Case Study | Sound Transit | Advanced Sound & Communication

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When the Chief Security Officer for a busy metro transit authority thought it all through, he knew that the nerve center for his system needed a complete overhaul.

“Sound Transit” is the popular name for Washington State’s Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, which operates express bus, commuter rail, and light rail service in the region. Ken Cummins is the Chief Security Officer for Sound Transit, and he directs their Security Operations Center where they monitor and control the security for the entire system. After a careful competitive selection process, Ken reached out to Nigel Waterton, Director of Business Development at the Seattle branch of Aronson Security Group (ASG), who would serve as designer, integrator and project manager for the upgrade project. According to Nigel, “Ken wanted to completely revamp the Center to upgrade its capabilities, as well as help the staff work more efficiently. Our team started with a Security Process Optimization (SPO) assessment to see what changes would make the most sense. 

“What Sound Transit had originally was a mismatched set of technologies that had been implemented over time. The Security Operations center layout wasn’t well aligned with the people staffing the center and what they needed to do. I actually sketched out some initial ideas,” Waterton continued, “and then took it back to the office to create a starting point for our design proposal.”

According to Cummins, “Sound Transit Security Division is charged with creating a Safe, Secure and Comfortable environment for our customers and employees. A few of our many core functions is to provide a security presence at Sound Transit’s various facilities; conduct fare enforcement onboard our rail services; monitor various technical security systems; and to coordinate with law enforcement and emergency services. In addition we provide real time operational and environmental information to the Operation Departments that run the various transit services; as well as providing information to and from our customers.” 

As designer and consultant, ASG was tasked with the complete overhaul and cost-effective upgrade of Sound Transit’s central control room. The winning proposal included several key equipment elements, including consoles, equipment mounting and enclosures provided by Middle Atlantic Products and video systems by Pelco. Explaining in more depth, Waterton relates, “We proposed a new arrangement for Ken and his team that was based on a model currently being used at Microsoft for GSOC (Global Security Operations Center). That model is entirely supported by Middle Atlantic products ViewPoint™ consoles AND VisionFrame™ video monitor walls.

In terms of video, Waterton said, “We recommended an Enterprise VMS platform that was an expansion of their current platform because we didn’t feel it was necessary to spend extra money to replace the entire system. The network architecture was being improved to handle the capabilities of an Enterprise-based VMS platform in terms of bandwidth manipulation and segmenting the roles for each operator. “We also added a couple of large screen Pelco 42” monitors in the Security Operations Center itself running local and national TV feeds to give operators a vantage point of what was going on in the outside world so they could use that situational awareness to react more efficiently. The video system is a Pelco Endura platform, an expansion and upgrade of their existing platform,” he continued.

“What then made the center ergonomically functional was the solution package offered by Middle Atlantic which included their Viewpoint™ consoles, VisionFrame™ mounts and Designer™ software. That combination offering allowed us to get more creative in transforming a tired-looking office into the modern, functional space Sound Transit was looking for,” Waterton said. “Sound Transit needed workstations that functioned equally well for a dispatcher, a supervisor, or someone who was actively looking for incidents on the video screens. And also a solution that gave the same capability to see everything on the other stations. They had primary tasks, but if one person needed assistance, they could share their screen view with others. Viewpoint consoles gave operators a lot more flexibility as well, and they allowed us to layout what was required for specific operators like the dispatcher, the supervisor, or the security scanner.” “Middle Atlantic’s free Designer software let our engineers quickly design a package that was functionally correct and to scale. All we had to do was enter the dimensions, height, width and depth, and we were off to the races! Because of the flexibility it provides, we could change and pull our parts quickly, whereas in the past you’d have to refer to extensive documentation and catalogs. The results could be exported into a CAD document that we could forward to contractors who were doing carpet and paint, glazing, and HVAC changes.”

“We are very pleased with the results of the upgrade project,” said Cummins. “Our broad responsibilities translate to a wide span of activity that must be supported cost effectively by the security operations staff and the equipment in that central location. The Security Operation Center upgrade project has delivered a facility scalable and flexible enough to meet the information needs of the Operations Department and our Customers in today’s fluid risk environment, as well as for tomorrow’s unseen challenges.”