hat can we do about our transportation challenges? How do we prepare our transportation infrastructure to support our needs in the future? These are just some of the questions addressed in a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) titled Beyond Traffic 2045. The report is the result of two years of research and touches on a wide range of trends that will affect the U.S. transportation system in the decades to come, including emerging technologies, population growth, economic opportunities, and freight shipping. There are many challenges, but cities in the U.S. and around the world are addressing them head-on to reduce congestion, become more efficient, and create value through smart solutions. Smart cities and smart transportation often go hand in hand. Urban areas are growing. There will be 70 million more people in the U.S. by 2045, with many residing in urban areas. Traffic congestion, already a problem in big cities, will only get worse. Besides frustrating commuters and visitors, congestion results in high costs. In fact, congestion delays and lost fuel costs $160 billion a year, according to the Beyond Traffic 2045 report. Traffic management is one key element in reducing congestion. Sensors, cameras, and mobile applications make it possible to develop an integrated traffic management system, like the one used by the state of Utah. Traffic and road conditions can be monitored, pavement repair needs can be identified, signals can be adjusted to improve traffic flow, and travelers can be alerted of backups, delays, and alternate routes via signage and mobile devices.
Parking is another transportation challenge. More cars lead to more parking headaches. Some cities, like the City of San Diego, are implementing smart solutions to help alleviate the problem. The city plans to install 3,200 smart sensors as part of a project to replace 14,000 streetlights with more energy efficient LED lights. The sensors will help create an IoT platform that the city hopes to use to “optimize parking and traffic, enhance pedestrian safety, and track air quality” using real-time data and analytics. Savings from the streetlight replacements alone, which will come from the energy efficiency of the LED lighting as well as smart controls like automated dimming and brightening, are expected to be $2.4 million a year. Smart solutions, like those at the Living Lab in Dallas, can make cities more attractive to residents and visitors and increase the use of public transportation. More efficient lighting reduces carbon emissions. Sensors can track atmospheric conditions, pollutants, and allergens as well as temperature and humidity. Kiosks can help residents and visitors shop and travel more efficiently with better information about public transit options and schedules. And onboard video can make public transportation options safer and more appealing. Some cities, like Columbus, OH, see great opportunities in smart transportation solutions. The city won the Smart City Challenge in 2016. In their winning proposal, Columbus officials outlined a plan that would leverage smart solutions to improve economic opportunities and quality of life for all residents. According to Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, “Transportation is not just about roads, transit, and ride sharing. It’s about how people access opportunity. And how they live.” Smart transportation and smart cities rely on innovative technology and data analytics. Transportation agencies need to record, aggregate, and manage an increasing amount of data from cameras and sensors. From reducing congestion and enhancing safety to supporting new modes of transportation like driverless vehicles, smart solutions are making a difference in cities today and are vital to building the transportation infrastructure we need for tomorrow. To learn more about how cities are modernizing their approach to transportation surveillance, view the Smart Storage for Smart Cities infographic.
“Smart” traffic cameras that use artificial intelligence to try to spot people using cell phones while driving are being rolled out in Australia. The devices take a high-resolution photograph through the front windshield of each passing vehicle, and also capture its license plate. Each photograph is then analyzed by an AI algorithm. If the algorithm decides that the driver is touching a mobile phone, tablet, or another device, it then forwards the photograph to a human reviewer who confirms the violation and issues a citation to the car’s registered owner along with a hefty fine.
This technology represents one of the first significant examples of something that we have warned may become common: the use of smart surveillance cameras to take the place of human police officers in visually enforcing rules and regulations of all kinds. Except these devices won’t just take the place of human officers; they’ll make it possible to greatly increase the scale and pervasiveness of enforcement agents. No jurisdiction is going to station three human police officers on every highway mile and city block to do nothing but look for and issue citations to distracted drivers — but with AI cameras, the equivalent could easily be done. The age of robot surveillance is around the corner and the watchers will soon far outnumber the watched.
