Public transport gets smarter: insights from Patrik Anderson from Axis Communications

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Video surveillance is a very common technology used in public transport, especially for security purposes. Surveys were conducted in 2015 and 2017-2018 by UITP, together with industry expert Axis Communications, to public transport organisations to get an understanding of video surveillance in public transport.

The results of the surveys have been shared in a recent Statistics Brief, and are detailed with further analysis in the new Full Report, International Trends in Video Surveillance: Public transport gets smarter. The report covers the findings of these surveys including international trends in terms of current usage, equipment, regulations, positive effects as well as potential barriers using the technology.

We sat down with Patrik Anderson, Director of Business Development in Transport, from Axis Communications, to get his view on the results shared in this paper.

What did you find most interesting about the results of the 2017-2018 survey results in comparison to the 2015 results?

I found it personally very interesting that those using video surveillance, both within large public transport organisations, as well as externally between other parties, has grown so clearly in the last three years.

Sharing of live (and recorded) video to create a common operating picture really helps all stakeholders make more informed decisions during an incident. With large organisations now helping each in this way, it has a direct benefit in promoting fast collaboration and thereby contributing to more positive incident outcomes.

Could you explain how the technology behind video surveillance has changed in the past few years and how you imagine it will develop in the future?

Video surveillance as a technology has progressed a lot in its digitalisation journey.

Video surveillance as a technology has progressed a lot in its digitalisation journey.

Image quality has improved in resolution, but also in coping with very difficult or changing lighting conditions when little light is available, or when light and shadow contrasts are big.

Moving forward, the image quality improvements will of course remain and continue to make evolutions, but we will also see other smarter elements to help automate the detection of incidents using video and audio analytics. Simplified, I think the industry will continue its digitalisation journey but now also add automation of helping certain events. By using this, public transport is getting smarter.

The surge in uptake of analytics is one of the main takeaways of the report. In your expert opinion, what do you think are some of the possible factors that have influenced this?

We have seen in the survey results that public transport surveillance systems have grown significantly over the last three years by thousands of cameras, and we have also seen more cameras in more places than before. This points to a rapidly growing benefit for public transport.

However, a long-lasting issue for us humans is the lack of capacity to overlook thousands of video feeds. We can concentrate for limited amounts of time for (in this perspective) too few locations in a transport system.

Therefore, we need decision-making support, helping us to know where to look and when. This is where video analytics (and audio analytics) have proven to contribute to making the shift from post event analysis to real-time surveillance. The video and audio analytics industries have recently experienced some very interesting technological break-throughs in using new advancements in image and audio analysis and artificial intelligence called “deep learning”. The possibilities to “train” neural networks look promising for the future advancements of activating surveillance systems using image and audio analysis.

video analytics (and audio analytics) have proven to contribute to making the shift from post event analysis to real-time surveillance 

As far as cybersecurity goes, what advice do you have to give to the sector to protect their technology and digital devices from cyber-attacks?

Cybersecurity is not a static concept. Change is constant, so to speak. Modern digital surveillance cameras are Internet of Things (IOT) devices, with a computing processing power and are put on networks. All this needs to be carefully designed. In the event of a cybersecurity attack, the main target may be to create loss of operation, loss of safety or loss of revenue, and not target the surveillance system itself. However, when and if that happens, video surveillance is one of the instrumental tools to create an operating picture of the public transport environment and all passengers inside. So it is more important in these situations than ever. Axis recommends three layers of cybersecurity protection:
Security Management - apply appropriate security controls according to the threats you face and your level of risk.
Vulnerability management - best practices in design and development, transparency around vulnerabilities and timely response help protect you.
Learning and collaboration - we collaborate with our partners and discover practical tools. They’ll help you understand the threats you face and how to counter them.

To find out more on this, please visit

Axis and UITP have just released the extended report, complementary to the Statistics Brief. What kind of information can our readers find here in addition to what’s shared in the Statistics Brief?

The full report is divided into multiple chapters covering surveillance from different angles, including equipment, usage, values, analytics and more.

In addition to the data highlighted in the Statistics Brief, the report provides a holistic view on video surveillance in public transport and includes some brand-new research elements that were not previously included. I think readers have something really nice to look forward to!


Download the Full Report here!

Check out the Statistics Brief here!

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