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The twisting path to enforcement’s future

First publishedin ITS International
May June 2014
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Spot Speed Enforcement
Many authorities will continue to ask for spot speed enforcement equipment
Survey reveals some division of views about enforcement’s future as Colin Sowman discovers.

Technological advances and legislative changes pose many questions for those involved in road enforcement, ranging from the changing demands of privacy and data protection legislation to the practicalities on multi-speed enforcement. So to get the industry’s views ITS International took soundings on some of these bigger questions. In a world where many vehicles are fitted with GPS linked ‘black box’ Telematics systems that can instantly send an alert if a driver breaks a speed limit, some question the future for on-street enforcement.  To find the views of those most closely involved, we surveyed enforcement equipment suppliers and asked: What effect will the vehicle-mounted ‘black box’ (GNSS or Bluetooth) have on the need for on-street enforcement and why?

Our respondents’ were in no doubt that the use of ‘black box’ technology will increase and that this will be driven by the financial incentives insurance providers offer to drivers adopting the technology. However, none felt that the availability of this technology would spell the end of on-street enforcement – not in the near-term at least. Two of the main reasons highlighted by our respondents were the requirement for independent verification (as drivers could tamper with devices in their car) and the need for an acceptable legal framework for in-car enforcement.

Redspeed International’s managing director Robert Ryan said: “It is reasonable to anticipate a future where GPS, transponders or similar will replace the traditional cameras on poles - but not for some considerable time yet. The legal framework, practices and methodology will take time to develop into the strong governance that presides over enforcement cameras today.”
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Vitronic's Daniel Scholz
Vitronic's Daniel Scholz - There is a limit to privatisation as some responsibilities are clearly in the domain of public administration
Given that the rationale behind enforcement is to encourage drivers to obey the regulations, Richard Harris, solutions director with Xerox, felt an approach with greater driver benefits and less enforcement could yield better results. He feels the introduction of additional intelligent systems, such as adaptive speed management, will probably have a more positive influence on drivers than the use of vehicle mounted ‘black boxes’ as an enforcement tool.

Vitronic’s sales director Daniel Scholz holds different views: “Black boxes might also have a positive effect on driver behaviour as people are more likely to keep to speed limits knowing that in the event of an accident a violation would be recorded.”  He does, however, see another side to the debate: “As is often the case with onboard technology, there is the question of distribution and of technological standards. With on-street enforcement these questions are already answered so I do not think that in-vehicle technology will become a substitute for on-street enforcement any time soon.”

Gatso’s managing director Timo Gatsonides believes on-street enforcement systems will continue to be required to tackle fraud and verify if the license plates and vehicle type correspond with the ‘black box’ ID, or if the ‘black box’ has been corrupted.

Many of our respondents also highlighted privacy legislation (which we dealt with in a subsequent question) and Carsten Biermann, Jenoptik’s head of product management, raised the issue of fairness. On the positive side he said that, even only a minor share of vehicles using such ‘black boxes’ could decrease average speed on the streets, bringing with it the required result.

“But without additional enforcement equipment only the minor share of vehicles are subject to enforcement which is unfair.”

If our respondent’s views are correct there will be a continuing requirement for some form of on-street enforcement so we asked if ‘out-of-ground’ technology would be the future because of the reduced requirement for civil works?

HERE again there was some consensus, this time around the view that this would continue to be a case-by-case consideration for every authority and each application, and both Vitronic and Kapsch cited applications such as weigh in motion (WIM) installations. Martin Linauer, head of road safety enforcement at Kapsch said WIM “relies on sensors embedded in the road surface, out of sheer technological necessity”.

For Gatsonides, the drivers behind such moves are evident: “The enforcement industry is challenged to focus on reducing the total operating cost in the overall conceptual design of systems including, amongst others, non-invasive detection.”
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Richard Harris, Xerox
Richard Harris, Xerox - Adopting privatised enforcement is a trend that we will see more and more.
Out-of-ground technology is already a reality and becoming the norm according to Vitronic’s Scholz: “When we entered the market with LIDAR-based enforcement technology about ten years ago, in-road equipment was still widely common. This has changed as non-invasive enforcement is able to deliver precise measurements across multiple lanes. When you look at it today, the large road safety projects with more than 100 enforcement systems like the ones in the Middle East are all ‘out of the ground’.” 

While acknowledging that non-invasive and non-intrusive technology is gaining market share, Jenoptik’s Biermann believes in-road technologies can have advantages such as in harsh weather conditions or very complex traffic situations. “There is still a demand for in-ground systems and probably will be in the future.”

