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Center Identification Number:  77714     


Project Title:  Enhancing Transit Safety and Security with Wireless Detection and Communication Technologies   


Co-Principal Investigators:


Sean J. Barbeau
Research Associate, CUTR
Phone: (813) 974 -7208


Philip L. Winters
TDM Program Director, CUTR
Phone: (813) 974 -9811


Nevine Georggi
Research Associate, CUTR
Phone: (813) 974-9770


Rafael Perez
Professor, Computer Science & Engineering
Phone: (813) 974 -3437


Miguel Labrador
Professor, Computer Science & Engineering
Phone: (813) 974 -3260




Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168


External Project Contact:     


Michael Johnson

Public Transportation Office / Transit Operations





I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

Safety and security in transit systems are of major concern because of the open nature of transit and the high density of people and goods transported along thousands of miles of road or track. Not only does transit appeal to terrorists as an attractive target, but issues concerning system safety and managing incidents put challenging demands on transit and emergency management staff. In order to meet the varying safety and security needs of different transit agencies with varying budgets, solutions are needed that are flexible and scalable in size and cost of implementation as well as deployable in a varying environments that make up the transit industry.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

This project will integrate remote Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) into existing two-way location-based multimedia communication system for global positioning system (GPS)-enabled mobile phones developed by researchers at the University of South Florida (USF). Wireless sensors can be scattered in any site temporarily or permanently to automatically monitor and detect motion, sound, intrusion, temperature, chemicals, and much more. The observational effectiveness of a few onsite safety or security personnel are significantly multiplied by a relatively inexpensive sensor system that could be entirely unmanned and remotely notify off-site personnel in case of an incident. An intelligent alert system will also be developed that can automatically contact designated officials based on the detected event. This prototype tool would be used both as a pre-emptive mechanism to avoid potential disasters and as a catalyst for immediate response to mitigate the effects of an incident that has already occurred.

As part of this project, input from transit agencies will be sought to identify a specific area of application for WSNs towards safety and security in a transit environment. While the WSN technology developed in this project could be applied to different scenarios, this project will demonstrate the use of the prototype technology by focusing on a particular area of application. Conversations with transit personnel have yielded several real-world problems that could potentially benefit from WSN systems, including:

• Intrusion of debris onto the rail guideway area
• Intrusion of people onto the rail guideway area
• Fires resulting from the malfunction or failure of railcar mechanical equipment
• Monitoring noise levels of current or proposed bus service
• Monitoring air qualify and other weather conditions at bus stops or on bus vehicle exhausts
• Using buses as mobile sensors for detection of biological or chemical weapons attack, or other environmental conditions
• Alerting a paratransit vehicle or bus operator to prevent a collision with low overhangs near buildings
• Presence of vehicles or people on at-grade rail crossings
• Presence of water or flooding in sensitive areas
• Intrusion of unauthorized personnel at secure areas/facilities such as equipment yards or tunnels.

The proposed scope of service for this project consists of the following tasks.

Task 1: Conduct literature review and assess technology options for Location-Aware Wireless Sensors and location-enabled cell phones

• Review literature on the application of sensor technology to transit safety and security will be reviewed.
• Examine existing capabilities of commercially available wireless sensors and location-aware mobile phones.
• Estimate costs for real-world deployment of the equipment.

Task 2: Identify a transit agency and specific a safety/security application to which the WSN technology will be applied

• Identify a transit agency that will aid the project team in focusing on real-world safety and security issues currently present in a transit environment.
• In consultation with the transit agency and FDOT project manager, select a specific application that can demonstrate the effectiveness of WSN technology.
• Acquire the appropriate wireless sensor network equipment and up to three location-enabled phones and any necessary software to address the identified application.

Task 3: Develop method to establish and locally monitor a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) and communicate between the WSN and the Internet

• Design and develop a system that facilitates the communication between nodes in a wireless sensor network.
• Design, develop and test a local database and/or local control mechanism within the wireless sensor network that will detect and store detected events.
• Design, develop, and test a software that bridges the communication gap between the local wireless sensor network and the Internet. This software will communicate and synchronize information between a server hosting the existing system and the control and/or storage mechanism within the wireless sensor network.

