Cameras on, but nobody watching; newly installed cameras used for traffic sensors
Residents of Hammonds Plains, N.S. are no doubt wondering about the sudden proliferation of what appear to be surveillance cameras in their neighbourhood.
“We were driving through and noticed they were putting them up,” says resident Jeanette Stone. “I said to my husband, ‘it’s a good thing, because now it’ll show proof of some of these accidents that have been happening there,’.”
The Department of Transportation has been installing the new cameras at intersections along the busy Hammonds Plains Road.
Perched on poles atop the traffic lights, people who travel this way say they’re difficult to miss.
“My first reaction when I saw them was whether or not that infringes on my privacy,” explained Lisa Courage, a stylist who works at a nearby mall.
But officials say that’s not actually the case. At this time, the cameras are not set-up to record anything, and are simply being installed for traffic control, replacing electric sensors in the pavement that trigger the traffic lights.
“We don’t record anything. This is purely for monitoring vehicles,” explains Andrew Thomas, a Halifax Regional Municipality Traffic Signal Engineer. “It doesn’t get recorded and it’s just a detection system, that’s all.”
The sensors in the pavement still work, but will be destroyed in an upcoming paving project. Officials say the new system is more efficient and should improve traffic flow.
But some residents say they wish the cameras were in fact recording.
“I was actually wondering if it was going to be for road safety, because we have a lot of issues out there with accidents, so, I was hoping that it would deter that,” says Lisa Courage.
“That is a particularly sketchy intersection for having accidents,” agrees Matt Whitman, councillor for Hammonds Plains- St. Margaret’s. “People sometimes run the light or go through the light when they shouldn’t.”
Thomas says moving the sensors above ground will also mean fewer potholes.
The transportation department plans to install three other sets of cameras along the Hammonds Plains Road in upcoming weeks.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.