EXCLUSIVE FEATURE: How to manage passenger flow and Covid using intelligent solutions


Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO of Morphean, considers the role of hosted security technologies in supporting transport officials during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and into the future.

As we emerge from a second lockdown and enter the busiest shopping period of the year, ensuring the safety of passengers and staff aboard public transport remains an ongoing concern. With the added pressures caused by the approaching holiday season, the probability of soaring infection rates will have raised alarm bells with bus and train managers, transport officials and government representatives alike. A rise in commuter levels, coupled with a need for more stringent infection control protocols, threatens to put additional strain on an already overburdened transport system.

Managing passenger flow through bus terminals and train stations while ensuring adherence to health and safety measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing policies, can be difficult. This is where advances in digital surveillance technologies can play an important role in enhancing security, improving operations and supporting the customer facing teams throughout this challenging time.

Harnessing the capabilities of cloud

Cloud or hosted technology has played an important part in keeping businesses afloat and people connected throughout the pandemic. When it comes to physical security such as video surveillance and access control, today’s cloud-enabled systems are far removed from the outdated CCTV and manual access control technologies employed in the past. Cloud connectivity brings with it many benefits, from a security, operational and also business intelligence point of view, thanks to the powerful data that these solutions produce which can be used to inform decision making.

The advantages of cloud-based physical security technologies are many, and have wide ranging applications for all areas of the transport sector; across stations, transport hubs and on board vehicles. When used to support staff and complement existing processes, such systems can prove invaluable for transport professionals in helping to create a safer working environment, promoting confidence among personnel and passengers, and assuring passengers who are fearful about the current pandemic that all possible precautions are being taken during their journey.

Effective occupancy management

Monitoring the movement of staff and passengers is an essential part of being able to maintain a safe operation. Through the utilisation of surveillance cameras at entrances and exit points, as well as at key areas within transport terminals and on the transport mode itself, occupancy thresholds can be determined to ensure passenger numbers do not exceed safe limits. Network surveillance cameras, accessed via mobile device, can enable transport officials to check passenger flow in real-time, while live alerts to warn that health and safety protocols are being breached, enable swift drafting of security or operations personnel to address the situation.

Through internet of things (IoT) connectivity, additional devices can be easily added to complement the surveillance solution and unlock further benefits. Network audio speakers can be triggered to play pre-recorded messages to alert or inform passengers. Similarly, frictionless access control, enabling customers and staff to move ‘hands-free’ through gateways and ticket checkpoints to avoid viral spread, is made possible by having an access reader which is activated, for example, via QR codes on a mobile phone. And when access readers are integrated with surveillance cameras, this will act as a second layer of authentication to grant or refuse access based on valid staff credentials. 

Solutions to aid transport professionals in challenging times

Such technologies, interconnected and able to share data, can be used to more effectively report in real time on activity that threatens to have an adverse effect on passengers, staff and the transport environment. Significant parts of the rail network are relatively unmonitored, and inevitably these areas are more vulnerable to vandalism. Similarly, on bus services, abuse of passengers and staff, and acts of criminal behaviour remain a concern. By alerting security staff to a developing situation before it occurs, through aggression detection tools, an incident can be dealt with quickly, minimising disruption to transport services.

Cloud based technology can be relied on to not only help improve current services, around passenger occupancy in the current pandemic, but also to help transport officials plan for the security challenges of the future. Simple customisation and easy scalability, plus software upgrades and firmware updates ensure the system is always up to date and operational. Cloud enabled solutions for transport can provide operations and security personnel with peace of mind which comes from knowing that they are supported by a robust and resilient future-proof solution which can meet evolving requirements in a changing world.

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About Author


Saul Wordsworth is editor-at-large of Traffic Technology International (TTi), and presenter and producer of the TTi Podcast. He is an author and keen cyclist, and lives in north London.