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Traffic management cameras installed in busy contraflow

Siemens Building Technologies : 18 June, 2008  (Application Story)
Long term construction project in the London region monitored by Siemens surveillance systems for monitoring traffic flow and alerting the Highways Agency to breakdowns and accidents within the contraflow section of the A282
Traffic management cameras installed in busy contraflow
CCTV equipment supplied by Siemens Building Technologies Security Products has provided a versatile and effective basis for a temporary traffic-monitoring scheme devised, installed and operated by the Serco Group on the busy A282 road (M25 south of the Dartford crossing) in Kent. The construction project has been undertaken by Costain on behalf of the Highways Agency.

The CCTV system installed is an aid to locating and dealing with breakdowns, accidents and other incidents on a section of the road where a long-term contraflow is in operation during major road improvement works to ease traffic flow in the vicinity of the Dartford Crossing over the River Thames.

The installation incorporates 30 cameras to observe the traffic flow on the road, all of which are PTZ domes from the Siemens range. "In the past, we wouldn't have been able to use dome cameras," said Ian Kendal of Serco, "because we simply wouldn't have been able to get the zoom range we need with the lenses they could accommodate. Now, however, the latest Solaris dome cameras from Siemens can be fitted with 24:1 zooms, he continued. "This gives us everything we need, and allows us to take advantage of the lower cost, easier installation and robust construction of the dome cameras."

The cameras in use on the A282 installation all feature digital interfaces and are linked with the project's control room via single-mode optical fibre connections. Not only is this convenient to install, it also provides excellent performance, and is virtually immune to the effects of electrical interference.

The control room, where the images from the cameras are monitored, is equipped with 12 viewing screens. Two 32-inch screens show the main views selected by the operators, while 10 smaller screens are available to display pictures of the area around an incident, or for general monitoring over the whole of the area covered by the CCTV installation. Two operators are on-site twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Pictures from the cameras are stored on an Eventys Lite Digital Video recorder, also supplied by Siemens, which records on hard disk drives similar to those used in computer systems. In this project, the recordings are stored for a minimum of 60 days. They have proved to be of great value not only in evaluating incidents, but also in determining whether insurance claims made by motorists passing through the monitored area are valid.

Since the installation involves a large number of cameras, all of which can pan, tilt and zoom, the operators cannot always immediately recognise the area covered in a live image or in a recording. In order to address this issue, Siemens has incorporated a captioning system for the images, which superimposes text detailing the exact camera location and its direction of view.

"The system was easy to install and set up," said Ian Kendal, "and it has performed faultlessly. It enables us to direct breakdown trucks and other emergency assistance to hundreds of motorists and lorry drivers, and it is an essential tool in helping us to deal efficiently with more serious incidents. Compared with the costs associated with the traffic congestion that would inevitably have resulted had we not installed the CCTV system, it has recovered its installation and operational costs many times over."

When the section of the Dartford area road improvement scheme has been completed the Serco CCTV installation will no longer be needed and the equipment will, therefore, be removed and re-deployed at another site.
"It's gratifying to see that even after months of gruelling use, the Siemens equipment is still in excellent condition and entirely suitable for use elsewhere," said Ian Kendal. "At every stage of the project we've been pleased with the performance, versatility and reliability of the equipment, and now it's also demonstrating its outstanding durability. From our point of view, choosing equipment from Siemens was undoubtedly an excellent decision, both technically and financially."
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