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California City Brings IoT to Buses

Montebello is capturing sensor data and video footage from each of its moving buses in real time, which can also be viewed historically, with video linked to sensor data, time and GPS location, making reported incident investigation faster and easier.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 10, 2019

Investigating incident reports on city buses poses a challenge for municipal transit and security offices, even if there are cameras recording 24-7. Although many agencies have cameras in place to surveille a public area, including on public transit, identifying footage of a reported incident can be time-consuming, especially if an individual knows only the general time or route at which it happened.

To address this challenge and to gain additional bus-specific intelligence, the City of Montebello, in southern California, is employing an Internet of Things (IoT)-based system to capture and enable the tracking of video coverage, linked to location data, inside and around each of its 72 buses. With the technology in place, explains David Tsuen, the city's IT manager, Montebello employees can capture video as an incident occurs and receive alerts about potential problems, as well as view historical data linked to a particular time and place. This enables the city to better investigate security issues.

David Tsuen
The technology, which was taken live three months ago, consists of video cameras employing an IoT network provided by Stream IT, with the underlying video and IoT data-storage infrastructure supplied by Cloudian. Jon Toor, the technology company's CMO, says the data is available as the buses move around their route, based on a long-term evolution (LTE) cellular connection, and is hosted on Cloudian's server.

"This is a cloud-derived technology," Toor says, "that we're using in the city's data center." The technology ensures the video flows reliably from a moving object to a data center, he adds, and storing data with embedded metadata allows users to easily index and find information. Initially, however, the project began with simply trying to capture data from on-bus video cameras in real time, rather than after a vehicle was returned to its garage at the end of the day.

Montebello is a Los Angeles County city that serves eight million bus passengers annually. Tsuen wanted to deploy a system that would help the city to address accidents, issue incident reports and protect it from litigations when possible. The city sought instant access to video, whether in real time or historically. "What we're trying to do is reshape security," he states, by capturing data in real time and enabling the sharing of information with other agencies or communities. "There was a huge learning curve," he adds, and the solution required four years of research, testing and development.

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