Funds Flow To Secure Mass Transit Systems

Recent bombings on rail systems, however, are causing more funds to flow to state and local governments charged with securing mass transit systems. That presents new opportunities to the channel to work with rail operators, who to date have been left on their own to develop solutions and evaluate existing and emerging technologies.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the eight largest mass transit rail systems in the country have been awarded $103 million in security grant assistance this year, and additional awards totaling about $110 million will be made in coming months. State and local governments can also tap into various grant programs for rail security projects and initiatives.

"DHS has been trying to find out if it's even possible to protect the trains," says Brian Andrew, CEO at Brijot Imaging Systems, a manufacturer based in Orlando, Fla. "The process is very different than airports, with masses of people in a small area at one time. Airport technology is not appropriate because it interrupts the flow."

Brijot's BIS-WDS Prime product relies on the radio frequencies transmitted from the body to provide full-motion, automated detection of potential bombs hidden beneath clothing. The technology is unobtrusive, detecting radio waves in the environment via a 90-GHz receiver.

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At this point, many of the initiatives are just getting way, with government entities investigating security measures and testing the effectiveness of various solutions. In April, for example, the Transportation Security Administration, in partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration, announced a Mobile Security Checkpoint four-week pilot program to screen passengers and their bags riding the area commuter rail, MARC, for explosive material. The technology used included metal and X-ray explosives detectors.

More recently the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) installed Brijot's technology, which first became available in January, at a Jersey City, N.J., station of the PATH transit system as part of a two-week pilot program by DHS.

Such programs could spell opportunity for the channel as they transform into actual implementations that require integration with existing systems and ongoing management services.

"The channel can take our product and incorporate it into larger security solutions," Andrew says. "I'm a radio man; I'm not a security expert. That's where we'll need to look to partners."