In 2010 the Interurban Transit Partnership, known to its passengers as The Rapid, launched an industry-wide search for a technologically advanced mobile video surveillance solution. The agency’s requirements: A proven, reliable system for high-quality recordings and an easy-to-use fleetwide management platform.
The Rapid, which serves the Grand Rapids, Mich. metro area, is an essential service benefiting the community, providing safe and dependable transportation to 10.8 million passengers a year on 29 routes. After a thorough RFP process, Apollo Video Technology delivered a hardware and software solution designed to meet all of The Rapid’s technical requirements and one that would mature with the agency over time.
With a new deployment The Rapid hoped to avoid the cost and inconvenience of continual upgrades when new technologies were available. Previously, compatibility issues with its existing solution required multiple software programs to view recorded video from various generations of hardware.
Because of this, The Rapid focused on finding a technology partner that could offer a fleet-wide compatible software solution for managing the agency’s vehicles regardless of the age of various components across the fleet and without the need to unnecessarily replace hardware in order to maintain compatibility.
Apollo Video was best suited for this role, as it could provide The Rapid with the only hardware and software in the industry that is forward and backward compatible with multigenerational systems, saving the agency valuable resources – not only in hardware replacement costs, but personnel training and new software deployment expenses as well.
The Rapid has invested in providing a safe and secure environment for its employees and riders. In addition to sophisticated mobile video surveillance technology, the agency has deployed new vehicles, installed bus shelters and organized a safety training program that instructs all vehicle operators and supervisors on how to manage incidents and use implemented technology. Brian Pouget, The Rapid’s chief operating officer, said managing all equipment and vehicle activity through one software solution has eased the training process for new operators and supervisors.
“We think very highly of our training program,” he said. “For the agency, it is as important to educate operators and managers about preventing adverse events on a bus, as it is to educate them on how powerful and useful the video system is for reviewing incidents. The equipment’s capabilities help us quickly deliver video clips as evidence for law enforcement.”
The Rapid uses Apollo Video’s Vehicle Information Management (ViM) Software, which includes capabilities such as, an archive system with short-term and long-term storage options, event statistics and reporting features. The combination of this software and video surveillance hardware allows management staff to monitor bus activity, automatically download video clips and request specific portions of video for download on-demand.
The hard drive storage that comes standard with the RoadRunner digital video recorder (DVR) has allowed The Rapid to access footage and respond to customer service concerns up to one month after an event has occurred. This has allowed Pouget and his operations team ample time to investigate concerns, complaints and incidents that may arise and eliminates the need to physically remove hard drives from the system.
Recently, a suspicious package was left on a bus and, while the local police department’s bomb squad used mechanical robots to determine whether the box was safe to remove, the cameras were rolling. The package was removed safely and determined not to be hazardous. However, having access to this video footage allowed the incident to serve as a valuable training tool for the police department’s approach for investigating similar situations.
“The seamless software and hardware compatibility is exactly what we asked for,” remarked Pouget. “Together, the tools have become a crucial component for executing the organization’s operation and safety initiatives. We are able to save valuable time and money across the agency.”
While the implementation of a video system, its software and proper training cannot always prevent an incident from happening, bus operators have noticed that when customers realize their activities are being recorded, their behavior improves; the mere presence of surveillance cameras are providing security for passengers and drivers.
The Rapid has enhanced and added to its video surveillance system since the initial installation in early 2012. Now, with the recent addition of wireless connectivity, Pouget, transit supervisors, law enforcement personnel and other first responders to have access to real-time video footage out in the field.
“The wireless connectivity on The Rapid vehicles greatly improved our accessibility to video,” said Pouget. “The entire agency and our partners throughout the municipality enjoy this streamlined approach and more convenient access to wirelessly downloaded video.”
Activity on and around The Rapid vehicles is captured through six interior- and two exterior-mounted cameras. If a vehicle is involved in any abnormal event, such as a collision that triggers an on-board accelerometer and a transit supervisor or police vehicle is in range, the wireless technology allows first responders to monitor and download video remotely.
This case demonstrates the way many transit agencies are procuring state-of-the-art technology. By extending the technical capabilities onboard The Rapid vehicles, the agency is increasing safety, improving efficiency and saving money. As this agency’s fleet continues to mature, the Apollo Video system will grow with it and continue to provide on-board video surveillance and fleet management tools.
“The seamless software and hardware compatibility is exactly what we asked for. Together, the tools have become a crucial component for executing the organization’s operation and safety initiatives. We are able to save valuable time and money across the agency.”
– Brian Pouget, chief operating officer, Interurban Transit Partnership
- Fleet-wide management with ViM Software
- Automatic download of transit video
- Real time video streaming