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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

The agency faced several challenges, and so the project was developed in multiple phases. "Solving the problem of how to get data from one location to another took two and a half years, alone," Tsuen recalls. The city met with a variety of technology companies, but it found few that were able to provide a solution that could offer the constant streaming of that much data from a moving bus. "Along the way," he says, "we realized we would need a lot of storage, on top of collecting videos and data." Tsuen says he wanted to add the intelligence of sensor data to create an intelligent security system.

Existing video surveillance systems in many cities fall far short of that goal, Tsuen notes. "Who sits down and looks at 20 monitors [in real time]?" he points out. Stream IT found a way to collect the data, and to help users easily find information in the system and to notify security personnel of potential issues even if they are away from their desk. Additionally, the city needs to be able to add more data storage as new sensors or cameras are deployed to increase the system's intelligence.

Jon Toor
Since no technology solutions were readily available, Tsuen says, the city's IT department began building its own system as a solution to security issues. He approached Stream IT, which helped him develop the software, using an IoT-based data-management system from Cloudian. The city started by installing 10 Mobotix cameras on one bus, then eventually added the technology to all vehicles. To get data from buses to the data center in real time, Cloudian and Stream IT provided an application programing interface (API) and an LTE connection to forward the information to the Cloudian server. Stream IT supplied the infrastructure and smart management software that not only facilitates video capture, but also allows users to search and replay video using data analytics.

Montebello wanted to access recorded video based on a given time or GPS-based location, and to be able to link other relevant data to the video recording, such as a vehicle's speed and brake application, as well as weather conditions, in order to gain greater context around an incident. Cloudian's software platform, therefore, captures both video footage and metadata that links video clips to a specific bus's ID number, as well as to GPS data, the date and time, and related conditions.

When an individual makes a claim—for instance, if he or she has slipped and fallen inside a bus at a specific time, on a particular route or in a certain part of the city—the system enables the city's security officers to search footage based on that information. The city can thus identify on which bus the reported incident occurred, and then view the relevant recording. That data can help the city to make its case when accidents are reported, and to defend itself in the event that charges prove to be fraudulent. "You can't argue with data," Tsuen points out.

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