• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

How new public transportation technology is prioritizing passenger safety

Each year, Americans take billions of trips on buses, light rail, subways, trains and other public transit modalities. So it’s not surprising the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $91 billion in guaranteed funding for public transportation, with priority areas of public safety, climate, transport equity and investing in new public transportation technology.

Though traveling by public transportation is generally considered to be safer—10 times safer per mile when compared to traveling by personal vehicle—public safety remains a priority for passengers. A recent survey of lapsed riders found 87% said safety was the biggest factor in whether they would return to mass transit.

As technology has advanced, innovative and affordable solutions give public safety agencies the flexibility to update their current software and security measures to state-of-the-art programming and equipment. Learn how technology can help provide passenger safety and security in public transport.

Onboard public transit safety

One of the reasons public safety remains a top priority for both officials and passengers alike is a rise in crime. New public transportation technology can play a part in helping to address this increase.

Smart video analytics

Real-time intelligent video analytics is a relatively new public transportation technology that can provide additional data to help public safety officials and transit operators and managers make more informed decisions. Cameras capture high-quality video, which can be analyzed to identify unusual or abnormal behavior and trigger alerts. Video analytics can also alert public transportation drivers when the vehicle is at capacity in near real-time, further prioritizing passenger safety.

Real time response systems

Inaccurate or incomplete information can slow down and hinder public safety efforts. Further challenges can come when data sources are siloed in disparate solutions and between different agencies, such as law enforcement, public transit agencies and other organizations.

A real time response system can give a holistic view of safety and security in public transport operations at any given moment. The system fosters interagency collaboration, enhances situational awareness and helps improve decision-making by identifying threats through the integration of multiple technologies. Large amounts of data are integrated from multiple sources—such as computer-aided dispatch, video sensors, record management systems and third-party databases—and compiled into a consolidated, accurate and real-time view of the public transit network and beyond.

Other uses cases for new public transportation technology

Through the Internet of Things, public safety and transit officials have access to more data than ever before. This has produced a number of interesting technology use cases.

Positive Train Control

Designed to make commuter rail safer, Positive Train Control (PTC) is a communication-intense technology to track train movements and monitor rail tracks for risks, such as unsafe speeds or a mainline switch in an improper position. The data the sensors collect on the rails and locomotives is analyzed in near real-time. The PTC can then automatically trigger a train’s braking system if high speeds are detected, or it can prevent a collision with another train on the line.

Air monitoring sensors

Because of high population density, urban city centers are at a greater risk of targeted biological and chemical attacks. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is working on a collaborative project with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and other public safety partners to test biological and chemical sensor technologies in a New York City subway station, grading the programs’ effectiveness in detecting hazards. The project’s goal is to use this new public transportation technology to decrease the time it takes public safety leaders to detect and confirm pathogens, some of which can take 12 to 36 hours to positively identify with current technology.

Fleet monitoring

Using GPS tracking, fleet managers can track mobile assets in real time to improve utilization, monitor operator behavior, and increase safety and security in public transport. A majority of fleet professionals utilizing the technology (65%) consider it to be very or extremely beneficial to their business, according to the Verizon 2022 Fleet Tracking Trends Report. After implementing the technology, respondents reported an average 14% decrease in accident costs as well as a 10% decrease in labor and fuel.

Pairing new public transportation technology with a reliable network

By investing in new public transportation technology that prioritizes real-time data or advanced processes for detecting threats, operators and managers can have the best available information when making safety decisions on behalf of passengers and crew. Verizon’s network can provide speed and low latency to those on the front lines and is designed to withstand extreme conditions.

Discover more about how Verizon supports first responders working on the front lines in their mission to protect and serve our communities.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

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