The city of Palo Alto is working with Caltrain to install cameras and fencing along the tracks of the Palo Alto Caltrain station. This installment is part of the city’s suicide prevention efforts following four suicides between October and March, including those of local high school students.
Three motion-detection cameras with thermal infrared technology will be be placed by the Caltrain tracks as part of a pilot program. The thermal camera system can detect the difference between a person, animal or vehicle along the tracks and will have a program designed to send a call to 911 if a person is detected. The cameras, which have a one-mile range, will be placed at the Meadow Drive crossing.
“This is a pilot,” said city spokeswoman Claudia Keith in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. “Cameras haven’t been used in this manner on the railroad.”
There is no cost associated with the cameras during the trial-run. The city will have the option to purchase them if it decides to make the system permanent.
Vegetation along the right of way is also being removed to improve sightlines for both the motion-detection cameras and the private guards, who have been employed by the city to monitor the railroad crossings.
Additionally, the city is also working with Caltrain to install eight-foot-tall welded wire fences on the east train corridor for about four miles from the San Francisquito Creek to Oregon Expressway. Construction is expected to happen over the next few weeks, and Caltrain will cover all costs for the work. Caltrain crews will also place 18-inch curved winglets on the fences to hinder people from climbing them.
A community meeting took place Monday, July 27 regarding these efforts. The speakers included Stanford associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Shashank Joshi, who is part of the city’s Project Safety Net, an organization focused on youth support services and the prevention of teen suicides. Other city officials were also present at the meeting.
Keith said research shows that “means restriction,” preventing people from reaching the train tracks, is a vital part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.
Contact Rishab Ramapriyan at rishabram ‘at’ gmail.com.