NEW YORK CITY — The venerable Staten Island Ferry, one of the oldest and busiest ferryboat systems in the world, recently enlisted Johnson Controls to upgrade its existing communications network for all vessels in its fleet.
Operating around the clock each day of the year, Staten Island Ferry services more than 24 million riders annually. To ensure the safety of its patrons and workers — no matter the time of day or weather conditions — the ferry system’s upgrade initiative included the installation of high definition surveillance cameras to better keep track of issues and emergencies on the vessels.
Overcoming Connectivity Challenge
Other mass transit systems in New York City, such as the NYC Metro and MTA bus lines, are located on land and therefore can make use of existing cell towers to provide connectivity for their monitoring efforts.
Staten Island Ferry previously had no such connectivity conveniences. The ferry system’s water routes proved challenging due to the five-mile distance travelled in New York’s Upper Bay. The vessels required a secure and reliable solution that would deliver broadband connectivity for its 25-minute, 5.2-mile crossing from Whitehall Terminal, located in Lower Manhattan, to the St. George Terminal on Staten Island.
The end customer needed a solution that would host all of its communications and data needs, while also providing a high bandwidth wireless network that was proven for its long-distance resilient operation over water.
Johnson Controls was assigned as the single point of responsibility to manage the planning, installation, integration, commissioning and service of the technology systems consisting of a wireless network, IP cameras and a video management system (VMS).
Indianapolis-based BATS Wireless provided its antenna tracking and stabilization solution for Staten Island Ferry’s Whitehall to St. George deployment.
Smooth Sailing From Port to Port
This solution allowed for each vessel in Staten Island Ferry’s route to automatically switch from the terminal network at Whitehall to the terminal network at St. George in under a second, allowing the operator to use a single high-mounted antenna system for each vessel.
Staten Island Ferry’s transit network was configured for continuous link tracking and advanced network switching, which would enable the antenna tracking system to travel from one port to another while enabling seamless access point handoff, key for maintaining the critical link for the entirety of the route and eliminating any live video dropouts.
Together, the fast system and advanced network switching solution notably achieved and exceeded the desired throughput for the ferry route providing Staten Island Ferry with a compelling tool — a 65 megabytes-per-second wireless link that can deliver uninterrupted HD quality video so that operators can better assist patrons riding their vessels.
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