TIDS Progress Update – Live Platform Testing

TIDS Progress Update – Live Platform Testing

TIDS Progress Update – Live Platform Testing

Since the last update back in July, we are pleased to announce that the TIDS hardware has successfully been installed onsite at the first of our trial stations. For the next 5 months, the TIDS system will remain in place to assess both its accuracy and how effective the audible deterrent is.

Currently the system is being run without the audible deterrent element in order to ascertain the accuracy of the trespass detection element.  For the duration of the test phase there will be an ongoing process of minimising the frequency of false positives via the alteration of parameters in the software, as well as experimentation with both the “restricted regions” (the areas of trespass detection) and “blanking regions” (the areas where detection does not occur).  If needs be alterations can be made to the physical camera set up in order to capture the key areas of trespass.

As we head into the winter months we will also be able to establish the efficiency of the system in more volatile weather conditions, where detection may be more difficult as a result of changes in light and visibility.

A second installation will soon be under way at the station at a second test site to undergo a similar test set up until the middle of next year.  Once the initial live test phase is complete we will use the findings from the trial to further develop the functionality of the anti-trespass deterrent and how it alerts station staff to trespass events. We will also be looking at developing TIDS as a marketable product.

Keep an eye on the blog for future updates on how the system is coping with the pressures of a live environment.

Update: Second Site Installation

The system has since successfully been installed at the second test site and the testing process is now under way.

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Exposed to the Elements: Trespass Identification and Deterrent System (TIDS) is put to the Test

Exposed to the Elements: Trespass Identification and Deterrent System (TIDS) is put to the Test

Exposed to the Elements: Trespass Identification and Deterrent System (TIDS) is put to the Test

Last year we announced our participation in an SBRi funding call from Network Rail to produce a system aimed at reducing trespass across the UK rail network. Since then, alongside the continued development of the software element behind the system, we have been busy working on our preparation for the upcoming onsite testing period.

Alterations to Hardware Set Up

In our original outline the plan was to install a pole to which the different pieces of hardware could be attached. Following surveys of the two sites the plan was altered so that the detection equipment would instead be fitted to one of the gantry’s already in place.

Where the original pole installation accounted for the protection of equipment from potential weather and public damage, this was not the case with new gantry plan. There was also a need to minimise the number of separate “installations” to obtain permission for live site testing.

As a solution to the new problem, one of our engineers produced designs for an enclosure that would hold all of the detection equipment, including the camera and speaker. Not only would this provide the necessary level of protection, but would also reduce the number of installations to one.

SOAK Testing

Currently we are undertaking something a bit new to us here at Zircon, with access to the finished casing we have started the process of SOAK testing the final system set up. Up to this point the system has been only been run and tested within the comfort of an office environment, however before it goes into the more volatile environment of an active station we need to have confidence in its ability to run constantly for the duration of the live testing phase regardless of the conditions. This means detecting incidents and running the deterrent regardless of light level and varying weather conditions.

You may have also noticed from the CAD drawings that there are there are gaps in the casing to permit air to flow around the casing to allow for ventilation and to prevent overheating in the CPU’s. The obvious downside to this layout is that it does present an opportunity for moisture to enter or build up within the casing. As a means to prevent water damage each component that makes up the system is IP66 rated and we have ensured that any water that does build up within the casing can drain out of the base. Ensuring that these measures are effective will be another element during this stage of testing.

As you can probably tell we may not have a fancy lab or test site in which to conduct this process, however this has not got in the way of progress. In the last couple of weeks the British weather has stayed true to its reputation and thrown pretty much all it can at us, swinging from beautiful sunshine and heat to heavy rain and humidity. We are pretty pleased to say that, so far under the watchful eye of one of our engineers and their family, there has been no break in the system’s ability to detect intrusions into the defined incursion areas.

As stated previously, this step in the preparation process also provides a means for us to ensure that low light levels will have no impact on the accuracy of detection and sounding of the deterrant system. In order to allow for detection without a light source, the system is has infrared capabilities and we need to establish how this change in image quality could impact detection. So far we have discovered that the system seems to be much more sensitive once the change to infrared occurs. With this in mind we are working on finding the correct level of balance between accurate detection in the two extreme levels of light.