RedSpeed uses both in-ground and out-of-ground technology and Ryan said each has their advantages. “Each method of detection; be it laser, radar or sensors has a part to play in the future. Each will retain their advantages and will continue to be applied where they are best employed.” He said in-road sensors benefit from being lane-specific, with a high detection rate and can be applied at speed as low as 32km/h (20mph) making them useful for areas at high risk of collisions. Radar is more portable to enhance enforcement strategy over wider geographical areas while laser has similar detection rates to piezo sensors. He also adds that in nearly ten years’ experience using loops and piezos to measure speed, red light and speed on green, the technology has proved reliable and robust and provides an evidence trail.

Point-to-point or average speed enforcement has been gaining converts both in Australia (ITS International Sept/Oct 2013) and now in the UK where Transport Scotland has announced that it is installing average speed enforcement on 220km of the notorious A9 route (see News). Average speed systems have been shown to have a very beneficial effect in terms of modifying driver behaviour (particularly in roadworks sections) but after an initial bedding-in period tend to create little revenue. To find out the current mood we asked our suppliers: Which do most of your customers’ request?

Kria’s CEO Stafano Arrighetti sums up the general feeling of our participants saying the beneficial effect on traffic average speed of point-to-point is clear and that lower revenues are not the main factor preventing the wider adoption of average speed enforcement.
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Corrado Franchi, Tattile
Corrado Franchi, Tattile - Average speed enforcement cut road death by more than 52% in less than five years.
“P2P solutions have a better influence on driver’s compliance over a longer distance than spot systems as drivers know they are monitored over a longer distance,” says Jenoptik’s Biermann, adding: “However there are limitations like the number of exits and entrances over a specific distance, so large international customers often request a mix of different speed enforcement solutions.”

For such reasons, Kria’s Arrighetti said, “spot installations are far simpler and spot will be always requested by police and administrations”.

RedSpeed predicts the average speed market will grow in two main categories: the 32km/h (20mph) protection zones for residential areas and near hospitals or schools and on motorways, particularly ‘Smart Motorways’.

Tattile’s CEO Corrado Franchi points out that there are also shortcomings with spot speed saying commuters soon learn where devices are positioned or where the police hide to use portable systems. He also makes the point that speed enforcement devices aren’t considered as a money trap, but as instruments created to really protect human lives.

These views are echoed by Xerox’s Harris who added that experience in The Netherlands and Belgium has shown average speed control reduces traffic emissions, speed and accidents as well as calming traffic flow.

Scholz reports that Vitronic currently sells more spot speed enforcement than point-to-point “but we do see demand for average speed enforcement increasing.” Franchi is also seeing an increasing number of requests for average speed enforcement systems: “HERE in Italy we have a system called Tutor with 1,300 units covering more than 2,400km of highways. According to the police this cut road deaths by more than 52% in less than five years.”

Wherever automated enforcement (or surveillance) systems operate around the world they have to comply with all local regulations although technology has developed far faster than most country’s legal framework in many countries. As legislative frameworks continue to evolve apace (see page 36) we asked: Will an increase in privacy and data protection regulations force changes in enforcement methods and technology?

This question exposed some sharp division of approach among our respondents. These ranged from Kapsch’s “we do not foresee any significant changes in enforcement methods and technology” to Xerox’s “we have anticipated the increase in privacy and data protection regulation by developing new technologies.”
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Average speed enforcement from RedSpeed
RedSpeed says Average speed enforcement has proved its worth in traffic calming in road works.
Germany has some of the toughest privacy legislation in the world and for instance with the country’s truck tolling scheme, all data relating to vehicles identified as not being trucks is deleted immediately. This need for privacy has lead German firm Vitronic to develop its own encryption technology and a proprietary file format for the transfer of case data. Even so Scholz says some legislation does restrict certain enforcement technologies and in some German states the deployment of ‘wanted cars’ technology is very limited.”

RedSpeed’s Ryan raises a pertinent point saying that in order to meet the privacy rules many systems are configured to automatically delete data relating to vehicles that have not committed an offence but in doing so other potential benefits may be lost. These can include traffic flow counting and journey time management as well as detecting vehicles of interest to the police following an incident or with cloned licence plates, spotting stolen or uninsured vehicles and those on a watch list.

However others defend the automatic deletion approach because it eliminates any potential for the data being used for other purposes. According to Gatsonides: “Without proper legislation and enforcement this information could be used for other purposes and we may see the introduction of more laws to limit how much a vehicle or person can be tracked.”