The “mobile phone detection cameras” being deployed in Australia are made by a company called Acusensus, which says that its system can detect texting drivers at night, in all weather conditions, through sun glare, and at high speeds. According to the company, the “system hardware is compact and unobtrusive” — meaning easy to hide — and “detection can be performed in real-time to assist police operations.” The company is currently pitching its product in the United States and Canada, though I have not heard of a deployment in the United States so far (and the company’s web site does not boast about such a deployment, as we would expect). I am not sure how many other companies sell competing products, though I would expect that any company with expertise in computer vision could develop a product relatively easily. Certainly, the use of mobile phones by drivers is a very serious problem. As I’ve long pointed out, driving cannot be seen as a purely individualistic activity. What we do with and in our cars affects not just our safety but the safety of other people — and the amount of carnage on our roadways each year is devastating. As a result, driving is already a highly regulated activity. There is also substantial evidence that smartphone use while driving contributes significantly to that human toll. But the arrival of this kind of AI monitoring technology presents us with larger decisions that we’re going to have to make as a society. Currently, cars are often considered quasi-private spaces, where people do all kinds of things, from eating to applying makeup to changing their clothes to — yes — looking at their cellphones. We could decide as a society that the dangers of distracted driving are so high that we don’t want the interiors of our cars to be at all private, and declare them fair game for high-resolution photography that can be scrutinized by government officials. We have no independent information about how accurate the Australian systems is, or how others like them will be, though some false positives are inevitable. That means that every driver will be subject to having their photograph randomly scrutinized by the authorities. We should expect that these devices will be able to pick up other things besides texting. Already the Australian vendor boasts that the system can be set to flag behaviors including “eating, drinking and smoking, adjusting vehicle settings (radio, etc.), and use of mobile and navigation devices in a holder.” Whether the AI can discriminate between a driver drinking a beer and a root beer is unclear, which means that a swig of any beverage behind the wheel could get a photo of you scrutinized by the authorities. Photographs may expose other things as well, from the presence of guns or drugs to on-the-road sexual activities, as well as private things like reading material, intimate personal effects, and passengers and drivers adjusting their clothes in ways that reveal their bodies at times they reasonably believe they can’t be seen by others. In the absence of tight controls over the handling of photographs, some revealing photographs will inevitably be saved and shared for voyeuristic purposes by those whose job it is to review them.
In Australia, the vendor says that its system shows only images of the drivers, not passengers, to the human reviewers, though we don’t know how reliable the automated redaction of photos is, or whether other vendors would also follow this practice. In media reports (though not on its web site), the company also says it quickly deletes photographs in which the AI finds no sign of a violation. But in New South Wales, 8.5 million photographs were taken in just a six-month period; that kind of photographic database might prove valuable in all kinds of ways that a for-profit company would want to exploit. A system with the power of this one should never be deployed with privacy protections that depend on the promises and voluntary practices of a company; it should be subject to statutory protections. If we decide as a society to allow these devices to be deployed, we might require that drivers be given notice of their locations so that they can adjust their behavior. Or, we might allow them to be deployed without public notice to better deter dangerous behavior. That would create a “panopticon effect” in which everybody must act as if they are being scrutinized by the authorities at every moment since they never know at what moments they actually will be, creating in drivers “a state of conscious and permanent visibility.” That would represent a fairly significant change in what it is like to drive in America. If we make a decision as a society to routinely extend the eye of the state into the interior of our vehicles in this way, that is a decision that a) should be known to all, and b) made through transparent democratic processes. The decision should not be made by police departments unilaterally throwing the technology into our public spaces without asking or even telling the communities they serve. That is something we’ve seen happen with too many other technologies, including license plate scanners, aerial surveillance, and face recognition. In cities where our recommended “Community Control Over Police Surveillance” legislation has been enacted, democratic review will be required, but police departments in every city and state should leave this decision to the communities they serve. The other thing we must consider if we decide to permit this technology to be used is where things will go from there. Already a number of companies are selling in-vehicle “fleet cameras” designed to monitor employees who drive for a living, subjecting those workers to constant robot surveillance and judgment. Personal vehicles, too, are beginning to feature cameras that monitor drivers for distraction or drowsiness. And AI smart cameras may well end up covering much more mundane behaviors. We could find ourselves fined for such offenses as cutting the edge of a crosswalk or putting materials in the wrong recycling bin. (That latter scenario is not such a stretch; some municipal governments in the United States have already equipped garbage trucks with video cameras that monitor the bins being emptied at each residence to determine if the right materials are coming out of each container, facilitating fines for noncomplying residents.) Aside from privacy issues, these cameras would also raise other questions: • Would there be racial bias in their deployment patterns or in the adjudications that human reviewers make of ambiguous photos? • Would decisions to charge based on photos be made by sworn police officers only? With red-light cameras, we saw deployments that gave vendors a role in deciding guilt and innocence — and running the program in ways that created financial incentives to increase tickets. • Would the cameras be fair? Unlike a citation issued by a live officer, automated accusations arrive by mail (if they arrive at all) long after the alleged violation. That makes it harder for people to recollect the circumstances of the violation to dispute a charge based on errors or extenuating circumstances. • As with red-light cameras, there are also fairness questions around the fact that a car’s owner is the one cited when someone else could have been driving it. Stopping texting drivers to lower traffic deaths is the kind of sympathetic goal that new surveillance technologies are always first deployed to address. But, as we consider going down that road, we need to figure out where we will draw the line against automated surveillance, lest we end up being monitored by armies of digital sticklers scolding, flagging, and fining us at every turn.
