When things go wrong in the transportation sector – be it theft, a terrorist attack, a physical disaster – the ability to consolidate a lot of business critical data is vital to resolving situations quickly and efficiently and in the best way possible – i.e., in a way that lowers risk to lives and assets. This is driving a global trend among transportation companies and operators to centralise critical information across multiple sites and integrate core systems and data.
Johnson Controls has implemented integrated building management and security solutions at more than 14 international airports, including Cape Town International Airport. Its most recent win is a $75 million contract to secure Qatar airport. It also has a presence in the world’s rail, road and sea transport hubs.
Says Neil Cameron, GM of Johnson Controls Systems & Service Africa: “The global move in the transportation sector to create enterprise level data across disparate security and information systems has been led by the emergence of smart technologies built on open systems that make integration at this level simple to achieve cost effectively. The benefits are significant.
“By putting in place a single platform from which critical security systems – CCTV cameras, fire alarms, access control and other building utility and information systems – can simultaneously be monitored, and responses to ‘situations’ be infinitely more informed, efficiency and efficacy are achieved. In addition, best practices are built in – identified at implementation and configured to automatically alert relevant individuals and authorities, so that when a situation occurs, staff on the ground know how to handle it.
For example, if a traveller suffers a heart attack or other medical emergency, the integrated control platform can issue key information like who to call to get medical personnel or emergency vehicles or equipment to the scene. It sounds simple, but knowing who to call in a medical emergency at any of 100 different route stops can save a life. Similarly, if a CCTV camera or other equipment is in need of maintenance and repair, the system will identify who to call – and follow up to ensure the job gets done. If it does not, the problem is escalated to the right authority within the organisation, closing the door to opportunists who would exploit a weak link in the security system.
“This level of security and disaster response efficiency is increasingly important as global terror campaigns are stepped up, preventable disasters (derailment and airplane disasters) are shown for what they are, and customers (travellers and owners of goods in transport) demand transport owners and operators act responsibly and be accountable. This means having the equipment, systems and best practices in place to resolve situations quickly and effectively… no matter where the people, assets or goods in transit are on the transport routes.”
Johnson Controls’ integrated enterprise control system makes this possible, using the systems already in place. “In real terms what Johnson Controls will do is assess the systems and equipment in place (asset audit), help the client identify strategic priority items to integrate, and do the integration making use of proven solutions that are suited to the task. The result is an integrated platform governed by an intelligent software layer that responds to alerts triggered by security systems (CCTV and access control), and is informed by business critical systems (fire detection, weather patterns, crime databases, ticketing systems and route schedules).”
Staff do need to be trained, however. “What the transport company wants is a high level of alertness and high speed efficient response by staff to incidents – regardless of where they occur. The enterprise value system, or platform, offers that. It makes available a checklist for each situation which contains procedure and process instructions and relevant information. This centralised control also makes possible reports on time-to-resolution of challenges. These metrics are valuable to identify areas of improvement, or where process or practice changes are required. In an inquiry, these reports also prove the level of accountability and speed of response of the transport entity.”
Generally, the more centralised control is, the easier it is to run things. A logical solution is to create control centres at the busiest locations and then, at quiet times, devolve control to a single ‘night duty’ control system, suggests Cameron. Implementation can take up to three months or more, depending on the complexity and scope of the systems to be integrated. However, a phased approach can be taken. “Organisations should address the most pressing risks first, then expand the solution to incorporate more sites and systems,” he advises.
Locally, transport sector organisations do not have much in place to ensure that accidents, disasters or everyday opportunism is dealt with in an optimised way. Notes Cameron: “The value of physical assets moving along routes or moving through hubs can be hard to determine. Insuring these goods is generally the responsibility of the sender or receiver of the goods. However, securing those goods – and people — is possibly much more important for transport route owners and operators if they want to be seen to be acting responsibly and ensure a continued flow of business through their hubs.”