstom
  2. Automatic audio warnings from loudspeakers triggered by SmartCatch intrusion alarms
  3. Using electronic access control information to filter out SmartCatch detection of authorized intrusions

About the Author

J. Michael Rozmus (http://www.linkedin.com/in/rozmus) is the founder and CEO of AgilityVideo LLC (http://www.agilityvideo.com), provider of SmartCatch automated video surveillance and other services related to large-scale video surveillance – especially for the protection of critical infrastructure.  He can be reached at mrozmus@agilityvideo.com.