UK public transport security to benefit from growing shift towards real-time video surveillance

Canary Wharf Station in the heart of London's Docklands

Canary Wharf Station in the heart of London’s Docklands

A move away from legacy analogue CCTV technology to IP video solutions will enable critical transport networks to effectively deter, detect and delay threats to ensure passenger safety. More than 85% of transport networks across Western Europe are planning to install IP cameras in the near future. That’s according to a recent survey commissioned by Axis Communications in partnership with the global public transport organisation the Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP).

Globally, the transport industry has led the way in using network video for both security and commercial applications. IP video surveillance is also increasingly playing a crucial role in the smooth and efficient running of significant parts of the UK’s rail network, as highlighted by the successful deployment of network camera technology at Canary Wharf Station. This has assisted the station’s management team to facilitate 24-hour rail operations and improve passenger safety.

The shift towards IP video surveillance is helping operators use real-time analytics to enhance decision-making, ranging from common platform changes to the more infrequent critical scenarios, such as a station clearance in response to a security threat or other emergency scenario. For example, machine learning technology is helping to turn vast transport surveillance infrastructures into live monitoring systems. This software identifies what’s ‘normal’ activity within a scene, automatically creating an alert if ‘abnormal’ activity is recognised.

However, despite this migration trend, the UK has struggled to keep pace with developments in such technologies. Although 97.3% of survey respondents said they had some degree of video surveillance installed, 66% cited either ‘other priorities’, ‘funding difficulties’ or ‘no clear business case’ as the main barriers for not investing in more innovative IP technology. Interestingly, approximately 75% of those who responded ‘no clear business case’ relied on outdated analogue technology to meet their surveillance needs.

Security and efficiency benefits

Lucas Young, business development manager for the transportation sector at Axis Communications, stated: “These results are incredibly important. The perceived lack of a business case highlights that many transport operators are unaware of the security and efficiency benefits real-time video surveillance can offer. To respond to security events as and when they happen, a proactive rather than a reactive approach is required. That just isn’t possible with legacy CCTV equipment.”

Lucas Young

Lucas Young

Young continued: “When analysing security footage in real-time with advanced IP technology, operators are faced with hundreds of live feeds. This may seem daunting, but automated alerts can assist in managing the increased amount of data real-time video creates, helping to identify potential threats as they happen and prevent them from becoming security incidents. This is also freeing up valuable staff time, such that members of the team can concentrate on improving the passenger experience.”

In conclusion, Young explained: “While the benefits of connecting once offline technologies to a network creates an array of benefits for transport networks, it’s also important to note that all devices connected to the Internet are potentially vulnerable to cyber attack. Cyber security is a huge issue for the transport industry and could prove a costly oversight if technology isn’t implemented correctly. We aim to protect our transport networks not only from physical threats, but also from those posed in the online environment.”

*To learn more about why real-time video surveillance is set to become the cornerstone of public transport safety in the UK, download the latest Axis Communications White Paper at:

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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