Cameras To Monitor Traffic Flow On Line

Friday, January 25th 2008, 7:27 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation continues installing cameras at interstate intersections and could soon be posting the pictures to the web.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports it's a national trend to monitor traffic with cameras and manage traffic flow by relaying messages to drivers on signs over the highway.  It's a system that ODOT plans to build up and maybe let the public see the pictures that come from the cameras.

It's easy for drivers to pass them without noticing, but high above some of Oklahoma's major interstates, ODOT cameras watch traffic go by.  The state installed the cameras to help monitor and manage traffic, even though most times no one is watching.

"We do not have a traffic operations center and big console with cameras all over the walls.  We have not progressed to that point, we don't know if we'll ever progress to that point," said ODOT Chief Engineer John Fuller.

The state installed 53 cameras in Tulsa and even more in Oklahoma City.

ODOT and the highway patrol can see the pictures, but not anyone else, even though some other states have them on the internet.

"When are we going to make available to the public the webcams...we are still researching that issue," said Fuller.

The camera system is designed to spot problems so drivers can then be warned through the message boards ODOT has installed over the highways.

"We used to dream of having that capability," said Fuller.

Fuller says the boards are far more important than the cameras, so that's ODOT's priority for the limited money available to expand the system.

"And we'll have some installed on the turnpikes approaching Tulsa because those people need to know they'll hit the end of the turnpike and if there's a situation on I-44, we need to be able to tell them about it," said Fuller.

The message boards rarely have anything on them, Fuller says, so that when they do drivers will pay attention.

The state says drivers can expect to see more of the signs and more of the cameras as they get money to install more.

The state will make a decision in the next couple of months on whether or not the pictures should be available to the public.  Even if they are, it will be a still picture that refreshes every few minutes, not moving video and nothing close up that could raise concerns about privacy.