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Climb Aboard the Connected IoT Train

Editor’s Note: One rapidly emerging technological reality today is the “Internet of Things” (IoT)—vast networks that connect people, processes, data, systems and objects. The following article explores one implication for public transportation.

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Business Development Manager, Transportation


Public transit agencies hold passenger comfort, safety, security and reliability as their highest priorities. Unforeseen issues that cause service delays and interruptions disrupt these goals. Implementing new, smarter transportation control, monitoring, communication and video surveillance systems is one answer.

These highly integrated, feature-rich systems provide broad intelligence, warning operators of issues. By providing fast Internet connectivity for the video content passengers request and supporting network video surveillance, public transit systems can also derive additional benefits from video analytics and post-analysis.

Up to now, achieving the ideal “connected train” has been hampered due to high costs and longer deployment schedules from existing proprietary-based systems installed today. Eliminating these limitations is the Internet of Things (IoT) combined with next-generation embedded computing platforms that provide interoperability and high-performance connectivity.

IoT Connected Train Needs
Connecting disparate and individual equipment into one powerful network to provide data is the value IoT promises for transit. Doing so necessitates open architecture-embedded computing platforms combined with advanced software that streamlines implementation of massively connected real-time information systems.

IoT connected transit also requires certified, fully validated solutions that offer built-in scalability to enable cost-effective, full-scale deployment.

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions use open architecture that enables interoperability among components and applications (such as those in a video surveillance system) and also help cut costs. COTS solutions are inherently scalable and facilitate customization so operators can maximize investments.

Open standards also ensure broad knowledge of the computing architecture and using a modular COTS approach enables operators to configure based on their needs.

A move away from proprietary software also streamlines implementation. New video management software (VMS) delivers advanced functionalities that record captured video, audio and associated metadata while allowing flexible playback and analysis. Next-generation VMS supports encryption of audio and video data at the time of recording, thus increasing security.

IoT Operational Benefits
Using Internet Protocol (IP) as the foundation for train system evolution allows operators to use the latest digital technologies, faster Ethernet and wireless networks with IoT-enabled systems.

For example, the power of IoT can be realized in next-generation video surveillance systems integrated throughout a leveraged network, giving operators a comprehensive real-time view of rolling stock and facilities.

Today’s video surveillance systems can utilize remote server backhaul capabilities through 4G LTE connectivity and/or Wi-Fi from IoT gateways, allowing assets to be monitored in real time through central control centers or field-based systems, thus enhancing security. Connected IoT-enabled surveillance systems can “see” large networks of cameras and provide analytics enabling improved incident identification, location and recording.

Agencies can also take advantage of the IoT by securely capturing and analyzing volumes of data from every vehicle. Control centers will have constant real-time communication with their fleets to conduct remote monitoring and diagnostics to improve operations. Agencies can also identify new revenue-generating services, such as paid video content, train TV and Bring Your Own Device for travelers.

Putting IoT Technology to Work
One example of a fully-IP-based onboard video surveillance system incorporates Kontron’s TRACe COTS computing platforms and Adetel Solutions’ VMS, which supports multiple high-resolution cameras and utilizes the latest network video encoding and streaming protocols. Captured video images and audio signals can be digitized, compressed and streamed over the Ethernet by different cameras using industry standard real-time streaming protocols.

Designed to be compatible with all standards-based ONVIF-supported VMS, this solution ensures compatibility and interoperability, supporting multiple data streams transmitted simultaneously. The captured streams can be transmitted either to an onboard network video recorder, a driver console or a wayside operations control center. This same configuration can be extended to a wayside station or depot to interface with a third-party system.

Connected IoT-based information systems enable transit agencies to implement substantial efficiencies and lower operational costs. Innovative transportation-validated COTS platforms and highly functional software will ensure that operators stay on track in meeting their passenger goals.

As IoT-based systems roll out globally, they will have even greater potential to positively affect transit.
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