In some countries – notably Sweden – the authorities prosecute errant drivers rather than the registered owner of the vehicle and so require enforcement photographs showing the driver’s face. This makes an exception to the rule as most enforcement cameras are rear-facing because motorcycles do not have a front licence plate and red light cameras need to capture the signal in the image. But that situation may also be changing. “We actually see an increase in customers that require the face of the driver to be recognisable because of a point system on drivers’ licenses,” Gatsonides says.

Another subject that divides the industry in general and our respondents in particular, is the topic of privatised enforcement. “This question cannot be answered on a general level,” says Biermann at Jenoptik.  “Country-specific legislation and other circumstances have to be taken into account to decide whether or not to opt for privatised enforcement. In order to be able to implement the right enforcement solution it is indispensable that domestic traffic regulations which apply to the local requirements can be enforced. Cases show that this is possible with partly privatised and fully public enforcement.”

“Privatised enforcement is a trend we cannot ignore,” according to Kapsch’s Linauer, and he adds traffic law enforcement based on the public private partnership principle is “a model we actively pursue”. In a similar vein Xerox’s Harris says: “Adopting privatised enforcement is a trend that we will see more and more. Private companies can offer municipalities the financial support and the technical innovation necessary to both optimise and improve traffic enforcement.”

Both Gatso and RedSpeed expressed similar views that the key to public acceptability depends on the legal framework, proper oversight by a government agency and equipment calibration carried out by reputable institutes. “As long as a sound, just and fair legal premise is observed, the share of public/ private control is flexible but solid rules and agreement need to be in place before the first camera is installed. Otherwise, the whole process loses credibility,” said RedSpeed’s Ryan.
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Vysionics SPECS3  Nottinghamshire
Vysionics SPECS3 in Nottinghamshire
In considering the privatisation of enforcement, Jenoptik’s Biermann said one of the most important factors is the remuneration model. “A model based on number of tickets issued or the total of fines may remove a lot of financial burden from the public budget. But they are often not very well accepted by the public since they are perceived as a money-making model for the Provider rather than an investment in safety.”

Another qualified enthusiast is Scholz at Vitronic who said: “Privatising the enforcement operation frees up human and financial resources and allows authorities to concentrate on the core responsibilities of public administration. It also has a positive effect on enforcement as, with the support of private organisations, authorities are able to increase the frequency of enforcement and the area covered.”

But he also adds a note of caution: “There is a limit to privatisation as some responsibilities are clearly in the domain of public administration; such as prosecution.”

These comments expose where the division of opinion occurs and the alternative view comes from Vysionics’ sales and marketing director Geoff Collins, who said: “I am concerned about such an approach, because private companies are driven by profit making. 

This will undoubtedly encourage operators to maximise the number of violations detected. So where a system is effective in reducing congestion and casualties, the operator may be tempted to increase the detection rate: this can only be achieved by making the road more hazardous so should be avoided.  Governmental agencies are not driven by profit, so a system would be operated in the most appropriate way, rather than as a revenue raiser.”

In many countries different categories of vehicle are subjected to different speed limits on the same section of road which leads to the requirement to enforce two or three speed limits simultaneously. This can lead to complications for enforcement agencies that may have to select which category of vehicle to check at any particular occasion. Against that background we posed the question: Is it possible and practical for agencies to simultaneously enforce the three of four separate speed limits for different category vehicle in using a particular section of road?
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Gatso - Focus on the Operating cost reduction
Gatso says the enforcement industry is challenged to focus on reducing the total operating cost
To the most part our respondents said this was already being done in a variety of ways although there was not a unanimous welcome. Biermann is an enthusiast: “Enforcing the different speed limits based on vehicle classification will encourage drivers of all vehicle types to comply with the appropriate speed limit and increase traffic safety. As a supplier we see an increasing demand for solutions that allow simultaneous enforcement of several speed limits for different vehicle categories.”

Kria’s Arrighetti added: “From our experience the extra information is of great assistance to the police.”  Ryan went further saying the roll out of ITS system on motorway infrastructures is a prime opportunity not only to categorise vehicles but also monitor their behaviour and position with respect to other vehicles on the strategic road network.

However, Collins at Vysionics raised a note of caution about technical and logistical challenges. “In my experience, it is more effective to keep an enforcement regime simple, thus removing the chance of ambiguity.  In this way, only one enforcement type would take place at any one time, and this would be dynamically changed to a sensible schedule.”

Harris highlighted the wider categorisation enforcement issues citing the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in The Netherlands. It uses a system whereby ANPR cameras read the registration plate of every vehicle entering the zone to determine whether it is a car or a truck. With the inevitability of more LEZs similar systems could become far more widespread.

In conclusion, even if our participants have different visions of the future of enforcement equipment and the legislative framework in which it will operate, they are at one in predicting that there will be a continuing need for street-level enforcement.

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