How to specify the perfect MEV

Mobile Enforcement Vehicles (MEVs) have traditionally been easy to specify as they were typically equipped to carry out predetermined activities with little flexibility to be used for anything else. The technologies deployed have moved forward significantly and automation has replaced the previous manually operated systems.

The latest generation of multi-purpose MEVs can be equipped with a complete suite of traffic and parking management software. These on-board systems are totally automated and can be used tactically for a wide range of applications where safety or compliance issues have been identified.

Councils are now faced with a multitude of choices.

What do you want to use MEVs for?
MEVs can be used for a wide variety of applications and, being multi-purpose, a major consideration for councils is to determine in advance the areas in which the vehicles are to be deployed. These applications can include:

  • Parking on school keep clear markings
  • Parking on bus stop clearways, bus lanes and on red routes
  • Parking in resident or cashless parking zones without valid permits
  • Entering School Streets or Low Traffic Neighbourhoods during prohibited periods
  • Box Junctions, banned turns, weight restrictions and access only streets
  • Cashless parking sessions
  • Workplace Parking Levy
  • Detection of suspected blacklist vehicles
  • Multi-zone data gathering for compliance mapping

It is worth noting that under current legislation the enforcement of moving traffic contraventions can only be carried out by councils in London and Wales. However, this is expected to change in 2021 so, in readiness, councils should be looking to future proof their investment in MEVs in advance.

How accurately will the MEV capture number plates?
This is a fundamental issue that must be considered in order to maximise productivity. Specifying the latest ONVIF-compliant HD CCTV cameras will ensure that crisp images of reflective number plates can be captured at distances of up to 40 metres. When used in conjunction with the latest video analytics, these cameras can deliver number plate read rates in excess of 98%. Of course, we are all used to taking such claims from manufacturers with a pinch of salt and it is essential to find out how these claims stack up in the real world out on the streets. Some MEVs can only capture number plates if driven slowly and often require a second pass to achieve acceptable read rates. In comparison, Videalert’s MEVs achieve these high read rates with just a single pass at normal road speeds. The cameras also have full colour overview modules to capture contextual images of vehicles in both daylight and challenging light conditions.

What camera configurations can be specified?
MEVs can be fitted with a wide range of CCTV cameras depending on the applications that the vehicle will be used for:

  • Attended Mode: A roof-mounted HD PTZ camera on an extendable mast can be manually operated for range of parking and traffic enforcement applications including School Streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, school keep clears, bus stops, red routes and clean air and low emission zones.
  • Unattended Mode: Two or four roof-mounted fixed HD cameras with integrated infra-red lighting enable MEVs to capture VRMs with contextual images for parking and traffic enforcement applications including School Streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, school keep clears, bus stops, red routes, clean air and low emission zones as well as permit, pay & display and cashless parking bays. They can also be used to detect suspect blacklist vehicles or provide VRM Data gathering for traffic analytics.
  • Combined Mode: Using a combination of PTZ with a mast and fixed cameras, MEVs can improve compliance in any parking and traffic enforcement application.

What type of vehicle platform?
Whilst the government has recently stated that sales of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2030, this should not preclude councils from putting such vehicles on the road until then. However, companies such as Videalert now provide councils with a greater choice of vehicle platform. As well as traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicles, Videalert offers a wide range of alternative solutions including hybrid and fully electric MEVs which enable councils to enforce a wide range of moving traffic, parking and clean air zone contraventions whilst demonstrating their commitment to reducing emissions. Videalert also provides electric bikes equipped with two dual camera units, one forward and one rear facing, which can be used to enforce permit parking zones.

Will MEVs work with clean air & low emission zones?
MEVs can be used to complement pole-mounted static cameras installed at the perimeter of Clean Air and Low Emission Zones. They can provide the same functionality enabling the real-time identification of vehicles by classification, make, model, colour, gross weight, engine type, Euro rating and CO² emission band to determine if the vehicle is permitted in the zone without charge. For vehicles that have to pay a charge, VRM data is sent to the payment system for checking whether the correct tariff has been paid for entry into the restricted zone. MEVs can also be used to determine the extent of contraventions by ‘high’ pollutant vehicles in any target location to establish potential charging rates/bands prior to CAZs and LEZs being launched.

Can MEVs share data with other key stakeholders?
The data captured by MEVs can be shared with other traffic management, crime prevention and community safety applications. For example, the platform integrates with UTMC systems to assist with activities such as journey time reporting to enable motorists to better plan their journeys. It also provides valuable data input for traffic modelling systems used to improve traffic flows and reduce both congestion and pollution.

We already have MEVs – can they be updated and reused?
Videalert’s engineering hub provides an MEV refit service to cost effectively extend the operational life of existing assets. This service enables councils using older vehicles from other manufacturers to replace legacy analogue technology with digital HD cameras to drive significant increases in productivity and efficiency. There is no restriction regarding the types of vehicles that can be upgraded.

What infrastructure is needed to deploy an MEV?
Councils that have already installed Videalert’s unique digital video platform will find it quick and easy to add an MEV. In fact, Videalert is the UK’s only supplier with the ability to provide a full suite of CCTV traffic and parking management solutions comprising attended, unattended and mobile using the same intelligent platform. This allows councils to quickly extend enforcement to other areas without having to make further investments in IT infrastructure.

Councils that do not have the required infrastructure can use DfT Manufacturer Certified hosted solutions which eliminate the need to procure and deploy any equipment within their IT infrastructures or install software on local PCs for evidence pack review. Images of contraventions are transmitted to Videalert’s hosted digital video platform where evidence packs can be viewed and validated prior to sending to back office systems for the issuance of penalty charge notices (PCN). To reduce the number of appeals, PCN recipients can view still photographs and video footage of their alleged offences online. Videalert’s hosted services can be delivered through a variety of flexible commercial models to improve efficiency, increase income and deliver greater control over costs.

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