Ian Woodroofe
Transportation Systems, Thales

GUANGZHOU is the fast-growing transport, industrial, financial and trade capital of southern China, and is currently constructing two extensions to its metro network. With the city's increasingly global profile, potential threats also rise.

The operations control centre for Guangzhou Metro Corp's Line 4 is a pioneering example of hacker-resistant technology (RG 3.05 p138), which is of growing importance to transport operators who are aware that they may be targeted by terrorist organisations. The control centre has two functions, the optimisation of daily operations and the ability to deal with incidents quickly and effectively, enhancing security and safety for passengers and the operator.

Integrating safety and security technology enables the operator to monitor its entire network from a single site, providing faster reactions to safety and security threats, as well as efficient distribution of resources and improved communication with third parties, including other transport operators.

The metro's Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition system has two basic tasks. Firstly, it acquires real-time data from across the whole network, presenting information and images on a video wall to enable the main control centre to be operated by a small team.

The second function is to allow the supervisors to control all of the subsystems within the stations. If a fire were to break out, the Scada technology can inform the control centre of its location and allow operators to react rapidly to the incident by co-ordinating and instigating all necessary actions: illuminating exit signs, sounding warnings, immobilising lifts and escalators, controlling the ventilation system to help prevent a build-up of smoke, and using the communication and video surveillance systems to co-ordinate passenger evacuation.

The combination of all these systems in a centralised hub enables the operations control centre to maintain a complete overview of all aspects of the metro network, ensuring better management of day-to-day activities as well as crisis situations.

The extent to which the numerous control systems on a modern metro can be integrated is unique to each network, and attempting to promote a one-size-fits-all solution is impossible. From the outset or when upgrading, each operator must consider the needs of its particular network and analyse where integration will produce the greatest benefits. Cities which consider themselves at risk from terrorism may opt for technology which ensures emergency response processes and monitoring equipment are at the heart of their systems.