Traffic Surveillance Cameras Speed Up Traffic and Keep Roads Safe


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Traffic surveillance cameras smooth out traffic congestion that leads to costly and deadly accidents. Since 1997, the Utah Department of Transportation has used analog CCTV cameras to help emergency response teams, give drivers real-time road updates, and gather data on traffic snarls and patterns.

Collectively, this network of live traffic cameras is called the ATMS (Advanced Traffic Management System) and it was first implemented during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Now, Utah's traffic surveillance system will go digital making real-time accident and incident recovery that much faster on the new cameras. Though the new video surveillance system is almost twice as expensive as the older system, the new one will last longer and can be repaired more easily.

The digital cameras relate road condition information to dispatchers who inform drivers via Utah's 69 message signs that the road is closed, wet, or that there's an accident up ahead. Utah's Department of Transportation also interprets the camera data to evaluate and reprogram traffic signal lights in real-time to improve traffic flow in the case of football games or severe weather. The message boards also inform drivers of Amber alerts and construction road detours. The cameras are also linked to a web site ("Know Before You Go") that lets Internet users prepare for their drive before getting into their car.

In Atlanta, eight surveillance cameras were installed in Midtown as part of the first phase of a larger video surveillance program. The cameras are linked by a secure Nextel communications system that allows operators to quicken emergency response time to crime and accident scenes.

What about privacy issues?

Chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) show concern for the prevalence of these traffic cameras. Although they concede that these cameras are in public places, they assert that police officers and transportation officials need to be properly trained when using these cameras so that the images are used properly. The ACLU points out that these cameras could capture gay parades and protest rallies, and the subjects on those videos could theoretically find themselves blackmailed. They suggest that state legislatures need to write clear procedural guidelines and legislation that addresses the how's and why's of using video surveillance, as well as the privacy issues of the subjects’ likenesses when they are captured on video.

It is possible to achieve a balance between maintained public and transportation safety, while preserving citizens’ privacy rights. In this age of terrorism, video surveillance won't be disappearing since it is necessary to promote and preserve safety for the greater good.

Copyright © 2005 Evaluseek Publishing.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV surveillance systems for business, non-profit and home use. Her numerous articles include tips for saving both time and money when shopping for surveillance products; equipment reviews and reports; and other valuable insights. Learn more about CCTV cameras and video security systems when you visit today!


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