CCTV Enables Efficient Traffic Flow through Kent
After successfully installing the original Kent County Council Traffic Management Centre (TMC) in Maidstone in 2001 and many important subsequent Highways projects, it's not surprising that Secure Engineering was called in once again to deliver a major new installation project. This project will help the notoriously heavy traffic flow more efficiently through busy town centres in Kent.
Work is underway by the Kent based CCTV specialist Secure Engineering to increase the number of traffic flow surveillance cameras in Kent. The project will see upwards of 30 cameras installed in a countywide contract. Phase one includes Maidstone and Canterbury city centres and trunk road installations at key urban junctions around Kent.
Working closely with Kent County Council (KCC) Highways Department and local contractors, Secure Engineering is installing the latest technology to include; 15 metre camera columns, high-performance PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras and roadside cabinets to house the power, DVR servers and modems. This brings the total number of traffic surveillance cameras in Maidstone town centre alone to 18. The information picked up from the live cameras across Kent is fed back to the KCC Traffic Management Centre in Miller House, Maidstone. The control centre uses the information to oversee and manage urban traffic flow. Commenting on the precise installation of the camera columns, Clifford Corne, Managing Director for Secure Engineering said, "This project involved a lot of preparation and planning of the fine details. By working closely with the other contractors we were able to complete phase one safely, on time and with minimal disruption to traffic."
He continues, "The advanced Ganz C Allview PTZ cameras being installed are ideal for traffic surveillance in urban locations because they can be programmed with privacy zones, which means that part of the picture can be blanked out, for example where there are private houses within view of the camera." Kent Highways determined preferred locations for the cameras with advice from Secure Engineering. Kent Highway's civil engineering contractor, Ringway, organised the piling and civils works in preparation for the column installation.
A new, approved system of fixing the camera columns was devised, a method now adopted by KCC for future installations.
"When working in urban locations, it is often not appropriate to excavate the large holes normally required to install the columns. There simply is not the space and it is necessary to minimise disruption to traffic during the installation," added Tim Sampson, Project Manager for Secure Engineering. The new method involves driving tubular metal piles into the ground to a depth of 4½ metres. The column mounting assemblies fixed to the piles were specifically engineered to comply with Highways Agency approval, even down to precise tightening of the fixing nuts with a specifically designed torque wrench - procured by Secure Engineering for the job. As part of a separate tender, 10 VMS (Variable Message Sign) posts, were also installed using the same mounting method in Maidstone, by Secure Engineering.
The new Traffic Management Centre system is a fully IP-based, flexible and expandable installation based around two large Barco 72" rear projection video walls and a BBV 'Pick-a-Point' Graphical User Interface control system with maps and icons. All cameras are streamed at source by Dedicated Micros DVR Servers and fed back to the TMC by broadband, high-speed KPSN network or wireless connections. Remote diagnostics and maintenance are simplicity itself with just a VPN connection to a Secure Engineering laptop. Traffic monitoring will be particularly welcome at two of Maidstone's busiest points, at the junction of A26 and A20 at Rocky Hill, and at the junction of A20 and A229 on the gyratory at Fairmeadow. Work is due to start on the next phase of the project which involves the installation of six traffic surveillance CCTV cameras in Canterbury town centre.
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Waste Nick Chard said, "Our Traffic Management Centre enables us to effectively manage and report upon the performance of Kent's road network. We have invested in further infrastructure that provides greater insight and coverage across key urban areas such as Maidstone, Canterbury and Gravesham. The successful development and use of systems such as automatic number plate recognition, CCTV cameras, variable message signs and vehicle detectors enable our operators to provide 'hands-on' management of Kent's traffic systems." Clifford Corne added, "We are proud to be working together with Kent Highways to enhance their traffic management system to control urban traffic flow, ease congestion, and get traffic information out to the public through Variable Message Signs and websites."