Advancements in camera technology and more affordable prices are giving road mangers the opportunity to incorporate them into their traffic management solutions.The surveillance camera segment of the global traffic management market is expected to gain the highest traction through 2023, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. Surveillance cameras offer several advantages to commuters, the report stated. “They provide valuable data of traffic and vehicles, which is maintained by the state departments of transportation…Further, the cameras record traffic patterns for future studies, observe and monitor traffic flow, and issue tickets in case someone violates traffic rules.”
Video processing and video monitoring open up many different possibilities for traffic management solutions. This is especially true now that processors are getting more powerful, storage is getting cheaper, and on-board analytics is becoming more commonplace.
Traditional surveillance cameras, however, have a number of drawbacks not idea for round-the-clock traffic management. Visibility can be obscured depending on the time of day — such as night time or if the camera is directly facing the sun, as well as by bad weather. This can affect the quality of detection and measure values.
Deploying thermal imaging cameras can help traffic managers overcome these issues. Unlike visible cameras, thermal sensors are less affected by external factors such as weather and lighting.
Jose Carlos Riveira, Strategy and Portfolio Management at Kapsch TrafficCom noted, “The most important advancement in imaging was already use of thermal sensors, that can somehow complement traditional cameras or even substitute visible-spectrum sensors. Some image-centric companies already have taken the business approach on integrating both technologies in their portfolio.”
Since the price of thermal imaging cameras has gone down significantly in recent years, they have become more accessible to the city surveillance and road monitoring markets.
Radar traffic measurement systems are also witnessing growth. José Luis Añonuevo, GM of Traffic Management Systems Operations at Indra explained that a radar is “nothing more than a microwave (or laser) sensor that measures speed and takes a picture of vehicles traveling above a certain speed.” However, when radar capabilities and thermal imaging are incorporated into the camera, it improves vehicle detection efficiency, especially in low light conditions (at night).
Paola Clerici, GM and CMO at Sprinx Technologies added that radar can also enhance the performance of object detection when combined with the radar information from video object tracking technology.
New 360-degree cameras, fish-eye or multiline, are also becoming more popular and more affordable for traffic management, according to Riveira. These cameras can provide a full view of an intersection by stitching together images and video from a suitable location, both from video surveillance, by using full digital PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) and video processing.
One thing to remember is that the network systems must be able to channel the flow of information coming from all these cameras. Añonuevo explained, “For example, if there is a road with 500 cameras, the network needs per camera, in high definition, go from 4 to 8 Mbps, which gives a global flow of 4 Gbps for real-time recording of cameras in the management centers, speeds that at this time are available without problems.” On the other hand, without the proper network systems in place, the efficiency and effectiveness of the cameras and overall traffic management system are at risk.