It is no secret that we live in a day and age where privacy has become a growing concern. Like so many industries, these concerns are especially prevalent in transit. With the increasing use of software and other technologies, such as vehicular onboard cameras, topics around privacy and safety come to the forefront. Although many improvements and innovations have been made to help ease certain tensions around cameras, most people might agree they serve an important purpose. In just the past decade, onboard cameras have become essential to transit operations and have positively impacted the lives of drivers and passengers in numerous ways.
Although the core technology might be similar, onboard cameras have vastly improved over the past few years. Nowadays, they are capable of full-vehicle monitoring in high definition and crystal clear digital audio. Video capture systems offer a variety of options, all with the same goals: to ensure passenger and driver safety and to capture activity in real-time.
Cameras strategically placed throughout a transit vehicle typically record driver and passenger behavior. Responding to user’s concerns about privacy, some onboard camera systems are able to blur faces and can even provide different audio playback from within any point of the vehicle. Exterior cameras show the immediate vicinity around the vehicle, including both foot and vehicular traffic.
These cameras act as the driver's second (and third, and fourth) set of eyes, deterring misbehavior and helping ensure that rule compliance. They also protect transit providers and their employees from claims of misconduct. Providers can document all interactions on their vehicles and in the event, a situation arises, can determine exactly what happens between passengers, between drivers and passengers, and in the case of exterior cameras, between their vehicles and public traffic. School bus cameras have proven invaluable in cases of bullying among students and for buses in high crime areas, cameras can provide an extra safety net in preventing violence. For transit operators responsible for safely moving people, cameras help them rest more easily.
The technologies available today to transit service providers are numerous, but it’s up to the provider to ensure the solutions they implement are user friendly. Although onboard cameras are among the technologies considered indispensable today, there can often be some customer discomfort involved with being “on camera” all the time. Having clear policies in place around the use of captured audio and video and communicating that information to customers is often the very best way to ensure wider acceptance. We only need to spend a few minutes on YouTube for examples of how prevalent transit-videos has become and how the large use-case for their distribution.
However, onboard video systems are here to stay and with so many products out there, transit providers can find a system that works best for their needs and their budgets. Some systems even integrate nicely with dispatch and scheduling software, providing a fully integrated picture for transit operations. Considering the safety they provide, they are well worth the investment and are transit trends worth following.
About the Author
Read Ecolane's blog articles for perspective, opinion and information on transit and paratransit issues.