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All aboard! 98%-accurate anonymous automated passenger counting on Swiss trains

 

A smart Parquery solution developed for the Swiss Federal Railways SBB CFF FFS

 

In collaboration with Switzerland's leading public transport provider, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), Parquery developed a camera-based onboard Automated Passenger Counter (APC). We adapted our versatile Artificial Intelligence (AI) framework to detect travelers with 98 % accuracy as they step on and off a train.

 

Parquery's Artificial Intelligence (AI) framework detects travelers with 98% accuracy

After evaluating multiple providers, we chose Parquery because they are excellent engineers and deliver accurate results.

As a team, we worked out the underlying conditions and requirements and ensured that everything was fully compliant with data protection. SBB were involved in the development process and Parquery's transparent, committed, and competent methodical approach made a strong impression on us.

Gion Sialm, Senior Enterprise Architect for Artificial Intelligence at SBB CFF FFS
Parquery detects and counts travelers in trains
Parquery detects and counts travelers in public transport

Uses SBB’s existing infrastructure

 

Existing security cameras installed overhead monitor the two entrance areas of each train carriage. Additionally to their primary use, the cameras' footage is now employed to count passengers. Thus, no additional sensors, hardware, or cabling needed to be installed.

Besides their security use, the camera footage is used to count passengers

Difficulties overcome during the development

 

Low ceilings in train coaches and doors on either side of the coach are challenging for every sensing counter. At least two cameras are needed to avoid people hiding one another. In turn, this requires a robust solution that avoids double counts.

 

Surveillance cameras installed in the entrance area - no double counts with Parquery

Two surveillance cameras monitor the entrance area of a vehicle. Due to contractual agreements, a sketch is shown in place of actual footage.

 

Another hitch was to provide continuity for changing looks. A passenger-meter must not be derailed by people entering with, e.g.,

  • a cap or hoodie pulled deep down that they later remove,
  • an umbrella held above their head which they fold away as they step in,
  • a winter coat that has a fur-trimmed hood they drop once in the warm carriage, or
  • skis, bikes, or a lot of luggage.

We identified such cases and trained our learning AI algorithms accordingly. Thus, allowing them to adapt and discern that people remain the same despite altering appearances.

 

Learn more about Parquery's AI algorithms and why they are so adaptable.  Find out how

 

Parquery's APC counts passengers as they enter or exit the vehicle

Passengers are detected and counted as they enter or exit the vehicle (orange bounding boxes). Thereupon, precise rider numbers (occupancy) are calculated for each carriage and leg, as well as the turnover at each stop.

Contractual agreements and privacy regulations do not allow us to disclose actual footage, hence, a sketch is shown in its place.

We also evaluated a 3D sensor to count people, but some trains only have a [ceiling] height of 2.1m, so [...] you can't be precise with just one sensor. People 1.9m tall will hide others with 1.6m. That's why it's crucial to work with multiple cameras.

Gion Sialm, Senior Enterprise Architect for Artificial Intelligence at SBB CFF FFS

What’s next?

 

Having determined traveler numbers in single carriages with two entrance foyers and four doors, the next logical step is now to deploy the solution on the entire train. And to hone, sharpen and refine our AI models to further increase the precision and squeeze out the remaining errors.

Privacy and data protection

 

Both SBB and Parquery are very sensitive to privacy and data protection and guarantee to process no personal data. The data relevant to SBB are anonymized head counts.

With the counting done in the entrance area, there was no need to monitor the entire carriage and its passengers at all times. Moreover, the team took special care to reduce the image resolution so people cannot be recognized.

 

What happens onboard stays onboard

 

Parquery's solutions also run on edge devices. Edge devices are powerful tiny computers that can be installed onboard near the camera, such as the NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX. Thus, all image and video analysis can be done onboard the vehicle and deleted once processed. No image or video data ever leaves the train.

Parquery's solutions also run on edge devices like the Nvidia Jetson Xavier
Parquery's solutions also run on edge devices like the Nvidia Jetson Xavier

NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX - energy-efficient, powerful compact computing module for AI edge devices

GDPR - Parquery guarantees data protection and privacy

Fully GDPR- and FADP-compliant

 

We strictly comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP). Our dedicated data protection page explains how and which options are available.

CH - FADP - Parquery guarantees data protection and privacy

Contractual agreements and privacy regulations do not allow us to disclose actual footage. Hence, sketches and illustrative photos are shown in their place.

Dedicated data protection page

FAQ on data protection

Get in touch and start counting passengers on platforms, in train stations, at bus stops, or on an entire transportation network

 

Parquery counts passengers on platforms, in train stations or on bus stops

More than 80 projects in 30+ countries

 

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