Manufacturing Technology Centre partners on pioneering railway security project

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The Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry has partnered with a West Country video firm to develop a safety system which can spot anti-social behaviour or emergency incidents on railway station platforms.

The partnership has seen the MTC team-up with One Big Circle (OBC), an SME specialising in intelligent video and integration. 

Established in 2017 and based in Brunel’s Engine Shed in Bristol, the company is at the forefront of video capture and accessibility. 

OBC has developed the AIVR system – Automated Intelligent Video Review – to enable industrial organisations to capture video of the environments they need to intelligently monitor, increasing safety and improving performance.

The project – named Project DETER – could be in line for funding through the Network Rail Small Business Research Initiative competition.

The competition was launched to enhance safety and reduce delays created by station incidents such as unusual, unsuitable or undesirable behaviour.

A project DETER screen picture identifying an incident on a station platform

The MTC-OBC consortium was awarded a place in phase one of the competition to build and test a system on pre-recorded video data from Network Rail stations.

The consortium has now been successful in reaching the second round as one of two winners, after competing against seven other organisations across the UK.

Phase two of the funding competition sees Project DETER being deployed in a real life environment.

Project DETER (crowD bEhaviour and object dEtection for Railway station security) uses the MTC’s research and development capability and IT infrastructure alongside OBC’s data capture and video analysis technology – AIVR – in the development of a ‘behaviour engine’.  The project uses machine learning to identify unusual behaviour and suspicious objects.

Once detected, the system will automatically raise alerts for station staff and enable timely and appropriate responses to ensure passenger and staff safety. 

In phase two of the competition, the project team will be given access to stations, to live CCTV data feeds and to Network Rail’s telecoms resource.

This will enable the team to create real time data-driven alerts for loitering, undesirable incidents and crowd density.

The MTC and OBC team brings a blend of research and practical applications in a rail and real world environment.

The team combines a breadth of knowledge in video analysis and applied research expertise on AI methods with a deep understanding of web-based architecture.

Paulino Rocher, MTC technical liaison, said, “We’re looking forward to working on the next phase of this project with One Big Circle to drive safety at train stations of all sizes.

“The MTC has a skilled team of data scientists that, in combination with OBC’s architecture and infrastructure design and software implementation capability, can really bring this project to life.”

OBC co-founder Emily Kent said, “We are excited to be partnering with the MTC on this project to improve safety and security for passengers and staff on railway platforms.  As a UK SME, combining our advanced technology with the expert knowledge and research capacity of the MTC has huge benefits.

“This will ensure we help meet the challenges faced by the rail industry, advance our growth in the industry and ultimately create more jobs and opportunities.”

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The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd.

It aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy.

The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.


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