Unexpected Test Helps to Prove The Detection Capability

When you test in a controlled environment like an office it is all to easy to subconciously make sure the system is set up in a way that allows for the best results or, when working with video analytics, to behave in a specific manner that you know the system will be able to pick up on. This is a big part of why we are taking as many steps as we can in the testing of TIDS, to be sure that it will be a system that can be trusted. So it is always nice when you get to have a third party come in to run a test of their own. One of the engineers on the TIDS project was in for quite a suprise one weekend, when he recieved a notification of unauthorised incursion from the unit still located at our office in Trowbridge. Luckily it was not a burglar breaking in, but one of the cleaners happily going about his duties.

The Next Steps

Realistically the next big step forward for the TIDS solution will be it’s installation on an active platform. Currently our aim is to obtain all of the permissions to allow for placement by the end of July with the system set to run for several months. This testing phase should help us establish the effectiveness of the deterrent and give us guidance on how to further improve the system.

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Network Rail and Innovate UK released the Innovation in Railway platform end and edge technology funding call through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRi) in December 2019. It is known that trespass on the railway causes a significant disruption to the operation and thus, the general public. Trespass can happen for a variety of reasons, for example, short-cuts, fare evasion, vandalism, suicide and theft. Figures recently published by Network Rail reveal that within the first month of lockdown alone, passenger and freight trains were disrupted 1,024 times which resulted in over 380 hours of delays, most of these likely to be carrying essential medical supplies and supermarket produce. Notwithstanding the operational delays, the estimated cost of trespass across the UK Network is more than £500million, however, as not all incidents are detected, the actual cost is expected to be much greater. Therefore, this competition aims to build a system capable of not only detecting trespass but to act as a deterrent to reduce the impact of these incidents on the railway.

As Zircon Software has a wealth of experience in developing high-integrity, safety-related applications within the rail industry, we felt best placed to submit a proposal to meet the aims of the competition.

The awarded consortium consists of Zircon Software, Pragmatex, and The University of Southampton who in conjunction will develop the Trespass Identification and Deterrent System (TIDS).

TIDS is a fully autonomous, off-grid CCTV solution designed to run autonomously and detect and deter trespassers on the network. Its unique modular design allows it to be installed in a variety of environments, take advantage of the existing infrastructure where possible, and be deployed in close proximity to the incident ‘hotspots’ identified by Network Rail.

The system uses unique video analytics built upon from previous Zircon’s projects. The most relevant being the Platform Train Interface (PTI) camera which was installed at London Victoria Underground Station for 6 months in 2017. The PTI camera detected passenger interaction and intrusion from the platform to the track. Other notable uses of Zircon’s video analytics have been for asset detection, location accuracy and passenger drag detection, all of which have been tested on the railway.

The University of Southampton will research the novel deterrent aspect to establish the most effective to discourage trespass. However, previous studies conducted in Europe of basic sound deterrents reduced trespass by up to 44%. The system also takes into account UK GDPR, whereby incidents are detected, but people are not uniquely identified, and data is only stored for a necessary amount of time. Co-operation with the British Transport Police (BTP) could see the system used for evidence in prosecutions, although that is not the initial purpose.

Further to the initial development phase, TIDS will be installed at Reading West and West Drayton both of which support the new Crossrail route from East London to Reading.

At these stations, TIDS is intended to:

  • reduce the number of trespassers on the Network,
  • mitigate the operational impact of delays,
  • improve the customer experience and
  • empower the station staff to conduct their role to the best of their ability, without focusing on incidents outside of the station.

In addition, TIDS will provide useful statistics to the operators and in future, could be used to analyze the exact nature of trespass.

All being well, and notwithstanding the current COVID-19 situation, you should see TIDS on the railway by the end of October 2020. Following the success of the 12-month demonstration period, we foresee the potential for TIDS to benefit a variety of other areas on the UK Network.

