Video surveillance cameras on buses will monitor accidents and incidents

Starting Jan. 16, all Lethbridge Transit vehicles, including school buses used to transport Lethbridge School District No. 51 students, will operate video surveillance cameras to help monitor accidents and incidents.

Transit video surveillance is considered to be industry standard and common in most urban centres. The City of Lethbridge has worked diligently to ensure the new system adheres to all Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Regulations (FOIP), as well as the City of Lethbridge surveillance policy.

All Transit vehicles will be equipped with surveillance cameras on both the inside and outside, which will begin recording whenever the bus is started. Each day, the information is recorded to the secure, on-board digital video recorder (DVR). When the bus returns to the Transit building, the recording is automatically transferred wirelessly to a secure server. This data is kept for one month and will only be reviewed by authorized City personnel in the case of an accident or incident.

Any requests for release of this data will be handled in accordance with FOIP. There will be no live monitoring of the cameras.

All buses will have signage notifying riders of the video surveillance.

According to the city, this new safety feature is expected to reduce crime and vandalism, and will also help identify issues that can be proactively addressed to protect the safety and wellbeing of students, as well as Transit staff.

VIDEO SURVEILLANCE ON LETHBRIDGE TRANSIT BUSES - FAQS

What are the benefits of adding video surveillance?

The addition of on-board Transit video surveillance cameras will help:

• Increase customer and employee confidence in regards to safety and security

• Detect and deter criminal activity

• Reduce vandalism and damage to transit vehicles resulting in decreased repair costs and fewer out-of-service buses

What about privacy?

The City of Lethbridge has worked diligently to ensure the new system adheres to all Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Regulations (“FOIPP”), as well as the City of Lethbridge surveillance policy.

We take personal privacy very serious and understand the need to balance an individual’s right to privacy with the need to keep our passengers and operators safe.

What areas of the bus does the video surveillance cover?

The new system involves the recording of images and audio on both the inside and the outside of the vehicles through multiple cameras. The recording is done from cameras at fixed locations. The number of cameras and locations vary depending on the size of the vehicle but in general includes:

• Exterior View: These camera views show vehicle and pedestrian activity in front of, beside and behind the bus, as well as bus mounted bike racks.

• Forward Cabin: These cameras provides viewing coverage of the entire length of the bus.

• Front Door: This camera provides a view of the front door, fare box and wheelchair ramp.

• Rear Door: This camera covers the rear exit door.

• Rear View: These cameras overlap the forward and mid-cabin cameras and captures the entire rear portion of the bus.

How does the system work?

The video surveillance system begins recording every time a bus is started. Data, including images and sounds, is stored in the secure on-board Digital Video Recorder (DVR) hard drive, and can only be accessed by authorized City personnel. The collected data will only be used for criminal, safety or security investigations; and as evidence for prosecutions, where required.

When a bus returns to the Transit building, the data will transfer wirelessly to a secure server. Protocols are in place to ensure only authorized City personnel have access to this information.  Any requests for release of this data will be handled in accordance with FOIP.

Do other Transit Systems use video surveillance?

Yes. Video surveillance in transit systems is considered to be an industry standard and is being used in many countries throughout the world including here in Canada. Video surveillance has proven to be one of the most effective means of helping to keep transit systems operating in a safe and secure manner.

Is someone watching the cameras all the time?

While all cameras and recording devices operate while buses are in service, actual live feed monitoring of each camera will not occur. Camera images will only be viewed by authorized City personnel on the report of an incident.

What did the system cost?

The City of Lethbridge was able to access provincial GreenTRIP funding and the Federal Gas Tax Fund to cover the majority ($515,000) of the total $650,000 cost for the new system. The remaining $135,000 was funded through the City’s school bus replacement fund.

Date posted: Jan. 10, 2017