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Jul 29 2015

Communications technologies & transportation security

Specific communications technologies can help enable transportation security -- which directly affects economic activity and personal mobility.

And whether today’s transportation companies, railway operators, airports, and road authorities are dealing with moving commuters or commodities from A to B, challenges exist. These include keeping travel on schedule, protecting travelers and assets, and safeguarding against cyber threats and attacks.

Among the technologies that ensure the “goods” are delivered securely and on time include:

  • Closed-circuit television (CCTV) and IP/MPLS
  • Microwave backhaul
  • Layer 1 encryption over optical dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM)

Protect the public with CCTV over IP/MPLS

People need to feel safe when waiting for or riding the train or the bus. But unfortunately darkness, isolation, and limited surveillance can all lead increased in anxiety for travellers. In fact, according to a study by Britain’s Department for Transport, 10.5% more journeys would be conducted if passengers felt more secure.

Although the presence of staff members or security guards to keep watch is the most desirable solution, it isn’t always possible or practical due to cost. Instead, transport operators are installing CCTV cameras at key locations on station platforms, and onboard trains and buses. CCTV combined with emergency communications points is viewed as an effective back-up to the presence of other people.

CCTV is an effective solution that can:

  • Enhance passenger security
  • Monitor assets to avert vandals and thieves
  • Supervise traffic networks to immediately alert first responders following an accident

Many CCTV systems contain innovative features such as video analytics software to automatically detect intrusions, strange behavior, or unattended baggage. HD cameras are also use to deliver high-quality images.

Most legacy networks, as well as Ethernet and best-effort IP networks, do not scale enough to support the hundreds of cameras that make up a CCTV network comprehensive enough to affect transportation security. In addition to CCTV cameras, which can take up several MB each, standard networks include links to active and standby network operations centers to provide redundancy and connections to the emergency services.

This scalability issue is heightened when these networks also integrate other operational applications such as railway signalling and SCADA, internal email, and emergency communications.

To overcome these difficulties, transport operators are turning to IP/MPLS – a highly scalable solution which supports multiple applications on a single converged network. IP/MPLS is also highly resilient when accommodating converged video and voice as well as operational real-time data traffic.

A look at the new microwave backhaul

Today, microwave backhauling provides a reliable mean of connecting to a network’s key services ranging from GSM-R or TETRA for railways to radar coverage used by air traffic control.

But as the demands of data communications continue to put the pressure on legacy TDM networks, and the need for more and more mission-critical applications increases, it’s important for backhaul networks that guarantee quality of service to keep pace.

A shift to network infrastructure based on IP/MPLS is already underway, helping transportation operators cope with the added bandwidth demands of modern communications. This development has elevated the importance of a reliable backhaul network that is able to cope with the demands of vast networks.

Traditionally, 3 backhaul options have been available: copper and fiber, which rely on physical installations, and microwave which does not.

While significantly cheaper than fiber and copper networks, microwave suffers from the belief that it:

  • Requires licensed spectrum
  • Can offer only line-of-sight and point-to-point connections
  • Struggles to offer a reliable service in difficult weather conditions

New packet based microwave solutions are set to alleviate these concerns and revolutionize backhaul networks by:

  • Supporting non line-of-sight operations suitable for installation in areas susceptible to high interference like cities, airports, and seaports.
  • Offering capacity benefits – up to 1Gbps with up to four radios using the IP/MPLS router’s link aggregation group feature
  • Being compatible with point-to-point, mesh and ring topologies, guaranteeing service in all situations

With these microwave solutions, it’s also possible to offer backhaul for TETRA base stations, CCTV cameras, sensors, and LTE micro and macro cells. All are attractive to rail, aviation, maritime, and highway operators. This means that, as transportation operators continue the shift to IP/MPLS, microwave backhaul is set to play a major role in delivering a reliable backhaul network for improved transportation security.

Combating the cyber-terrorist threat with DWDM

With the growing number of cyberattacks globally, it’s not just web servers and databases that are under threat. It’s the complete infrastructure of information and communications technologies. As a result, train, air, and road traffic control systems are all vulnerable, which poses unthinkable consequences for governments around the world.

There’s a widespread misconception that IP communication networks are more susceptible to attack than a proprietary or TDM network. But international events show that any kind of infrastructure is vulnerable. Here are a couple of examples:

Some companies are developing communications networks and infrastructure to ward off potential threats and provide added peace of mind to its customers.

IP network infrastructure, for example, uses Network Access Control, encryption, and traffic anomaly detection. IP/MPLS also uses traffic segregation and isolation, so that if one VPN network is compromised, the attacker cannot reach out to other VPN domains.

To detect intrusions and protect optical fiber networks, some companies are integrating security features into DWDM optical equipment. Layer 1 encryption of high-speed lines (10G), which are based on AES 256 (one of the most advanced market standards), guarantees data integrity and confidentiality without compromising performance. This type of encryption is ideal for securing transmission of real-time high-speed data and all critical communications.

Making sure it’s business as usual

For transportation companies, railway operators, airports, road authorities, and government agencies, new communications technologies are vital to ensuring it’s “business as usual” – even as new challenges, threats, and issues arise.

Alcatel-Lucent continues to develop solutions and network infrastructure that improve transportation security as they deliver companies in the transport industry the network performance, security, scalability, and cost-savings they need to keep operations running smoothly.

RELATED MATERIAL

Highways industry pageAviation industry pageRailways industry pageAlcatel-Lucent highlights at InnoTrans 2014 live demoBuild a mission-critical communications network to power IP CCTV white paperModernize mission-critical private networks with packet microwave backhaul white paperMission-critical communications networks for railway operators white paperIP/MPLS networks for highways white paper

To contact the author or request additional information, please send an email to networks.nokia_news@nokia.com.

About Thierry Sens

Thierry is head of customer marketing for Transportation, Oil, Gas and Mining market segments at Nokia. He has broad expertise in telecommunication systems & infrastructure and always enjoys thinking outside the box to explore new ideas and concepts.