Daily monitoring, predictive maintenance and inspections keep security cameras functioning properly


Records show 94-99 percent of security camera systems working

TriMet uses a mix of strategies to keep the security camera systems on buses, MAX trains and platforms working well. We have automated health monitors on most vehicles and perform predictive maintenance and inspections on a regular basis. Daily monitoring and use also help us keep an eye on the camera system that is keeping an eye out for those who do wrong on the transit system. While the cameras are mechanical devices and will experience issues at time, our efforts are paying off with recent records analyses showing the cameras are functioning at a rate of 94-99 percent.

Automated health monitors provide daily check

TriMet’s 549 buses equipped with cameras have health monitors that check the status of the camera system – cameras, video recorder and removable hard drive (also referred to as a data pack). A readout display that is visible to the operator will display an alert if something is wrong. Each night, service workers check the health monitor and if an alert exists, they write up a work order for the camera system. In most instances, a technician will fix any issue within 24 hours or before the bus goes back into service next.

On the MAX system, the newest light rail vehicles, the Type 4s as we refer to them, also have “health” monitoring equipment. As with the monitor on buses, these check the status of the cameras, recorder and data pack. Any error will display on the dashboard in front of the operator. The operator will then report it to TriMet’s Command Operations Control Center.

Predictive maintenance equals a more strategic approach

TriMet employs the practice of predictive maintenance, which helps to reduce unscheduled downtime and maximize performance, not just for camera systems but for all aspects of our transit operation. Predictive maintenance is based on use not on time or the age of the component.

For our camera systems, we use the manufacturers’ and American Public Transportation Association (APTA) maintenance recommendations as guidelines. We then augment them with usage and repair data to determine inspection and maintenance schedules. Such predictive maintenance can reduce operational costs, improve productivity and increase efficiency. Think of it as changing the oil on your car every 3,000 miles rather than every three months.

Camera systems on buses are inspected and maintained every 12,000 miles, which comes out to about every two to three months.

The external cameras on our 105 older light rail vehicles, what we refer to as Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3, are serviced every 4,500 miles, or about every three and a half weeks. At that time and any time a train goes into the shop for any type of maintenance, the internal cameras are also checked before the vehicle returns to service.

The 22 Type 4s require maintenance less frequently, every 9,000 miles. As with the other vehicles, the internal cameras are also checked at that time and whenever a vehicle goes into the shop.

In addition, more in-depth maintenance is performed on a light rail vehicle’s entire camera system every 40,500 miles. That’s about every eight months.

Data retrievals add to inspections

Data retrievals provide an alternative method for verifying that the camera systems are functioning correctly. On-board camera systems include a removable hard drive or what we refer to as a data pack. The data pack captures video from the security cameras on a vehicle.

Data pack (hard drive) pulls
  Yearly Daily average
Buses 7,450 8.6
Light Rail Vehicles 3,547 4

TriMet crews remove data packs to retrieve video at a high rate. In a nearly 28-month period fromJanuary 1, 2012 through April 24, 2014, data packs were pulled on buses 7,450 times and on light rail vehicles 3,547. That averages to about eight a day on buses and four a day on light rail vehicles.

When data packs are retrieved, inspections are done and the video is viewed, confirming the working order of the entire camera system – cameras, video recorder and data pack. Video from the camera systems is retrieved for possible claims made against the agency, police investigations, internal investigations and other reasons.

Networked cameras status verified through use and inspections

TriMet staff and police use networked cameras at fixed locations, such as platforms, just about daily, verifying their status. TriMet personnel conduct monthly remote inspections by pulling up cameras on monitors to assure views and functionality. Field crews also perform hands on preventative maintenance inspections every month, and a more in-depth analysis on an annual basis.

If a networked, fixed-location camera goes down or a problem is identified during an inspection, it is repaired within 24 hours.

TriMet dedicated to keep cameras working

Our mission at TriMet is to provide a safe and secure environment for our riders and our employees. The security cameras are one of the tools our Transit Police officers and TriMet staff use to achieve that. We regularly inspect and maintain our security cameras and we are confident in our extensive network of cameras, which have proven effective time and time again with the identification, capture and prosecution of those who commit crime on the system.