PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) --Palo Alto is getting ready to roll out an innovative pilot program that could help improve safety along the Caltrain tracks that run through the city.
The tracks have seen a number of tragedies in recent years. But now, officials at city hall are turning to the bright minds of Silicon Valley with the goal of keeping its residents safe.
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Near the intersection of East Meadow Drive and Alma Street in Palo Alto, neighbors said they've seen their share of heartbreak through the years. "I cringe every time I hear the sirens going on because of the things that have happened here," Palo Alto resident Rex Meyers said.
Whether it's preventing an accident involving a vehicle or a tragedy involving a train versus a pedestrian, community members say communication is key. "We want to do the things that we can do to mitigate it, and perhaps intervene at that critical moment," Meyers said.
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The city will soon be piloting what's called an intrusion detection system that uses thermal infrared cameras that can detect objects via heat sensors more than a mile away.
Officials say the technology, which is being developed by a South Bay start-up, will also be able to distinguish humans from animals at the intersection, and along the tracks. "What we're going to be evaluating formally is the efficacy of some artificial intelligence, known as video analytics," Palo Alto Director of Emergency Serives Ken Dueker said.
The technology will undergo a 60-day test run this summer at the East Meadow Drive crossing, following approval by the city council earlier this week.
In recent years, multiple teenagers have taken their own lives by entering the tracks in the area.
Since then, the city has made safety improvements including fence installation, vegetation, brush removal and the hiring of around-the-clock security. "The cameras are good for probably monitoring 24-7, and picking up maybe what a guard is not seeing with traffic crossing over," Palo Alto resident Rachel Segars said.
Security guards will remain at the crossings for now.