Security on mass-transit systems should be a daily priority, like in airports, they add, suggesting that subway stations do not have to be soft terrorist targets.
Of course, commuters expectations that public transit take them a few miles with minimal inconvenience makes it impossible to implement in subways the strict screening that exists in airports.
But the need is great. More than 10.2 billion trips were taken on public transit in 2009. Yet in the first-ever quadrennial security review released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month, subways are mentioned only once in the 108-page report. As outlined in that report, the most severe threat facing any transportation system is a weapon of mass destruction such as a nuclear device or a biological weapon.
Common-sense steps and new technologies can make mass-transit safer. Here are five ways:
1. Gaming technologT
It may sound like something from a Jason Bourne movie but some mass-transit systems, especially in Europe, are using so-called “gaming technology” to turn intelligence into preventing terrorist attacks.
Gaming technology uses an array of hardware, software, and fast processor speeds. It records a scene in real time using 360-degree photography and immersive video – allowing for recording of every direction at the same time. It also often includes global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial guidance systems (IGS) for tracking and positioning information.
If the computer picks up on a possible situation – say, a passenger has a dirty bomb or a bioweapon – a series of actions will occur. The train’s driver will be notified, the entrance and exits doors may electronically be opened or closed depending on the situation.
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