In the late 1990s, Monroe County, New York, Department of Transportation (MCDOT) initiated a project to integrate ITS technologies into its traffic management infrastructure to improve traffic operations throughout the City of Rochester, New York and along the County's arterial roadways. As a result of that effort, the regional traffic operations center (RTOC) opened in 2002. The RTOC is a joint transportation facility financed by the Monroe County Department of Aviation (MCDA), the MCDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The MCDOT lacked real-time visual traffic surveillance capability at RTOC. To address this need, MCDOT undertook the ITS Camera Deployment and Systems Integration Project. During the first phase, five CCTV camera deployments were made. Installation began in September 2004, with construction and acceptance testing completed in February 2005. In 2006, MCDOT completed an evaluation of these initial five CCTV installations.
An evaluation plan was developed to identify the impact, if any, the monitoring capability established by the installation of CCTV cameras has had on the management of intersection traffic as well as to identify the benefits and/or costs, monetary and functional, experienced as a result of the system integration plan. Performance measures were developed and a data collection plan was set in motion to gather the necessary information.
The evaluation report contains a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures to assess the effectiveness and benefits derived from Monroe County’s five initial CCTV deployments.
While interviewing RTOC operators to review intangible benefits from the installation of CCTV, the evaluation team could derive the following lessons learned:
- Expand a camera's coverage from one approach to all approaches of an intersection. Operators recommended a "fish-eye zoom" function that would expand a camera's coverage from one approach to all approaches of an intersection by displaying local detail and its surrounding global context in a single view. With this function, RTOC operators can observe traffic flow on more than one approach at a time and monitor the effect of timing adjustments in one direction while ensuring that crossing flow is not severely affected.
- Use color mode in camera to improve night time vision. During the night time, the performance of black and white mode camera was generally poor. Glare from approaching headlights was a problem to the operators. The use of color mode at all times can improve night time vision.
- Place a message on the screen indicating the availability (or unavailability) of the camera. When more than one person may need to use a specific camera at the same time, there is no way to know which individual has control of the camera other than asking those within the RTOC control room. By placing a message on the screen indicating which operator is in control of the camera, confusions of using camera can be avoided.
The lessons learned provide insights on improving the usefulness of CCTV cameras in traffic management. Future CCTV cameras need to have functions covering all approaches of an intersection and color mode for the better vision during night time. Also, to avoid confusions when more than one person need to use a specific camera at the same time, placing a message on the screen is recommended. These lessons, if implemented, are expected to help improve the efficiency and mobility of traffic signals.