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Optimal Combination for Traffic Monitoring

Optimal Combination for Traffic Monitoring
Traffic monitoring requires coordinated efforts, and MOBOTIX cameras help simplify the process and reduce resources involved. Image quality is not sacrificed in any way, and the control center can still find the information it needs and take appropriate actions.

De Fusball kummt haam, or football is coming home, is a Palatinate phrase that clearly indicates where the people there believe the home of football is: Kaiserslautern since the 1950s, at least. During the 1950s, F.C. Kaiserslautern, the city's football club, won the German championship twice (1951 and 1953). At that time, Fritz and Ottmar Walter, along with three other club members, formed the backbone of the legendary German national team which won the World Cup in Bern in 1954. In 1991 and 1998, the team won the German championship yet again, and in 1990 and 1996the DFB Cup. In 2006, Kaiserslautern was proud to be one of the 12 World Cup venues in Germany.

High-tech Hub

Kaiserslautern, with its population of 105,000, has also made quite a name for itself internationally as an IT location for the past few years. In the 1990s, for example, the so-called PRE-Park was built, in which businesses in the information and communications industries settled and 75 companies with 2,350 jobs found an attractive home. A follow-up projectthe "PRE-Uni-Park", which was launched in 2003is a place where modern research companies have set up their businesses.

It is, thus, not really a surprise that state-of-the-art technology has been used in Kaiserslautern in many aspects of football stadium security. WVE, for example, has installed a complex traffic monitoring system throughout the entire city, at the autobahn exits and in large parking lots.

An Affordable Solution

Fifty-seven MOBOTIX network cameras make up the "eyes" of the traffic surveillance system. The cost for all the equipment, including the cameras, control center and installation, is approximately US$270,000. This means that, of all the 12 World Cup cities, Kaiserslautern has by far the most cost-effective traffic monitoring system.

Keeping the Traffic Flowing

All Clear

On Saturday, June 17, 2006, the whistle was blown to start the World Cup match between Italy and the U.S. For the Americans, it was almost a home game. After all, there are more than 40,000 U.S. soldiers and family members stationed in Kaiserslautern. More than 100,000 visitors were in the city: 46,000 in the sold-out Fritz-Walter Stadium and the rest on the fan mile and at the public-viewing locations downtown. With this amount of traffic, it was a good thing that unrestricted mobility was one of the top priorities for the organization of the World Cupand without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges a World Cup city had to face.

"That's why we created 15,000 parking spaces on the outskirts of the city and considerably increased the frequency and range of public transitthe measures that we initiated to try and keep vehicles out of the city center," explained Chief-of-Police Siegfried Ranzinger, who was responsible for all the traffic flow management and control in Kaiserslautern during the World Cup. "In addition, we set up four different main routes that led to the Fritz-Walter Stadiumparticularly for the shuttle. Traffic had to move along freely on these routes."

Clear Shots

Jurgen Dressing, who heads the Department of Law and Order in Kaiserslautern, commissioned the community services provider, WVE, with the technical project to develop, plan and implement the required traffic monitoring system. Together with master electrician Dieter Burkey and technician Ralf Kattler, project leader Michael Theis was responsible for the selection of the features and functionality as well as installation of the cameras.

With the whole world watching, it was absolutely vital that everything worked right down to the last detail. "The reliability of MOBOTIX cameras was certainly one of the most important reasons," Michael Theis said. "The cameras also deliver excellent images, are network-compatible and are good value for the money. In addition, we are also using these products in other projects and are very satisfied with the results."

UMTS Transmission

To avoid the cost of cabling and re-cabling, the project group opted for a mobile solution for the transmission of image signals: All MOBOTIX cameras were networked to the control center using Mobile Connect Cards from Vodafone and Mobile Connect Boxesa development of system supplier konzeptpark. In other words, the image data was transmitted via UMTS. Each camera sent a 640x480 image every 30 seconds, which the UMTS bandwidth could easily accommodate. The low frame rate was chosen to save on transmission costs, while still allowing for a reliable evaluation of the prevailing traffic conditions. If desired, it would be possible to have images sent every 10 seconds. Another advantage of this solution was that camera positions could be changed quickly and at short notice, meaning that not only was the system affordable and flexible, but it was also quick and easy to install.

Remote Control

Camera images were transmitted via a receiving station and a VPN tunnel to be stored on an FTP server. "In contrast to the monitoring systems used in the other World Cup cities, the images were four times higher in resolution in VGA format, transmitted in 640x480 pixels," Theis explained. "That's why we were able to obtain a much higher degree of detail at almost the same image size and 30-percent JPEG quality, instead of the usual CIF format with 352x288 pixels. This made it possible to get an exact impression of the situation on site directly in the traffic control center." A corresponding server-client application and the easy-to-use user interface, which was individually customized to meet the special needs of the police, also ensured that everything was running smoothly.

On the days when games were played, there was no room to spare in the control center. Approximately 25 employees from the police, the city, technical services and emergency medical services evaluated the incoming information from the traffic monitoring system and were ready to take action immediately, if necessary. In addition, some of the bus lines were monitored; the traffic radio station was kept up to date; and the traffic signals were controlled as required.

Invaluable Assistance

"The monitoring system was an incredible help in getting our job done," Ranzinger recalled. "It allowed us to monitor all relevant traffic intersections at the same time, to assess how complicated a possible problem might become and to react as quickly as possible."

Theis was happy that the system not only stood the test in advance during the German Football League trial games, but also proved itself during the World Cup. By the way, the U.S. team was able to manage a 1:1 tie against Italy, despite the fact that they were a player short. As expected, there were no signs of traffic chaos, neither before nor after the game.

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