INTRODUCTION TO TRAFFIC MONITORING CAMERAS

Where and why are traffic monitoring cameras used?

You have surely already seen traffic monitoring cameras during your route – and most likely your car’s license plate and its speed have also been recognized and measured.

From small streets to highways, traffic monitoring cameras provide a wide range of functionality. These special cameras are used to monitor the roads and traffic, mostly for safety reasons, e.g. immediately detect incidents and continuously collect real-time and accurate traffic data. But they are also utilized for tolling and maintaining smooth passenger flow.

Traffic monitoring cameras can be seen mounted on traffic light poles or gantries.

Key functions of traffic monitoring cameras

Vehicle identification

The most elementary function of a traffic monitoring camera is vehicle identification – a hardware-assisted or software-based feature that detects if a vehicle is present. It is also called triggering – when the vehicle is present, it triggers the camera to capture an image.

Vehicle identification is highly recommended for ANPR (see below), but it is used for general purposes as well, like traffic counting, measuring the traffic load on a given road, and more.

ANPR / LPR / ALPR

A key function of most traffic monitoring cameras is Automatic Number Plate Recognition – shortly ANPR, or sometimes other abbreviations are used, such as LPR – License Plate Recognition or ALPR – Automatic License Plate Recognition. ARH was amongst the first who started to design work with image processing based plate recognition, back in the early ‘90s.

A traffic camera with ANPR function is usually referred to as an ANPR camera.

ANPR is a traffic surveillance method based on optical character recognition (OCR). A specific OCR algorithm processes captured images or footage to recognize the plate characters. ANPR can be implemented in any traffic related application using an existing CCTV/IP camera system – but the best option is using dedicated ANPR traffic monitoring cameras, which ensure high recognition rates and true 24/7 operation (such as the models on this page). Many ANPR providers claim that their software is camera-agnostic, meaning that it does not need proprietary hardware or special ANPR cameras to work effectively. ARH ANPR software also supports camera-agnostic operation. In fact, we provide various on-premise and cloud solutions as well. But still, the truth is that the best ANPR results will come with purpose-made ANPR cameras, which in our case does not mean very expensive camera equipment, as we design and manufacture our cameras by our own, robotized factory in the heart of Central Europe. That alone is a unique value we propose in the industry: great prices combined with uncompromised quality.

Speed measurement

Traffic monitoring cameras are often used for measuring speed with that function, these models are also called speed cameras. Speed cameras do not just detect speeders but can be also used for checking the flow of traffic and automatically identifying traffic congestions.

Speed cameras utilize different types of technology to measure speed. The most widespread technologies include radar and laser-based speed measurement. Connected speed cameras usually as part of an ITS / Intelligent Transportation System may even be able to measure average speed as well, simply by comparing the time passed with the distance of a specific vehicle, between two measurement points.

Detection of traffic violations

Highly sophisticated traffic monitoring cameras also called as traffic enforcement cameras are capable of detecting traffic violations as well. These endpoints efficiently process live streams and using advanced AI technology, they are able to decide whether the traffic has a good service or if there is any irregular driver behaviour that may cause problems in traffic.

Advanced traffic monitoring cameras can detect the following traffic offenses:

  • Solid lane crossing
  • Wrong-way driving
  • Red light crossing
  • Not using safety belts
  • Exceeding speed limit
  • And more.

These traffic cameras can even automatically identify or predict accidents and congestion.

Guide for selecting the right traffic monitoring camera

When selecting the right model for your traffic management projects, you will need to take into consideration all project requirements, including technical specs, budget, environmental factors and more. We listed some factors that are important when selecting the camera.

ANPR: External or integrated

Thanks to today’s computing capacity, onboard ANPR is not impossible anymore. In such a case, the license plate recognition runs on the camera itself, and the output of the unit is the ready-to-use digital ANPR data.

However, there are several applications where server-based processing is more advantageous. When selecting traffic camera, it can be a decision factor whether it: should include onboard ANPR or not.

Speed measurement: with or without

Depending on the application type, speed cameras may be required – our models are available with or without this option.

You can get even average speed or section speed data between two measuring points by utilizing our powerful traffic data back office system: the Globessey Data Server (GDS).

Design: Fixed, portable or mobile?

Traffic monitoring cameras can be installed / used in 3 ways:

  • Fixed: in this case, the cameras are fixed to a pole or road gantry, and the key aim is having a reliable, long-term operation without changing or moving these units. One of our flagship fixed traffic monitoring cameras with onboard ANPR is the SmartCAM.
  • Portable: when designing portable cameras, the key factors are the following: being compact, should not take more space than a suitcase and should be able to set up in a short time. Portable cameras still work from a fixed position, unlike mobile cameras, however they can be also mounted inside a patrol car. Check out our most advanced portable traffic monitoring camera: the S1 speed measurement and traffic enforcement camera.
  • Mobile: mobile ANPR cameras are primarily designed to identify stationary or moving vehicles and recognize license plates even from a moving vehicle. These units are usually mounted on top of patrol cars, and constantly scan surrounding traffic. In this application type, there is no physical trigger input – the camera has to be able to automatically identify vehicles on its own. If you are interested, you can find more details on our MicroCAM product site.