The Spokane Transit Authority (STA) provides transportation service to 248 square miles in the Spokane metropolitan area. They operate from two garage sites:
Administration and Operations Building near downtown Spokane which contains the main “Bus Barn”, mechanic shop, administrative facilities and para-transit garage.
A smaller facility located in Spokane Valley. STA operates over 40 fixed bus routes, 12 park and ride lots, and a central hub passenger waiting and transfer facility named The Plaza in downtown Spokane.
Every successful security solution consists of a combination of three pieces: people, processes, and technology. When a single piece is out of alignment, it threatens the effectiveness of the entire solution. When your organization relies on that solution to provide value not just to security, but to the operations of the organization, this alignment becomes a critical business strategy. One organization that knows the importance of this alignment is Spokane Transit Authority (STA).
Since 1987, STA has used video surveillance to support security and police in responding to events, but the system is used for more than just gathering evidence. The system is used to monitor employee safety within the “bus barn” and mechanical areas of STA’s facilities as well as to guide bus drivers to clear entrances and bays, allowing vehicles to move in and out of the facility in a safer , more efficient manner. To STA, the video surveillance system has become more than just a security system, it is a integral part of daily operations.
So in 2009 when STA decided to upgrade from an outdated analog system to an IP system, this decision was bound to affect the entire organization.
When the project began, a proprietary Video Management System (VMS) was selected based on the manufacturer’s reputation and STA’s existing network infrastructure and procurement history. While the original VMS chosen claimed the features STA desired, upon implementation of the product, STA quickly discovered that the platform did not integrate with the features of its preferred cameras. Specifically, the VMS did not support the camera’s motion capture capabilities in a way that would align with the desired method of monitoring video, a vital feature for the surveillance system.
STA was faced with a dilemma. The original technology chosen did not align with the processes in place within the organization and would prevent STA’s people from using the technology in ways they relied upon.
This dilemma created a difficult choice: keep implementing the chosen technology and find a way to work around the limitation by changing the organization’s processes, or discard the current technology choice and pick another technology that would better integrate with the existing processes and technology.
To compound the problem, Spokane was soon to host the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships (and the selection of the Olympic team). As the primary transportation provider for the event and with their downtown facility, The Plaza, being used as a key transportation hub, having an operational video surveillance system to support security was critical for this 10 day event.
ASG’s recommended that STA replace the original VMS solution with another technology using an open platform and robust camera compatibility list. Because this new VMS supported the motion capture capabilities of STA’s preferred camera, the new VMS was able to provide STA with that critical alignment between the processes already in place and the technology used to support them.
ASG began the cut over from the original VMS to the new technology with the 45 cameras at STA’s Administration and Operations Building. The cut over was completed by the middle of the first day and training on the new system began that afternoon.
Due to the speed and seamless nature of the transition, The Plaza was converted and training began on the new VMS just in time to monitor traffic for the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating
By choosing an open rather than proprietary technology, STA was able to integrate a wider variety of technology into its surveillance solution. This allowed STA’s people to use the system in alignment with the organization’s existing business processes.
In addition to that critical alignment between people, processes, and technology, the IP-based solution allows STA to take advantage of a number of benefits including:
The system is 100% compatible with the IP cameras in place
The system can easily be expanded to cover their 12 Park & Ride locations
Security Staff can now easily research events, create clips for evidence, and review video for security and safety purposes without the need to manually review hours of taped footage
Higher resolution cameras allow for better recognition of vehicles, license plates, and faces
Motion capture capabilities ensure that the system is not recording hours and hours of nothing
Storage was increased from a 12-hour tape to 14-day storage and eliminated the work required to swap and archive VHS tape
STA has the ability to add a number of different types of cameras to the VMS should their needs change in the future