City putting 160 cameras at 40 intersections SanTan Sun News

City putting 160 cameras at 40 intersections

City putting 160 cameras at 40 intersections
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By Kevin Reagan, Staff Writer

 

Cyclists peddling around Chandler may now be detected on 160 new traffic cameras that will be positioned at 40 various intersections. 

The Chandler City Council has approved spending about $1 million on the new cameras at intersections in west Chandler. 

The cameras are equipped with thermal technology that can better detect vehicles and cyclists traveling through intersections. 

When the camera sees a cyclist approaching an intersection, the traffic signal can adjust by extending the green-light time long enough for the cyclist to pass through. 

Dana Alviderez, the city’s transportation engineer, said Chandler’s current cameras only detect objects through images and can be temperamental during bad weather conditions.  

“This newer technology helps us bridge that gap and give better service to our signal service,” she said.

Flir Systems, the camera’s manufacturer, claims its technology also detects wrong-way drivers and animals entering a roadway. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation has been using Flir’s thermal cameras to catch several wrong-way drivers along Interstate 17 for the last couple of years. 

Chandler has a network of about 800 cameras positioned throughout the city it uses to manage traffic. Analysts scan video footage that’s fed through the network and modify signal times when traffic starts to back up. 

The cameras also have a “detection zone” that allows them to adjust signal times on their own without human interference. When an object crosses through the pre-programmed zone, then the camera can respond by extending a signal time. 

Several of the city’s existing cameras were installed 10 years ago and are considered outdated. Because cyclists generally move slower than vehicles, it’s believed the thermal cameras can tell analysts when to allow green lights to last a bit longer. 

These new cameras are not to be confused with the traffic-enforcement cameras used by the Chandler Police Department to catch speeders and red-light runners. 

The thermal cameras are used solely for traffic management and city staff cannot change a camera’s angle or zoom in on an object, officials said. 

Alviderez said the thermal cameras will further help achieve the city’s mission of being a leader in innovation. 

“It’s in line with some of the new strategies that were recently rolled out with implementing innovation and technology to improve mobility, enhance safety, promote efficiency for all the Chandler road-users,” she said.

Chandler has long considered itself a “smart city” and has been implementing new types of technology in its various departments 

A majority of the project’s cost is covered through a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The City Council agreed to contribute about $260,000. 

The city plans to purchase more cameras depending on the availability of grant funds. 

Twenty-four cyclists died in traffic accidents across Arizona in 2018 – a number that’s fluctuated over the last 10 years. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, 2017 saw a slight jump in fatalities with 32 cyclist deaths.

A 62-year-old cyclist was killed in Chandler in June after they were struck from behind by a motorist.

The Coalition for Arizona Bicyclists, a nonprofit that advocates for road safety, think technology like Chandler’s new cameras can help cities accomplish their duty of making roads safe for all users. 

“The Coalition is encouraged that Chandler is moving in that direction and likewise encourages other cities to ensure traffic signals detect all types of traffic, including bicycles,” said Ed Beighe, a coalition member.

The city has already tested the thermal cameras to ensure they can withstand the Arizona heat and staff will start replacing the old cameras over the next year.

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