|APTA Members Speak Out on Technology's Value Today|
North County Transit District
Chair, APTA Safety Coordinating Committee
Since I am chair of the APTA Safety Coordinating Committee, my first response about technology is the value of video analytics embedded in closed circuit television cameras—from a dummy camera that just records to having a camera that is “intelligent,” gathering information and helping you focus your resources.
Having that camera is great, assuming you have someone watching that camera all the time. But all agencies have way more cameras than people observing them. Analytics help you focus in on areas or conditions that are different from what you expect them to be—the day-to-day activities in and outside of stations.
If someone is at a location where people usually do not congregate, or there is activity outside of typical behavior, technology would recognize and alert you to that. At your operations control center, staffed 24-7, those analytics enable a person who may have 10-30 screens to monitor and relay information directly to the pertinent safety or security official.
The role of technology is to improve the customer’s riding experience: broadly defined, making the service meet the customer’s expectations, including safety and security. There are significant changes in technology since I started 17 years ago, but I’d say that the top one is the increased use of computers—and how they are used across all business platforms.
To cite just a few examples: customers use computers to obtain real-time information; we use automatic passenger counters to help us improve our efficiency and understand what’s happening in our system; and we analyze information about the performance of our buses and trains. Or take scheduling. Back in the dark dinosaur days, people scheduled with papers all over the room. With computers, that process is now more efficient—both in the time it takes and the efficiency in the routes produced.
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