Allowing an estate, or the security team authorised by the homeowners’ association or body corporate to control traffic on a residential estate has long been a contentious issue, with many rejecting any notion of being fined for speeding on an estate because of the uncertainty surrounding the legality thereof – estate security operatives are supposedly not authorised to manage traffic in the same way as the Metro Police are. This state of affairs was pleasantly ended in a court case recently where an estate was officially recognised as able to enforce the rules of the estate when it comes to traffic management – including issuing fines.
Now, estates have a legal precedent to manage and fine people in the estate for traffic violations and any objections will be harder to combat in court. This means that speed limits are enforceable and issues of reckless driving can be dealt with by the relevant people on the estate.
However, before one can get too excited by this turn of events, estates need to find the solutions that will support them in the enforcement of traffic rules – simply accusing someone of driving too fast would not get all that much support. Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to two companies in the surveillance field to find out how estates can collect relevant and verifiable information on estate road hogs.
Markus Bodenstein, key account manager at Axis Communications agrees that traffic control and monitoring in estates has become a discussion point at many homeowners’ associations. “Part of creating a secure estate, is also ensuring that speeding cars aren’t an imminent threat.”
He adds, “There are multiple ways to monitor this and to catch the culprit. The most obvious way of doing this is time over distance. For example, have poles positioned 100 metres apart from each other with cameras monitoring them and then use software to detect the time that the vehicle has taken to travel across the 100 metres. We [Axis] have different video management solution partners that provide the software and we provide the hardware.”
For these solutions to work well, a cheap camera from your local supermarket won’t make the grade. In an estate the cameras will have to deal with all the usual external concerns, from wind and rain, dust and fog, different lighting conditions and perhaps even tampering. Moreover, they need to be integrated with other equipment to ensure the vehicles are monitored and there is a way to support further action. And you need to be sure that your video images are of high enough resolution to avoid any “oh that’s not me” excuses.
“Our cameras are ideally designed for environments like these – varying light conditions (car’s headlights, sunrise, sunset, street lighting), speeding objects, and harsh weather conditions,” adds Bodenstein. “We have a combination of technologies to ensure that the perpetrator’s number plate will be captured, and the vehicle identified. From a software perspective, there will be certain analytics put in place to create a trigger when a vehicle is travelling faster than the speed limit. This can then be presented as evidence.
Hikvision also has solutions in this area, not only as far as estates are concerned, but also a full Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) that has been installed in major intersections and checkpoints around the world. The company starts with its ANPR (automated number plate recognition) cameras which can be linked to its NVRs (network video recorders) where decisions can be made (from issuing fines to access control management).
The Chinese surveillance manufacturer also includes other equipment such as radar and even an LED display to show drivers what speed they are going. Added to this there can be strobe lights or a flash to ensure a good image of the number plate is collected after which everything is stored on a central server and processed as required. The analytics from the company can go further than number plate recognition, and includes vehicle classification (car, bike, truck etc.) as well as colour.
More than one task?
In an estate environment, cameras and other equipment used for speeding and behaviour monitoring on the roads can also be used for additional security and operational purposes. As mentioned access control can be enhanced with number plate recognition and if the cameras are set to determining if the queues at the entrance are too long, warnings can be issued and action taken to improve the throughput of people and/or vehicles, such as adding to the number of access officers on duty etc.
Now that the courts have given the green light to estate traffic control, it will be easier for estate managers to implement speed and reckless driving rules. How to do it depends on each estate and its overall security posture. Integrating camera speed monitoring with existing equipment will not only make things simpler, but could also allow for the ‘speed traps’ to be used in other security and operational areas as well, and this will make those who focus on budgets a little happier.
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