Threat detection

A framework for security architects and designers of metropolitan rail systems

People have great expectations about transport hubs: reliable, frequent, comfortable and efficient service as well as safe and secure. However, satisfying these requirements is a real challenge for designers and operators. For instance, a small change in the positions of the information boards can be enough to affect people’s attention, and turn a concourse into a heaven for pickpockets. To optimize transport infrastructures, designers and managers must therefore consider all the dependencies, and find the best trade-offs. But…what exactly are those dependencies?

What we did — We observed security procedures at multiple metro rail stations, we interviewed security experts, we visited metro rail stations in several cities of the world and studied their design, we talked to staff at the front line of operations, and even watched Youtube videos of passengers passing through security checks at railway stations.

What we found —We identified a range of dependencies between transport security objectives, the design of stations and procedures, and the things that passengers and rail operators care about — from the time taken to complete the journey, ease of travel and even profits. All those are summarised in a table in our article.

So what? — The framework in our paper provides a starting block for architects, security experts, rail managers, and railway company bosses to come together and design transport systems that are safe, secure and usable.

Collaboration — Would you like us to do this kind of research with your organisation? Contact us at @hborrion or

Full article: Borrion, H., Tripathi, K., Chen, P., & Moon, S. (2014). Threat detection: A framework for security architects and designers of metropolitan rail systems. Urban, Planning and Transport Research, 2(1), 173–194.

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