Deploying mobile video surveillance cameras for security and asset protection at job sites and compounds, as either an alternative to or compliment for security guarding services, offers multiple benefits. From significant cost-savings and speed of installation through to quality and convenience, WCCTV’s clients are already benefitting from reliable, unmanned, 24/7 protection of high‑incident areas, transportation routes, construction sites and critical infrastructure Below WCCTV outlines some of the headline benefits associated with its Rapid Deployment Pole Cameras and Mobile Solar Surveillance Trailers when used for real estate, commercial and residential construction job sites, freight yards, rail yards and remote sites.Cost Effectiveness The cost of employing security guards can be incredibly expensive for clients seeking a site security solution.
A typical unarmed guard will cost between $12 – $20 per hour depending on state with an armed guard costing $18 -$25 per hour.* This price does not include external factors such as the requirement for multiple guards to cover sites, the need for training, vetting, rest facilities and vehicles pushing hourly rates ever upwards – even before public holiday premium rates are taken into consideration. As a cost-effective alternative, many are switching to mobile video surveillance cameras for site security. Systems such as WCCTV’s Mini Dome Solar Trailers are often anywhere up to 87% cheaper than the cost of security guards without compromising on quality or results. WCCTV provides its rapid deployment solar trailers on a sale or rental basis, meaning clients are able to choose a package that is most financially beneficial for their projects, regardless of the duration.
Quality and Reliability Video surveillance provides a more accurate and detailed overview of incidents on site than a security guard presence could. This includes being able to identify intrusions in the lowest lighting conditions. Technology such as infrared, thermal imaging and video analytics allow cameras to see things a human eye would find impossible to detect.
A surveillance camera can also view a much wider area than a security guard, and with the use of multiple passive infrared (PIR) detectors, they can proactively identify any intrusion across a whole site and all points of ingress. Surveillance cameras are always attentive, they are ready to stop and catch thieves, vandals and other would-be criminals 24/7. They don’t suffer lapses in concentration or attention fatigue. Surveillance cameras remove the element of placing trust in the alertness, motivation and ability of security personnel. From a technology perspective, WCCTV Dome Solar Trailers, fitted with WCCTV’s 4G Mini Dome Cameras, represent the next generation of unmanned site security in terms of convenience, flexibility and quality. The WCCTV Mini Dome Solar Trailer is an autonomously-powered mobile video surveillance system that can be rapidly deployed at practically any location, providing security for remote sites, short-term events or off-grid locations on a temporary or permanent basis. The trailer is fitted with up to 4 of WCCTV’s 4G Mini Dome pole cameras that have been specifically designed to deliver live and recorded video securely and efficiently via 4G LTE networks. The units are extremely power efficient, meaning that they can do more with less power. They don’t rely on gas generators removing the need to refuel or maintain in the field – this also offers a heavy cost reduction which we pass onto our end users. Live and recorded footage can be accessed via wireless networks including 4G LTE, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing users to remotely view and download the video via mobile devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC) or via an existing video management system.
