It's the evening rush hour and a smoke detector has been triggered on a busy rail platform. A security operator receives an on-screen sensor alert on his console. A map pops up displaying the exact location of the alert and the nearby video camera. On-screen instructions tell the operator what to do next. He selects the camera to view live video of the scene and sees a small amount of smoke. Clicking a button on his screen, he immediately notifies transit patrol officers to the situation, via messages sent to their mobile devices. At the same time the security operator calls the fire department, while following additional procedures to ensure the safe evacuation of passengers from the platform. The fire department arrives in speedy fashion to extinguish the fire. Meanwhile, the Operation Control Center (OCC), automatically notified of the incident as well, is already broadcasting the platform change over the public address system. Redirected to the new train platform by OCC, the incoming train driver arrives on schedule and train service continues without disruption.

If this sounds like a futuristic scenario, think again. The technology necessary to fuse together disparate security systems and sensors, and streamline security and emergency operations isn’t far down the tracks. It's here today, and you can bet that in the coming year more transit agencies will be getting on board.

So what exactly is this technology, and why is it a hot trend in security for transit operations?

Historically, transit agencies have been quick to adopt technology of all types: access control systems, security and safety sensors, security video and video recording to name a few. With so much technology at their disposal, security teams have a lot of raw data. But can they easily distinguish what’s important from what’s not? Can they make sense of it all? Can they share information with the right people? Are they doing the right things at the right time – in every possible situation? As humans we tend to concentrate on the bigger picture instead of the fine detail, simply because the fine detail can be overwhelming – especially so in the control room, where the mass of data from so many disparate systems can be distracting.

Transit operations are finding a solution to this problem in situation management technology. Also known as PSIM, this technology arrived on the market a few years ago, and is finding favour for its ability to help security teams pre-plan, co-ordinate and manage responses to every imaginable emergency, security, safety and operational situation.

By integrating and correlating the many data feeds entering the control room, situation management helps security teams connect the dots for a holistic real-time view of their entire surveillance ecosystem. With pre-defined response plans that can be customized and embedded in the situation management solution, the technology can also ensure that security operators take the right action at the right time. Simply put, situation management can ensure that your entire security team knows what’s happening, where it is happening and what to do next – so you can plan appropriate responses for any situation, and execute those responses flawlessly when incidents do happen.