Key questions for councils adopting the enforcement of moving traffic contraventions for the first time

Councils outside London and Wales will soon be taking responsibility for enforcing moving traffic contraventions away from police forces. Gear Change, the government’s new walking and cycling strategy, includes reference to commencing the remaining elements of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. This will enable councils to enforce the full range of moving traffic contraventions including:

• Bus Lanes • Bus Gates • Banned Turns • Box Junctions • Mandatory Cycle Lanes • Red Routes • Restricted Access • Weight Limits • School Keep Clears

However, with the increasing pressure on budgets, councils must find ways to reduce overhead costs and increase efficiency without impacting on the delivery of this enforcement. Here are six questions to help councils to achieve ‘best value’.

1. Automated or Manual?
Automated, unattended enforcement platforms deliver higher levels of productivity at a lower cost than can be achieved with traditional, manually operated systems which require operatives to monitor each camera location to identify contraventions and construct evidence packs. As well as eliminating the restricted working hours and shift patterns that limit the overall effectiveness of manually operated systems, automated systems provide a quick and three-click process to review evidence packs and produce PCNs without requiring the use of manual cropping and data protection tools to cut and paste still images and video footage to construct evidence packs. Importantly, councils that have automated the enforcement process have also reported up to a six fold increase in performance and productivity in comparison to legacy manual systems.

2. Multi-Tasking or Single Point?
Using a single, multi-tasking digital video platform, such as Videalert’s, significantly reduces costs when compared to legacy, single point product solutions. It also delivers higher levels of future proofing as it supports multiple civil traffic enforcement, traffic management, parking, crime prevention and improved community safety applications simultaneously using the same infrastructure.

These centralised platforms also facilitate the sharing of data to multiple stakeholders, including the police, transport and highways teams, car parking operators and community safety partnerships. This enables available budgets to be leveraged, provides extended coverage at a lower cost and increases the value of the information captured.

3. Flexible or Fixed Infrastructure?
Digital enforcement platforms use standard off-the-shelf equipment and seamlessly integrate with existing CCTV systems and infrastructure used by local authorities. As well as supporting existing analogue cameras, such platforms allow a progressive migration from analogue to digital camera environments. The ability of these platforms to support the industry standard (ONVIF) for IP cameras, access control and edge based video storage is crucial. It means that local authorities no longer need to be locked into products from a single vendor, but can choose “best of breed” and evolve their infrastructure as new technologies come along.

Costs can be further minimised by combining the same infrastructure wherever possible. For example, Videalert’s re-deployable WAN units support multiple cameras and enforcement activities negating the need to have a “processor on a pole” for every traffic management activity.

4. Mobile Enforcement Options?
Mobile Enforcement Vehicles (MEV) can also be integrated into these digital video platforms. Councils have a wide choice of options when determining the type of vehicle to meet their specific requirements. As well as providing traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicles, Videalert offers a flexible choice of alternative solutions including hybrid and fully electric MEVs. Such vehicles 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 forward and rear facing dual camera units which can be used to enforce permit parking zones. Importantly, Videalert MEVs deliver high levels of productivity as number plate read rates of over 98% can be achieved in a wide range of applications with vehicles being driven at normal road speeds.

5. Clean Air and Low Emission Zones?
Multi-tasking digital video platforms also provide an effective way to monitor and manage clean air and low emission zones at the same time as enforcing moving traffic contraventions. The cameras provide real-time capture of every vehicle entering the zone, data which is then assessed based on vehicle class/classification, engine type and Euro standard rating to determine whether the vehicle has paid the valid charge. Those vehicles that are either below the required Euro rating standard or have not paid the valid charge will then be issued with a penalty charge notice.

Councils can cross correlate the impact of improved driver compliance with the improvements in air quality using air quality monitors that capture real-time data capture on the level of airborne particulates, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide. As well as showing the levels of gas and particulate matter at different times throughout the day and night, this data can be combined with CCTV data to strengthen and validate the business case for the adoption of moving traffic enforcement restrictions to further improve the effectiveness of clean air and low emission zones.

6. Hosted Enforcement Solutions?
DfT Manufacturer Certified hosted solutions are now commonly deployed as they eliminate the need for council’s 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 the alleged offence over the internet.

As well as enabling additional enforcement activities to be procured on demand with installations taking place in weeks rather than months, 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. They are available for a fixed monthly cost per location or on a fee-per-transaction basis and include the planning, supply, installation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance of all necessary on-street equipment with the latest digital cameras and associated communications connectivity.

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