Enhancing Transit Safety and Security with Wireless Detection and Communication Technologies

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, planning - signage/information


Cost effectiveness, Detection and identification systems, Field tests, Intrusion detection, Microelectromechanical systems, Proof of concept, Public transit, Real time information, Remote sensing, Security, Technological innovations, Transit safety, Wireless communication systems


Public transportation systems are among the most open public facilities in the world and susceptible to breaches of security. Reconciling the need for workplace safety and security with budgetary pressures requires new approaches to increase the effectiveness of existing solutions while preserving flexibility and low costs. An inexpensive sensor-based intrusion detection system that remotely monitors and notifies on- and/or off-site personnel of any incidents can significantly multiply the observational effectiveness of a few onsite safety or security personnel monitoring a facility. The advancement in the miniaturization of circuits has produced small computing devices allowing the development of pervasive applications that only a few years ago were not possible. The combination of such devices with wireless networks and micro-electro-mechanical systems technology provides a new platform for research and development of innovative monitoring applications. This project developed a low-cost, scalable, real-time intrusion detection and remote notification system called WSN-IRNS, using wireless sensor networks with the purpose of enhancing the safety and security of transit facilities. WSN-IRNS provides a cost-effective alternative or supplement to traditional wired security systems for protecting vulnerable areas and facilities such as garages, tunnels, and transit yards. The Internet-connected system supports real-time intervention by notifying personnel upon the detection of an intrusion through multimedia messages, which can include captured camera images that are delivered directly to mobile phones. Field tests have successfully demonstrated the proof-of-concept of the system, although adjustments and fine tuning of system parameters will be needed for environment-specific installations.