It is also worthwhile noting, that whilst Zircon is building the TIDS system, they are developing a similar system, the Smart Engineered Big Sister (SEBS) which again utilises video analytics but specifically to tackle challenges around platform security. The competition, also funded by SBRi, aims to detect scenarios such as anti-social behaviour, loitering, overcrowding and miscellaneous abandoned objects. The long-term vision is that both SEBS and TIDS may be integrated to provide an all-encompassing intelligent security system covering the platform, the perimeter and individual track-side locations.

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Tried and Tested: Can Open Source Boost CCTV into the 21st Century?

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With funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, Zircon Software Ltd is working to find out whether security surveillance systems and associated analytics can work in a station environment without disrupting the rail network. To achieve this, Zircon are planning to utilise advanced video analytics, taking functional open source Machine Learning libraries wrapped in bespoke software, to boost the efficiency of established CCTV systems.

Though cameras produce streams of data while filming, the systems that sit behind them need modernising to keep up with the video capability that large scale CCTV operations can offer. Currently, video data is used as additional support for incidents that are witnessed on location. The Innovate UK challenge aims to develop a system capable of automatically detecting potential passenger/rail safety issues, intending to enhance manual control room activities and station security and safety as a whole. The vision is to have video data inform control room operators of potential problems as and even before they occur.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, Zircon engineers have begun the process of engineering a bespoke statistical analytics engine that will pull together some of the best open-source tools from successful Machine Learning projects, such as TensorFlow. Instead of imitating a Harry Potteresque invisibility cloak with this technology as the TensorFlow.js team have done, these technologies will be utilised to raise alerts and reports on behaviours such as loitering, abandoned objects and crowd trend analysis.

Zircon is expecting that the utilisation of successful open-source software and other suitable toolsets will greatly reduce the time required to bring a prototype into a reality, and will reliably reduce response times for dealing with incidents.

Though specific to the rail centre, there is some excitement surrounding the outcome of this challenge and its potential implications for other industry sectors with control room environments.

About the Competition

The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations.

Two new SBRIs have been announced to drive efficiency and safety in the rail industry. Network Rail will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £3m to address two of the objectives identified in Network Rail’s CP6 funding strategy for research and development:

  1. Automated tunnel examination
  2. Security surveillance analytics for stations

Zircon has won a place in the competition to develop a security surveillance analytics solution for stations.

This is the first phase of a 2-phase competition. In the first phase, companies are expected to develop and demonstrate their analytics system using pre-recorded data.

About Zircon Software Ltd

Founded in 2000, Zircon Software provides software engineering consultancy and development services to clients across industries that are characterised by the use of high availability/safety-critical systems and applications.

Our main focus is on helping our clients navigate their way through the process of developing their software products, regardless of whether they be embedded, PC or Cloud based, via our four key service areas:

  • Helping to build robust software solutions
  • Providing advice on how to improve software development capabilities
  • Assisting with the capture and recording of requirements
  • Helping clients ensure that their software products are built correctly according to specifications.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

For further information visit www.innovateuk.gov.uk.

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Hosted in Salisbury and running over the course of three days, 28th to 30th June, it is anticipated that this year will be the biggest Armed Forces Day National Event to be delivered in the UK to date.

We are honored to be a part of this prestigious event, and to be a part of the commemoration of all those men and women who serve, and have served, in our armed forces.

Armed Forces Day 2019 Logo

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End Of Year

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End Of Year

With the end of 2018 drawing closer, it is an opportunity to reflect upon all that has happened this year and look forward to what 2019 will bring.

This year has been a strong year for Zircon, as we continue to grow both in our customer base and our staff numbers. During that time we have continued with our primary goal which is to help our clients deliver and maintain their software products. Those products have varied enormously, ranging from Embedded Safety critical devices, PC based Control Centre systems, Web based structural monitoring systems through to innovative vision detection applications. It always surprises me when we review the projects we are involved in and the range of skills that we possess.

The year has also brought changes to our office, with a new open plan arrangement providing ample space for our increasing staff numbers, and most recently a much needed overhaul of our website. It’s an exciting time to be at Zircon as we continue to strive to be better each year!

The New Year brings with it some uncertainty as many businesses in the UK ponder what Brexit has to offer. At Zircon however, we will continue to focus on bringing high quality value for money Software Engineering services to help our clients deal with whatever happens.

All that remains is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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