More cameras, new IOC en route.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is in the midst of increasing security in a big way.
In the wake of the success from cameras on its 500-plus buses, MARTA is planning to install 1,600 additional cameras in two phases on its 330 train cars and at 38 stations, according to Monty Montgomery, emergency preparedness unit coordinator.
A trial of the train cameras from Apollo Video Technology will begin in June and will run for up to 40 days allowing MARTA and AVT to tweak the system as needed, Montgomery said. After that, MARTA will go into further installation on its trains.
MARTA is also is building a new Integrated Operations Center in Dunwoody, just north of the city. For the first time, and with a “huge video wall,” transit police and other relevant law enforcement agencies will be incorporated into one area with the goal of increasing communication and response times in emergencies, Montgomery said during the ASIS 2014 Media Tour.
The nation’s ninth largest transit system’s buses already have on-board analog cameras from AVT along with cameras at its stations for a total of 1,200. Approval for installing those cameras was a hard sell, but the ROI has been huge, Montgomery said.
Bus drivers, at first hesitant about the cameras, have come to appreciate them because attacks on drivers have fallen, with that most recent drop at 7 percent, Montgomery said.
Crime rates in general on the bus routes have come down, too, he said, and “we’ve seen a precipitous drop in false claims,” such as those where someone said, “This bus ran over my foot.” False claims can be disproved with the camera footage. The actual numbers haven’t been quantified yet but are in the works, he said, but they have come down.
“MARTA is safer,” he said, noting that even local mainstream media has written about that.
The bus cameras are analog but are automatically downloaded to digital footage when a bus nears a garage.
Drivers also have emergency call buttons, which give police instant access to video for an even grater tactical advantage, Montgomery said.
The current cameras are part of the Atlanta Police Department’s Video Integration System. The VIC also incorporates municipal cameras and cameras from the Atlanta airport, local college campuses, businesses, apartment and shopping complexes, and neighborhood associations, among others.
On the morning of the Media Tour visit, MARTA was preparing for an upcoming, full-scale emergency drill involving more than 30 law enforcement agencies over two counties. The Atlanta Police Department, FBI, DHS, Georgia Emergency Management, Georgia Department of Transportation and MARTA police, including its K-9 unit, Special Operations Response Team and bomb squad will participate, among other agencies.
MARTA’s K-9 unit consists of 15 dogs that can sniff out 14 different explosives; they train every day. Its mobile command center, the size of a bus, can patch in different radio feeds from various agencies. Its bomb squad includes a robot and a containment vessel.
Last year, MARTA received a “Gold Standard” rating from the TSA, based on the TSA’s Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement.