Level Crossing Inspections

By Chris Walsham

LCSM Services are contracted to perform safety audits on railway level crossings throughout Victoria. One aspect of their contract specifies a series of defined and ad-hoc “views” of the crossing and associated infrastructure that have to be captured using digital photography. In addition to this, any points of interest that are encountered, such as damaged signs, faded pavement markings etc. must also be located and logged.

It is also necessary to capture a set of details about each photo being captured. This includes things such as the spatial coordinates of the photos, who captured the information along with date and time stamps.

Accuracy is a key requirement; where all photos and corresponding information have to be captured to within an accuracy of one metre, due to the number of defined photos in close proximity to the crossing zone.

Over the five year term of their contract, a total of 4,000 crossings need to be captured, including all public and private road, pedestrian and occupation (farm) crossings.

Due to the nature of the project, officers often find themselves in dangerous locations in the middle of busy roads. As such, it is vital that the system is simple and easy to use, allowing them to get in and out of the danger zone as quickly as possible. The remoteness and nature of the work also means that the system has to be reliable and robust; as it is not always possible to revisit sites if something goes wrong.


The Role of RIA

RIA developed a fully customised solution that allows officers to efficiently and safely map level crossings, to the required level of accuracy.

Officers are provided with an interface to enter details describing the crossing, such as its unique identifier, its type (road or pedestrian) and the approach type. They are then free to capture the required photos using a Bluetooth enabled digital camera. As photos are captured, they are automatically sent to a ruggedized PDA, where the software allows them to enter the details about that photo.

Once all photos for that crossing are captured, the crossing gets closed. At this point, validation takes place to ensure that all required photos have been logged.

Four years into the Victorian contract, LCSM are well on their way to achieving the goal of 4,000 crossings over the five year period. On average, they have been collecting around 4-6 crossings each day, which in total include up to 200 photos. They have also recently completed a contract mapping the level crossings in the Northern Territory from Darwin to Alice Springs.


Components used in this solution

– Novatel Smart Antenna GPS with Omnistar VBS Subscription
– Ricoh G700SE Bluetooth enabled digital camera
– Getac PS236 rugged PDA
– ArcPad 7.1

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  • Client: Level Crossing Safety Management Services
  • Tasks: Develop data capture systems for level crossing including location and photos
  • Categories: Asset Management, Mobile GIS