A Proactive and Visual Deterrent The ideal result for anyone looking to secure a site and their valuable assets is to prevent intrusions or break-ins before they occur. The WCCTV Mini Dome Solar Trailer stands 20ft high, providing an unmistakable visual deterrent for a would-be trespasser – they are proven to prevent criminal activity.Risk Mitigation It’s often suggested that a benefit of using security guards is that, should they discover an intruder onsite, they can intervene and prevent a robbery from occurring. However, in most cases, security guards are trained not to approach a potential intruder, for concerns over safety. Options, therefore, become very limited. Usually, in such instances, security guards ensure their own safety, before calling out Law Enforcement, the same as any normal member of the public. Using a mobile surveillance camera system such as the WCCTV Mini Dome Solar Trailer could not only ensure a quicker response as they can be streamed to a video monitoring center, it also prevents putting a human into a risky situation where their safety could be threatened. Rapid deployment and flexibility It takes just minutes to install the WCCTV Mini Dome Solar Trailer at your locations, and it can easily be moved to new locations as your sites develop or applications change. It is an ideal surveillance solution for locations without any fixed infrastructure for power or video transmission. They can also be moved around the site as they develop, meaning blind spots can be mitigated and the most appropriate areas of risk remain protected at all times. Its completely autonomous powering means it can be installed practically anywhere providing immediate security without any infrastructure requirements for power or video transmission.
Additional Benefits Using a WCCTV mobile video surveillance system provides a number of other onsite benefits. One major benefit is the cameras can be used to provide project overview footage and assist with health and safety applications. As the cameras provide a 24/7 video feed, it allows clients to: Conduct remote site audits Review working procedures remotely and/or retrospectively Manage site access (vehicles/pedestrians) Manage access across site boundaries Issue audio alerts Another added benefit is all WCCTV’s video cameras are time lapse video ready. The system will capture high definition images of your construction, demolition or refit projects which our team will
Video Surveillance for Traffic Traffic cameras are an innovative and extremely functional use of video surveillance technology. You’ve seen their footage during traffic reports on the TV news. They’re atop traffic signals and placed along busy roads, and at busy intersections of the highway. Whether they’re recording traffic patterns for future study and observation or monitoring traffic and issuing tickets for moving violations, traffic cameras are an explosively popular form of video surveillance.Advantages of Traffic Surveillance Cameras Aid commuters – Traffic cameras placed at common congestion points on highways, freeways, interstates and major arteries often share feeds with news outlets – both radio and TV, which in turn pass them onto commuters in the form of traffic reports. Normally, traffic flows do not vary much from day to day, but in the event of a severe accident or road closure, a traffic alert can be extremely valuable for a time-crunched commuter.
Valuable data – Traffic cameras that simply monitor car flows on roads and major arteries are often maintained by state departments of transportation. Along with monitoring the roads for accidents or major closures, footage from traffic cameras is influential in decisions regarding future road development and construction. Enforce laws – Cameras used to enforce speed and red light laws are effective in catching moving violations and issuing tickets. Encourage safe driving – Visible surveillance cameras posted at intersections can encourage safe driving habits and discourage moving violations.Risky Aspects of Traffic Security Cameras Weather – Whether they’re monitoring intersections or looking out for traffic jams, traffic cameras are subject to damage caused by weather. Heat, wind, rain, snow and ice can all damage or ruin a traffic security camera. Accidents – Since they’re placed on busy roads and intersections, there is also a chance that accidents could damage traffic cameras.Configuration Considerations for Roadway Cameras
Traffic monitoring cameras and red light or speed cameras have different purposes and therefore desrve seperate consideration when installing. Consider the following when looking to install traffic monitoring or red light camerasFor traffic surveillance cameras: What are the major roadways in your area? At what time is traffic in your area the heaviest (aka “Rush Hour”)? Are there certain features in roadways where traffic naturally congests? For speed and red light cameras: Are there any particular intersections in your area where accidents and violations are common? Are moving violations a particular problem in your area? Setup Advice for Traffic Surveillance CamerasFor speed and red light cameras: When installing cameras, make sure that all areas of the intersection are covered. Usually, cameras are placed above the signals or mounted on each corner of the intersection Consider installing a flash or other light source for night recording Consult with local law enforcement to find the most troublesome intersections Make sure your cameras are placed and calibrated to record the license plate data off of violating cars. To protect cameras against the elements, place them in environment-controlled housings.
For road surveillance and monitoring cameras: Place cameras so they overlook common congestion areas Make sure cameras have adequate visibility and a good view of all lanes involved Temperature and humidity controlled camera housings can help protect the camera against weather.