BNSF Railway


The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF), employing approximately 38,000 people, operates one of the largest railroad networks in North America with 33,000 route miles covering twenty-eight states and two Canadian provinces. This network, which moves more intermodal traffic than any other rail system in the world, covers the western two-thirds of the United States stretching from major Pacific Northwest and Southern California ports to the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. Revenues are generated primarily from the transportation of coal, grain, intermodal containers and trailers, chemicals, metals, minerals, forest products, automobiles and consumer goods.


When BNSF began plans for a security overhaul, PSA member SCI, Inc. provided a detailed scope of work with a comprehensive project detail outlining all of the system components and functions necessary, including performance criteria. Decisions were made based on this detailed overview of the system deliverables in addition to the customer’s previous experience with SCI and the represented manufacturers.


The process began in 2000, with the most recent phase completed in August 2004. SCI is an electronic security management systems integrator located in Albuquerque, New Mexico who furnishes consultation, engineering design development, installation and support services for integrated electronic access control systems. They have been recognized by Security Distributing & Marketing’s nationally recognized Top Systems Integrators report for the past six years. NiceVision, a PSA approved vendor, fulfills the digital video requirements of a security plan that includes the protection of high value storage and staging areas (new automobiles) and transit points for overland freight (truck trailer transit yards). The system also provides remote viewing of large yard areas where extremely low light and long range zoom lens cameras provide the long range eyes necessary to identify train cars and yard activity.

SCI and BNSF agreed upon NiceVision digital video products as the best option to support an integrated electronic security system that incorporates card access control of personnel and vehicle gates; alarm monitoring of gate and area conditions; alarm annunciation via network connectivity to control center, with voice annunciation of alarm conditions over standard phone/cell service. The automated video surveillance is tied into alarm and gate reader activity, with automated camera call-up to display monitors for alarm conditions and fiber optic video transmission for viewing wide-area train yards. Daved Levine, Co-Owner and Project Contract Administrator for SCI stated, “The decision to use Qognify was based in part on the customer’s national standard performance characteristic requisite requirements, as well as on performance requirements in relation to potential system growth. NiceVision provides a product with a stable platform that is network-friendly, flexible with regards to input capacity and has a high quality of video record, transmission and display.” Railroad environments present specific challenges to the integrator such as the need of each subsystem to coordinate between various customer support groups, including radio communications, network services and safety and police departments. Each group has specific areas of concern that typically require full process disclosure, training, and documentation.

System design criteria are adjusted to suit this highly industrial 24/7/365 environment including the requirement for staff to qualify for specific safety certifications. Product performance requirements are at the critical end of environmental conditions. Massive amounts of structural and moving steel can impact electrical and electro-mechanical performance of security systems. Electrical grounding, surge protection, product mounting components, and general installation processes are all evaluated and performed with consideration to extremely harsh environmental and industrial conditions.


Video is taken from cameras located at the auto-loading facility, where cameras view general lot activity (high speed acquisition dome cameras, color, low light, long zoom lens capabilities) and perimeter fence lines and entry points that are integrated to card access controlled vehicle entry gate systems. Cameras view activity of tractor-trailer rigs that bring product loaded trailers into and out of the yards where they are transported by rail at intermodal facilities and train deployment yards where train cars are brought in from around the country. Identifying drivers and vehicle identification numbers on truck trailers and vendor identification numbers on tractor rigs provides documentation of truck trailer transit into and out of yards.

The system deployed by SCI in three separate and distinctly different business environments for BNSF including auto loading, intermodal transit, and train configuration sites are all integrated into one enterprise system managed from a BNSF central control facility, allowing for centralization of security and monitoring management on one critical platform.

Alarm conditions generated by field detection, door or gate status monitoring devices are all managed by the access control system, tied directly to local video in the digital video recording system and annunciated by means of the access control system monitoring workstations. Automated local transmission of critical conditions to specific staff via mobile phones allows an automated voice dialing unit to send a unique voice-recorded description of an alarm condition to authorized staff.


“The local systems are each designed with a local/regional master plan in mind, which must include consideration of the enterprise master plan. The master planning is a continuous process of evaluations in respect to facilities expansion of their use and services. Qognify digital video works very well in this kind of enterprise driven situation.” says Daved Levine, Co-Owner and Project Contract Administrator at SCI.