TransLink is responsible for planning, financing and managing transportation modes and services in the Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, region. The company needed a security surveillance solution to enhance operations and revenue for SkyTrain, its urban rapid transit system. Since SkyTrain operates driverless automated trains, remote video monitoring is critical to supervising and maintaining safe and efficient operations. Key components of the existing video system were proprietary and reaching end of life, which made upgrading to new technology more difficult. With stringent and intricate operational needs, the company's request for proposal outlined its operational requirements rather than its technological requirements. Tyco Integrated Security responded with a security solution that matched SkyTrain's desire to: maintain many of the same operational procedures; leverage existing cameras; and implement an integrated video system that would keep them compatible with its forthcoming network investment.

Project Scope

SkyTrain transports more than 200,000 passengers a day along 49 km of elevated track through 33 stations. TransLink required video surveillance system enhancements to replace SkyTrain's proprietary 880-camera CCTV system, yet wanted to leverage as much of the old system as possible. The project also required that SkyTrain's Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) procedures remain relatively unchanged to minimize training challenges and operational disruptions during the upgrade.


TransLink's existing, proprietary video surveillance system was in need of an upgrade to allow it to meet operational and security goals. As an automated light rapid transit system, many of SkyTrain's cost efficiencies are gained through unmanned stations that are monitored by video from its OMC. As its existing video surveillance system became more time intensive to manage, the efficiencies gained through automation had declined - they had to send personnel to the stations to retrieve video or resolve maintenance issues. The existing system, based on analog video matrix switchers deployed throughout the system, was also still utilizing VCR and early DVR technology. With an interest in controlling costs and minimizing disruptions, SkyTrain's management had a number of operational requirements that a new video system would have to meet. First, the system needed to leverage as much existing equipment as possible. Second, the procedures followed in the OMC to retrieve video from the various stations had to remain unchanged in order to eliminate training challenges of its staff. Third, they needed a system that would initially operate on their limited network yet have the capability of allowing for future transition to digital technology


As there was very limited network capability between stations, the implemented solution had to allow for analog feeds to be transmitted from each station via an existing fiber link back to the SkyTrain OMC. Tyco Integrated Security configured an IP video surveillance solution that was installed in partnership with SkyTrain's own technical team. Since the network infrastructure was not capable of allowing IP streaming of video back to the OMC, a solution was implemented that utilized localized IP video systems at each station. This solution retained the ability to transmit analog video back to the primary viewing location, while at the same time allowing Sky Train to move quickly to upgrade to a system ready made for compatibility to its future investment in a digital network


The IP video technology was used to upgrade the existing analog matrix/VCR CCTV system and provide a scalable solution meeting SkyTrain's video recording and future surveillance needs. Choosing the flexibility of an IP video system enabled SkyTrain to leverage most of its original investment in the existing CCTV equipment, while creating a platform for growth. While twenty one replacement pan/tilt/zoom cameras were installed, the remainder of the original 880 cameras was reused. At each of the 33 stations, the cameras were connected to transmitter/receiver units and network video recorders (NVRs), which replaced slaved matrix switches and a combination of video tape recorders and digital video recorders. The transmitter/receiver units convert the analog camera signal to high-quality MPEG-4 digital video for transmission over the local IP network at each station. The stand-alone NVRs provide advanced recording facilities for each camera stream

Three receiver modules were placed on the network at each station. These convert three selected streams from the network to analog for transmission to the OMC replicating the older systems use of the analog tie-lines back to the OMC and integrating into the primary matrix switch and video wall configuration. The OMC sends PTZ data and camera switching information across the IP network to each station to control the cameras and select the three camera feeds for display

With SkyTrain requiring the retention of its analog transmission of video, they had to retain their primary matrix switch at the OMC as well. In order for the components of the system to work together as needed, new control centre software was implemented to operate the matrix switch as well as features such as salvo control of video switching onto the video wall, and pan tilt zoom control. In addition, a custom feature was developed to allow the protection of an entire station's recorded video followed by the low bandwidth streaming of the recorded IP video back to the OMC investigative workstations

Once the network upgrade is completed, the analog transmission devices at the stations may be relocated to the OMC to eliminate the need for the matrix switch and enable station to OMC full IP video streaming. At such time, there can be either hardware decoding of video to the existing video wall, or the potential for an entirely software/computer processor-driven video wall


The flexibility of IP video is allowing SkyTrain to benefit from the power of a fully networked system even before a network upgrade. The OMC operators maintained their existing process of interacting with the video system. This was imperative as the operators rapidly utilize the video system to help manage the operation of unmanned trains and stations. System customization enabled operators to utilize exactly the same key strokes through the Control Centre keyboards as they used when they directly interacted with the matrix switch

In the future, when the network is upgraded, then the real potential of the IP video system can be realized including the transmission of high-quality live and recorded digital video from all cameras in the system back to the OMC and the deployment of a true virtual matrix. Operators with the necessary clearance will be able to view video from any camera, live or recorded, at any point on the network, i.e., at the OMC or at any station. Additionally, real-time analytics can be deployed to provide automatic display of camera feeds as events occur and additional cameras can be added to any point on the network without the addition of costly analog video cabling

To learn more about how Tyco Integrated Security Transportation & Logistics can help your business, please contact 1-866-865-4728, or visit us at  Tyco Integrated Security