How Canadian mass transit agencies can benefit from collaboration

March 16, 2021 Brent Cary

What's driving collaboration in the transit industry?

The mass transit industry in Canada is ripe for revitalization. That’s because many Canadian transit agencies are learning how old siloed ways of thinking and working have held them back for too long.

Across these transit agencies, each department, vehicle contractor, and service provider have typically made independent decisions about their physical security solutions. Because of this, transit stations, vehicle depots, service facilities, operation headquarters — and even the buses, trains, and streetcars — now have a slew of different, disconnected physical security products.

The outcome? It’s a recipe for disjointed communication, slower processes, stained resources, and overstretched budgets.

Now, as older transit vehicles and technologies are phasing out, there’s an opportunity to restrategize. The focus is shifting towards collaboration and how to best deploy and manage physical security across the mass transit agency. And there’s a new conversation starting to happen— one that centers around unification.

How mass transit agencies benefit from unification

A unified transit security solution is different from integrated systems. At its core, is a suite of products developed as one solution. This means a mass transit agency can standardize on a single security platform across the organization. They can then slowly merge all independent systems onto this new platform and manage security across their entire operation as one. The benefits of unification in mass transit are far-reaching:

  • Unified onboard and facility data – There’s no need to waste time searching for the right video system or contact to access information. All video and information from the mass transit systems, whether onboard a vehicle or across transit hubs and other facilities are all unified under one head-end platform.
  • Independent and centralized access – Canadian transit agencies can create a centralized team to monitor and manage security across the organization, while still giving specific departments access to their own systems and devices.
  • Quicker access to new technologiesA unified security solution allows mass transit agencies to keep existing devices and add new technologies over time. Agencies can also add licenses and try out new built-in features and applications as needed, without compatibility issues.
  • Less training and maintenance – Mass transit operators only need to learn the ins and outs of a single security solution. And those who handle maintenance also have an easier job because all system updates and configurations are managed within the same platform.
  • Reduced operational costs – Centralized control, more efficient processes, less training, and maintenance all help to lower operational costs. And there’s only one software maintenance agreement to renew every year.
  • Streamlined, more efficient processes – Using a single platform, transit agencies can empower operators with automated response protocols to enhance emergency response. And no matter where an incident took place, investigators will be able to quickly retrieve evidence, and securely share it with authorities.
  • Increased customer service – Keeping customers happy and safe can be a catalyst to generating more revenue. Sharing video access with other operational departments can ensure that trains or buses arrive on time, safety procedures are followed, and inquiries about lost or stolen items are resolved faster.

The most important step in unifying mass transit security

Unification doesn’t happen overnight. Mass transit agencies in Canada that have already begun unifying their security solutions are thinking long-term and taking a phased approach. But the most critical step is the first one— forming a centralized team to oversee the unification project.

This team brings everyone together so the technology can come together too. They become the central point of contact for all departments, contractors, and service providers who are managing physical security. They oversee the higher-level vision for the unified mass transit solution, while also considering the needs of every division within the organization.

Considering the future of unified transit security

This team’s objectives can also include laying the foundation for the IT infrastructure that will support the unified mass transit solution and future expansions. Part of this means asking— what do we want our physical security platform to look like in 5, 10 or 15 years from now and beyond?

This is when the open architecture of the unified platform will come in to play. The openness of the platform makes a big difference in how easily a transit agency can accommodate and adapt to changing needs well into the future. It allows the team to always stay flexible and access the latest and greatest innovations, including anything from new perimeter analytics to automated drone technologies.  

How will you evolve your mass transit security?

Moving towards a unified security platform can seem daunting to mass transit agencies. By creating a dedicated team and taking things one step at a time, any transit agency can start modernizing security and increasing collaboration in ways that will pay off down the road.

Setting up the right IT infrastructure and choosing an open platform makes the investment go further. With all this in place, it becomes easier to start merging existing cameras and devices onto the new security platform, as well as bringing onboard vehicle systems and other technologies into the bigger security picture over time. 

Ready to learn more about unified mass transit solutions? Visit our transit web page.

About the Author

Brent Cary

Brent Cary, Business Development Manager, Genetec, Inc.

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