Video Analytics for Railroad Safety Research: An Artificial Intelligence Approach

Asim Zaman, Xiang Liu, Zhipeng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The volume of video data in the railroad industry has increased significantly in recent years. Surveillance cameras are situated on nearly every part of the railroad system, such as inside the cab, along the track, at grade crossings, and in stations. These camera systems are manually monitored, either live or subsequently reviewed in an archive, which requires an immense amount of human resources. To make the video analysis much less labor-intensive, this paper develops a framework for utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the extraction of useful information from these big video datasets. This framework has been implemented based on the video data from one grade crossing in New Jersey. The AI algorithm can automatically detect unsafe trespassing of railroad tracks (called near-miss events in this paper). To date, the AI algorithm has analyzed hours of video data and correctly detected all near-misses. This pilot study indicates the promise of using AI for automated analysis of railroad video big data, thereby supporting data-driven railroad safety research. For practical use, our AI algorithm has been packaged into a computer-aided decision support tool (named AI-Grade) that outputs near-miss video clips based on user-provided raw video data. This paper and its sequent studies aim to provide the railroad industry with next-generation big data analysis methods and tools for quickly and reliably processing large volumes of video data in order to better understand human factors in railroad safety research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

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