Open Ideation Forum

Mass Transit Security:
Protecting Our Railways & Subways



Traditional checkpoints, like those at airports, are not efficient methods for screening the millions of riders that use U.S. mass transit systems each day. Given the security risks that this presents, it is important to leverage university and industry research to develop technologies that would allow for the rapid screening of threats to people and carried items at a distance including explosives, chemical and biological agents, and toxic industrial chemicals.




How can mass transit authorities, technology developers, first responders, government officials, and the general public work together to address these challenges and accomplish the following?


1. Work with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and mass transit operators across the country to develop and evaluate screening technologies that would enhance security in a wide variety of mass transportation venues;


2. Improve technologies that would allow transit operators to detect and/or potentially identify the presence of operational threats to include explosives, toxic industrial chemicals, chemical warfare agents, biological warfare agents, drugs and narcotics;


3. Develop non-invasive imaging systems to detect explosives or chemical threats that could be used to screen people, in a high-throughput mode while maintaining individual privacy, before they enter mass transit systems;


4. Develop new technologies that will provide enhanced trace detection capabilities for the detection of explosives, chemical and biological threats;


5. Improve canine proficiency for the detection of explosives in carried items, on people and in potential leave behinds;


6. Improve capabilities to rapidly detect an aerosolized biological agent , chemical agent, or toxic industrial chemical to prevent spread, and confirm the effectiveness of the recovery and remediation actions to assure public health and worker safety prior to reoccupation and reuse; and


7. Enhance decision support tools for urban planners and first responders to restore normal business operations following a chemical or biological attack.


DHS S&T needs your requirements and ideas to help guide the investment in these technology development areas and trust interested parties will view this activity as an opportunity to influence decision-makers.


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Open Ideation Forum

PUSH FOR EMERGENCY FAN : Vent Tubes and Venturi Effect

An emergency system which rapidly evacuates the contaminated air within a closed compartment such as a train or bus would be the most effective response in the case of an aerosolized chemical, biological or any toxic airborne substance such as smoke. I believe it would be a relatively inexpensive countermeasure to install and has the potential to save so many lives. There are two methods that I can think of: (disclaimer- ...more »

Submitted by (@christopher.gianni)

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3 votes
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Enhanced Capabilities Through Emerging Technology

The major challenge in securing a mass transit system is the extremely high foot traffic volume. Given that law enforcement staff can only survey a limited portion of the system, emerging technology must play a critical role in achieving a secure system. Video analytics, standoff millimeter wave imaging (with automatic image processing for privacy), and chemical trace detection are active research areas that can aid in ...more »

Submitted by (@w00000)

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Point-by-Point Private Security at Mass Transit Venues

The privatization at mass transit venues will prove itself to be more effective than traditional methods for the following reasons: 1A. Leveraging the private sector at all layers of security will provide competition. In a competitive market place, the best performers come up with the most efficient and creative methods to achieve the mission goals- all at a fraction of the cost of our local, state, and government bodies. ...more »

Submitted by (@christopher.gianni)

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De-identified facial recognition data base

The following is an except from a much larger body of work and it is offered as a potential approach to the problem under discussion. The OK Big Brother? The phrase "Big Brother" brings back memories of the brutally oppressive world depicted in the movie “1984” where the totalitarian regime used video cameras to watch every citizen and dominate their lives. I do not think there is any way I could make that kind ...more »

Submitted by (@jim000)

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Cyber Security Protection of Mass Transit Systems with Immutable Data Storage for Video Surveillance, from Capture to Court

A Seagate/GreenTec HDD that cannot be altered, modified, reformatted or deleted. Protects the Master Boot Record (MBR) and Partition Information from a cyber-attack, protects data from manipulation and deletion, and "safeboots" computer for start and operation after a cyber intrusion. Data is protected, and evidentiary video, audio, photos, etc. are immutable and can be brought directly to court as evidence. This is ...more »

Submitted by (@bwaligunda)

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Go back to basics

How about funding the infrastructure maintenance backlog that we have in our railing system? The American Society of Civil Engineers, which graded U.S. rail infrastructure with a C-, notes that the rail industry requires $200 billion in investment by 2035 to meet projected future demand. Stop worrying about what could happen and start worrying about what is happening.

Submitted by (@pespina)

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Airport Screening Approaches that Might Translate to Railways

Although there’s no question that airports and railways are different when it comes to screening and security needs, there may be some approaches that convey. In the article, “Railway stations should adopt some of the security strategies deployed by airports” (link below), James Somerville-Smith of Honeywell suggests that video analytics (to monitor emotional and facial recognition) would be just as useful at rail stations ...more »

Submitted by (@steveyoung)

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Railway Resilience in the Face of Electromagnetic Attacks

I came across an interesting initiative happening in Europe: the SECRET Project, which is aimed at security of railways against electromagnetic attacks. It's worth checking out, not only in regard to what they plan to accomplish, but also in regard to how the project is governed and structured. They've divided the project into eight issues areas: 1. Threat analysis and risk assessment 2. Static protection 3. Monitoring ...more »

Submitted by (@cmosser)

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K-9 resources and mass transit

As mentioned, there are many challenges to address in mass transit security. As security in DC has been enhanced over the last week, is the answer more K-9 resources? It seems that even the tightest of security won't be able to detect explosives in a backpack or chemical agents without the use of K-9 resources. But what are the drawbacks to this approach? Practical? Financial?

Submitted by (@angievanberkel)

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