Queensland trains go wireless

Police, security to share multi-million dollar network with commuters

The Queensland government will rollout $4 million worth of state-wide wireless Internet access for the CityTrain network to unify management of its 6000 security cameras.

Under the plans, the wireless network will be made publicly available on trains and station platforms and could be used by commuters with existing wireless Internet connections. It follows a successful pilot on the Gold Coast train network which connected security cameras in real-time to a central monitoring system.

In a statement, Transport Minister, Rachel Nolan, said the network would allow police and security officers to respond more rapidly to incidents on public transport systems, stations and commuter car parks.

“Staff in the control room will also be able to keep an eye on known trouble spots and crackdown on antisocial behaviour,” she said. “Now police and security guards will be able to monitor travellers on trains, and any incidents, in real-time over a wireless network. This will give the control room the capacity to track offenders on trains and at stations, and also to coordinate a rapid response by police and transit officers.”

Presently, police are only able to follow-up on incidents after reviewing footage recorded by the cameras. Nolan said wireless access points will be installed on every train and station on the state’s CityTrain network. The Queensland project is set to cost between $1-$4 million, and will go to tender in July.

Managing director for analyst firm Telsyte, Warren Chaisatien, said the network could be extended to other public transport systems to help coordinate timetables, route mapping and to improve the management of additional security processes.

While commuters will be able to use their existing wireless Internet accounts over the train network, he played down suggestions the network could be vulnerable to hacking because it can employ an array of mature security technologies and protocols including WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol).

The Queensland wholesale wireless network trial follows several wireless Internet rollout plans in other states across Australia.

The South Australian government has planned similar projects for its public bus networks which would help drivers navigate traffic and provide real-time updates of bus locations to commuters. Similar networks are already in many capital cities across North America, South Korea, Germany and Spain.

However, a project in NSW to provide free wireless Internet access with the state’s CBDs, was scrapped in 2007. According to experts, the decision reflected similar failed projects overseas and spiralling costs.

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