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Traffic camera control and why it is important

There are around 200 million surveillance cameras in the world right now, and only 4.9 billion working-age people that could possibly watch over them. Human errors are fine and inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do whatever it to takes to avoid them. So how does it work?

Mauro Peixe

Co-founder and CTO

Oct. 11, 2019, 1:53 p.m.

It is not a secret that almost all of us are surveilled almost all of the time and all of the locations (and it shouldn’t be a secret, so far so good). Everybody who has been in a driving car at least once is aware of speed cameras that are in use on highways and not only. But how many have wondered, are there any other kinds of cameras and why are they there? Let me assure you, there are. And, believe it or not, they are there for our own safety, not for punishment. Isn’t something wrong with our mindsets nowadays that we think everything is primary for the punishment?

Wikipedia says: “A traffic camera is a video camera which observes vehicular traffic on a road. Typically, these are put along major roads and are connected with optical fibers buried alongside or even under the road, with electrical power either provided by mains power in urban areas, or via solar panels or another alternate power source which provides consistent imagery without the threat of a power outage during inclement conditions. A monitoring center receives the live video in real time, and serves as a dispatcher if there is a traffic collision or some other disruptive incident or road safety issue”, and that is true. What Wikipedia doesn’t say, however, is that there are better chances of monitoring it all, nowadays that technologies are smart enough to work by themselves and need only a bit of supervision from humans. That applies to all the cameras and, oh, it’s a game-changer.

There are around 200 million (that is a 2 with eight zeros) surveillance cameras in the world right now, and only 4.9 billion working-age people that could possibly watch over them.

Of course, not all, not even half, not even 1% of those billions are actually working in surveillance and/or security industry. We can do the maths but let me just spoil this for you and say that it is definitely not enough to notice everything or at least something. It is normal, though, we are not blaming the people in front of the cameras, they are simply humans, and human characteristics don’t enable us to function that way. Human errors are fine and inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do whatever it to takes to avoid them.

Let’s imagine a situation. You are driving on a highway, let’s say, 130 km/h, a little bit too fast, but everybody does that and you are simply going with the flow. Suddenly you realise that something is wrong, the flow is about to disrupt. Why? Who knows. Who to call? Who knows. Has anybody noticed? Who knows, once again. That’s where the cameras step in, that’s where their softwares (read: Heptasense) step in. A quick (really, it’s a matter of seconds) detection, a quick alert to the right computer screen somewhere in HQ, and the help is on the way, you don’t even have to worry, whether it’s somebody crashed or going backwards, or just an animal.

So how does it work?

First, there is a camera. Second, a software (again, read: Heptasense) is installed. Third, something happens on the road. From there on it’s just a big spiral (or a rollercoaster, you name it). The software detects the out-of-ordinary thing that has happened and alerts the guy (or girl, no prejudice here, of course) in front of the monitors somewhere probably far away. He (or she, once again) then pays closer attention to the particular camera the alert came from, uses its human power to properly detect and confirm the problem, and acts accordingly - decides, who to inform, who to send, who to call in order to prevent this thing in the most efficient way and secure uninterrupted usage of the road. The next thing you know, problem is solved, and you have not even had time to get irritated yet. Keep going, you’re safe!