Task 4: Modify the existing two-way location-based communication system to incorporate data from Wireless Sensor Networks

• Modify the existing two-way location-based communication system to incorporate data and events from the wireless sensor network including a process for altering the database and existing software that receives location-based messages in order to properly store and manage sensor data and test the prototype.

Task 5: Develop method for alerting appropriate personnel once a sensor event has been detected

• Design, develop, and test a method for delivering and displaying data generated from sensors when an event has been detected, based on the specific transit application selected in Task 2. This will include a delivery mechanism to appropriate transit personnel via mobile phones so that they are instantly alerted of an incident regardless of their physical location.

Task 6: Prepare Final Report

• A draft final report will be prepared and submitted for review and comment. This will include an estimation of the level of effort that is necessary for training transit personnel how to use the prototype system. Revisions will be made and 13 copies of the final report will be delivered to FDOT.

III. Deliverables

Deliverables for this project will include the following:

Progress Reports

Progress Reports will be submitted on a quarterly basis to the Research Center for processing. The first Progress Report will become due 3 months after a Notice to Proceed is issued by the Department. Progress reports will be sent to Sandra Bell, Contracts Administrator at and will include the following information:

(1) Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title
(2) Work performed during the quarter
(3) Work to be performed in the following quarter
(4) Requested modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope)*see separate instructions for requesting approval of modifications
(5) An updated Progress Schedule.

Draft Final Reports

The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be CUTR’s responsibility.

Final Reports

Thirteen copies of the final report will be delivered to: The Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450. A camera ready unbound original, and an electronic copy in MS Word format on CD will be delivered to FDOT with one electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final Report shall be a separate document and include the following four sections:

• Background,
• Objectives and Supporting Tasks,
• Finding and Conclusions, and
• Benefits of the Project.

The Final Report will contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page and a page after the Report Documentation Form that states the following:

• The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation , or the U.S. Department of Transportation.
• Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

IV.  Project Schedule


RESEARCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Task 1 2 2         1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Literature review and assess technology options 19% 47% 77% 100%                            
Task 2                           1 1 1 1 1
Identify transit agency and a specific safety/ security application 24% 37% 63% 81% 94% 95% 95% 96% 97% 98% 98% 99% 100%          
Task 3                 2         1 1 1 1 1
Develop method to establish and locally monitor a WSN and communicate between that and the Internet 5%  14% 23% 32% 46% 66% 80% 95% 100%                  
Task 4               2 2 2 2     1 1 1 1 1
Modify the existing 2-way location-based communication system to incorporate data from WSN         8% 16% 23% 31% 39% 59% 80% 100%            
Task 5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1       2              
Develop method for alerting appropriate personnel once a sensor event has been detected                8% 16%  31% 60% 80% 100%          
Task 6 1 1 1                 2            
Final Report                     33% 66% 100%          


V.  Project Budget


Enhancing Transit Safety and Security with Wireless Detection and Communication Technologies

Budget Categories


Center Director Salary


Faculty Salaries

$ 90,704

Admin. Staff Salaries

$   1,136

Other Staff Salaries


Student Salaries

$   6,760

Staff Benefits


Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 98,600



Permanent Equipment

$   2,600

Expendable Property/Supplies

$   1,950

Domestic Travel

$   4,122

Foreign Travel


Other Direct Costs


Total Direct Costs


Indirect Costs

$ 10,727

Total Costs



Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.


VI. Equipment

Equipment used to establish a wireless sensor network as well as up to 3 GPS-enabled phones will be purchased for this project

VII. Travel

Local travel to design and develop the system with GPS-enabled phones and the wireless sensor network will occur. In-state travel to test and demonstrate the system for the involved transit agency will occur.

VIII. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be involved in developing the software and testing this system.





National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: