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Staying Sharp: Keeping Public Transport Safe

Posted on | 30 Sep 2022

Hero Image of parents with kids near priority lift
Image of LTOC team
Photo: Anthony (third from left) with his team

Meet Mr Anthony Kiong, a Duty Shift Manager (DSM) at the Land Transport Operations Centre (LTOC).

He leads a team of five that monitors daily land transport operations including public buses, rail networks and serious road incidents. In the event of an incident, the team snaps to it, providing sense-making and situational awareness data to LTA. They need to be alert and sharp.

Which is something Anthony knows a lot about.

About Anthony

Outside of his high-intensity job, Anthony unwinds with a slightly unusual hobby. Displayed in locked glass cabinets in his home office lies the culmination of a hobby that began more than 20 years ago when he was a regular in the Army. It features his prized collection of army badges, medals and knives.

Image of Anthony Kiong, Duty Shift Manager from LTA

Anthony has more than 100 camping knives, all safely sheathed. Drop point, sheepsfoot, clip point, spear point — the names of blades roll off his tongue. But his go-to blade is one that he dubs the “durian knife”.

“The handiest knife I have at the moment is the one I use to open durians with. My wife is a durian lover so that’s the knife I usually use the most,” the DSM from LTA shared with a chuckle.

The 45-year-old also revealed a tip about his hobby: Keeping the blades sharp is essential, as the sharper the knife, there is less effort expended to cut.

Better data, better decisions

He applies the same mindset to his job, where he ensures he has the right tools ready for the job in daily operations.

In this case, it means leveraging various technologies to tackle existing and emerging transport issues.

Infographic of the daily operations at LTOC
“I’ve been at LTA since 2008 and over the years, the increased use of technology has helped us perform our work more efficiently,” Anthony shares.

Technology has also been a lifesaver during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the team is physically apart due to split shifts and social distancing measures, technology has bridged the gap. For instance, the shift handover process, which used to be done in person, is now conducted over email and video calls.

But he makes it a point to check in on team members regularly. Having informal conversations about non-work-related topics has also helped the team to de-stress and bring them closer together.

A new pattern has emerged where the work chat group is filled not just about work, but also jokes and details about shopping and dining deals – as colleagues bring their banter online.

“Of course, I am looking forward to the day that we can work as we used to before, but for now, the most important thing is to stay united as one,” he said.

Image of Anthony and his team during the height of COVID pandemic
Go FASTER for better service

Other cutting-edge technology tools that Anthony and his team uses include Fusion Analytics for Public Transport Event Response (FASTER) and the Incident Management Suite (IMS).

FASTER enables his team to better detect rail incidents and predict the extent of its severity. For example, it can collect passenger entry and exit data from station fare gates to detect irregular spikes in crowd sizes. The system will then notify the LTOC to keep a lookout for large crowds within the station's vicinity. Wifi data can also be aggregated to form a heatmap, giving the department an indication of crowd levels.

The IMS provides Anthony and his team with improved situational awareness. It allows deployed officers to transmit live video and images back to the LTOC. This information can then be relayed to other key departments.

The IMS is also used during the opening of bus interchanges. Here, video footage is shared to public transport operators’ (PTOs) operations centre and LTA's Intelligent Transport System Centre (ITSC) to monitor traffic build-up. It also allows LTOC to share live CCTV footage to allow PTOs’ operation centres to observe crowds in the vicinity of MRT stations and bus interchanges.

While technology has proved indispensable, Anthony believes good service comes from the heart.

“I always put myself in the shoes of the commuters. For example, if my wife is stuck in a train incident underground, how would I feel?” he said.

Just as he sharpens his knives regularly to keep them in tip-top condition, he is also always honing his skills to stay sharp at work.

“That is why I constantly push myself to do things in a better way to improve my work and the travel experience for commuters,” he added.

Staying calm under pressure

Over the years, Anthony has been involved in several incidents, including in July 2021 at Jurong East MRT station when a man had climbed over the platform screen doors and onto the track to retrieve his mobile phone. While the man was unhurt, an oncoming train was forced to make an emergency stop, causing a delay in train services.

Image of back of Anthony Kiong facing screens at LTOC

“In essence, when a crisis or incident occurs, my job is to provide senior management with the right data so that they can make better decisions,” he said. “My main role is to collect and send out information — and also assist to manage the situation if possible.”

As one of the first people tasked to respond whenever an unexpected incident occurs, Anthony stresses the importance of staying calm under pressure.

On this note, his wife is his role model – for putting up with his unusual hobby. “My wife is definitely the most patient person you'll meet! I mean… I have a collection of more than 100 knives back at home!" he said with a wide grin.

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