Enhancing safety through automated CCTV status monitoring for TfL
How telent developed a new system that helps Transport for London (TfL) make significant and cost-effective improvements to CCTV maintenance on the London Underground.
1.37 billion passengers use the London Underground every year. They make more than 31 million journeys a day, access hundreds of station platforms using 188 lifts, 440 escalators, thousands of stairs and a labyrinth of passageways, making effective passenger safety monitoring a complex challenge.
Ensuring every station’s camera system is working effectively is vital for ongoing safety, security and legal compliance purposes, particularly with passenger numbers predicted to grow and in an increasingly litigious environment.
telent identified a significant opportunity to improve the management of the multi-vendor CCTV camera maintenance and built an advanced software solution that lowers servicing costs and increases system assurance to improve availability through automated camera monitoring.
At a glance overview dashboard.
TfL manages around 14,000 CCTV cameras across London Underground to help ensure passenger safety and security. Monitoring, maintaining and assuring these assets is complex, costly and time-consuming.
The system assurance and efficiency of TfL’s CCTV maintenance was improved through automated status monitoring of CCTV cameras using Arbitex. This system enables telent to proactively and remotely identify when cameras are out of focus, misaligned or faulty, without having to wait for station staff to report problems.
- Improved system integrity and assurance
- Predict and prevent capability
- Lower servicing costs for improved ROI
- Automated camera monitoring
- Quick and low-cost mass deployment
- Compliant and traceable data
- Intuitive operation
- Single platform for all cameras
The true costs of camera failure
With large camera estates it’s not always easy to identify image deterioration or camera failures and this can cause delays in the reporting of those issues. In 2014, telent’s Director of Asset Management, Reg Cook, commissioned a detailed study of CCTV maintenance across three working facilities with large camera populations in partnership with a major customer. The research uncovered that;
- Only 8% of camera faults were reported within 24 hours (usually operationally critical cameras)
- The average time for a camera defect to be reported was 19 days
- 90% of camera faults were reported in a period between 3 days and 3 months of the actual failure
Cameras are critical, operational and security assets that typically demand a rapid fix time of 4 hours. Any delay in fault reporting reduces integrity and availability, all critical in today’s heightened security environment. On-site maintenance uses time and resources; rushing to fix a camera that has been off-line for several days is expensive so our planned, proactive approach to maintenance provides increased value for money. Maintenance costs can be reduced if the cause of a failure is known before an engineer attends site, saving both engineer visits and management time.
Building a remote camera monitoring solution for TfL
Based on this study, telent, as TfL’s CCTV maintainer, developed a system to remotely identify image deterioration or camera failure across the numerous and diverse CCTV systems and deployed technologies. The developed solution needed to work seamlessly with existing maintenance resources and existing IP and analogue cameras from multiple vendors.
Commercial and operational pressures meant that the solution had to:
- Be quick and easy to deploy
- Need no additional equipment or upgrades to existing cameras
- Operate on low bandwidth so as not to impact the performance of networks
- Able to provide a positive return on investment
Our solution was to develop Arbitex, a system that enabled the automated monitoring of existing camera systems to identify and report image deterioration and camera failures.
A better approach to camera monitoring
telent’s contract with TfL included an agreement that we would begin camera maintenance within 4 hours of a fault being reported. Through the application of Arbitex we were able to remove the delays in identifying failure and deterioration. By working collaboratively with TfL we were able to:
- Identify and prioritise critical cameras and critical failure modes
- Increase the fix SLA on less critical cameras enabling a planned and lower cost approach.
This significantly reduced cost while improving assurance and increasing system availability. The benefits were so significant that the project implementation was totally funded by the savings in maintenance costs.
Arbitex is now delivering the following benefits to TfL
Increased asset availability and lower costs – Arbitex’s ability to continuously check benchmark images combined with the associated tablet-based engineer tool provides end-to-end system assurance. Accurate information on the root cause of camera failure, coupled with the potential to implement remote fixes, reduces engineer site visits, improves fix times and reduces disruption. The need to have regular intrusive on-site system inspections is removed, further reducing costs and increasing engineer safety.
Quick and simple deployment – Arbitex can be set up quickly; even for legacy analogue systems. The on-site work at a single location is typically less than one night. In some cases, where IP cameras are available there is no requirement for a site visit. Only a single box and cable connection to the CCTV system are required on site – no additional equipment or camera upgrades are needed – helping to make Arbitex a cost-effective and efficient system to install.
Compliant and traceable data – The Arbitex database automatically records all actions carried out (both by users and by the system) in a fully auditable manner. In addition, to help contribute to compliance requirements, the system allows TfL to view the condition of its entire CCTV estate at any point in time.
Enhanced maintenance capabilities – Arbitex enables reactive servicing to become far more planned and supports a reliability-centred maintenance approach. This saves both cost and resource. Reducing site visits reduces carbon emissions and removes site-based risk to improve safety. An Arbitex support tool is available for engineers and the system facilitates remote support.
At a glance monitoring – The system automatically provides red-amber-green (RAG) status and alerts. The dashboard allows both a high-level view and the ability to view a single camera.
Versatile and adaptable performance – The system works with obsolete or legacy cameras through to high-tech IP cameras, and traditional digital video recorders (DVRs) to modern network video recorders (NVRs). In addition, image check frequency can be increased or decreased for each individual camera as needed. The system allows for other analytics to be added, such as density monitoring.
If you would like to discuss Arbitex and the application for your business, please contact telent today.