When I was working as a product manager for the number 2 switching vendor in the world and the Philippines, I had a conversation with one of the solutions engineer from Singapore about the state of our public transportation. It was 2008 and the world was still recovering from the 2005 London and 2006 Mumbai train bombings.He was telling me about a project he was working on with the Singapore government in connection with their public trains. The objective of the project was to heighten the security of the trains by monitoring it real-time from the inside. Back then, it was easy to monitor the activities on the stations because analog CCTV cameras can be installed with no effort on stationary places. However, the challenge was to install the same kinds of devices in a place that is in-motion like the insides of the train.
They were able to implement this eventually (it took quite a while because there was a
debate whether the Ministry of Transportation or the Ministry of Defense should fund the project) by installing IP CCTV’s of each train car and have these cameras capture and monitor videos which will be wirelessly beamed directly to a centralized control center in one of the train stations. How is this possible? Secure outdoor access points were installed every 100 meters along the train tracks and these access points connect to the CCTV cameras from the inside of the train. This was possible through the seamless capability of the CCTV cameras to connect from one access point to another. For example, CCTV A connects from AP A to AP B to AP C as it moves along the train tracks. Not only will this solution prevent petty crimes and apprehend petty criminals as soon as they alight the trains, it will also help in the quick apprehension of bombers (or potential bombers).
The video data is safe as the recording and storing of it is done remotely and not within the train itself. So in the unfortunate case of an explosion, the authorities can quickly refer to the recordings of the last few minutes before the explosion. Having his is information undoubtedly is a valuable piece of evidence that can spell the difference between a solved and an unsolved case.
Just imagine this being applied to our very own MRT and LRT lines 1 and 2. I believe that if other governments can do it, we can too. These wireless and surviellance security technologies is readily accessible to us. The only difference is our agencies do not have the political will to man-up, re-align their budgets and implement this. I know for a fact that certain wireless mesh networks are already in place in some of our major thoroughfares to monitor the traffic situation. MMDA and the NCRPO have invested in putting up metro-wide wireless mesh systems for specific reasons.
We can even stretch the application further to buses along EDSA who is willing to install IP CCTVs inside their buses. If some of the bus companies are starting to deliver in-transit WiFi access then why not implement an in-transit wireless surveillance system in place? Surely, passengers would much rather be assured of their safety than their capability to update their Facebook statuses. It is sad that incidents like the EDSA bus bombing, the LRT bombing, and the Quirino grandstand hostage crisis has to happen. Technological applications like this prove that they can be prevented and if not, justice could have been swiftly served.
Feel free to share other technological applications that could help in preventing acts of terrorism and apprehend their perpetrators.