Croydon’s pilot ALPR-based school pedestrian zone enforcement system to become permanent

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As one of several initiatives to improve the London borough’s environment, Croydon council has announced that a pilot digital-enforcement scheme, developed to restrict parking and create safe pedestrian zones outside three schools, is now to be made permanent.

Safety concerns had been raised by the public and the schools that led to the council wanting to trial an experimental scheme for traffic enforcement outside three schools in the borough. They approached Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems (UK) to deploy a solution by expanding the company’s existing digital enforcement system that has been in use to enforce bus lanes and moving traffic contraventions for several years. Using automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) technology, the new system has been designed to operate automatically in an unattended capacity during the morning and afternoon school runs, and features Siemens ITS’s LaneWatch cameras.

The new LaneWatch enforcement solution has been designed as a single camera system to detect nearly all traffic contraventions that are enforceable using CCTV. This includes bus lanes, banned turns, no-entry, parking outside schools and on red routes, and yellow box junctions.

Cameras are mounted on to existing street lighting columns that had been pre-fitted with mains power sockets. Each camera is configured to monitor vehicular access to the restricted areas for specified hours and minutes as part of a seven-day configurable schedule of enforcement. Using any number of permitted vehicle lists, each with the capacity to maintain tens of thousands of registrations, the system can accurately identify potential contraventions in real time.

Video evidence is gathered from the cameras both before and after it is activated, with the unit recording contextual overview and a still image of the vehicle’s license plate. The overview video allows the system operators to establish if there are any extenuating circumstances for the contravention before processing the footage.

Recorded video evidence is security encrypted and then delivered from the camera using its in-built 3G/4G cellular transmitter. Data is processed and stored on the Siemens Hosted Core Server ready for operators to review and where necessary turn the evidence in to a penalty charge notice (PCN) via the back office processing system interface.

“The trial period was a success, with initial high contravention rates subsiding as drivers’ behavior changed. I am really encouraged by the impact the scheme has had, with evidence that fewer children are being driven to school as a result of the pilot,” noted Stuart King, cabinet member for environment, transport and regeneration at Croydon Council.

“At one school almost two thirds of pupils are now walking, cycling or scooting to school, compared with barely half this time last year. I am delighted all three schools have confirmed the environment immediately outside the school gate has improved and become safer following the introduction of the scheme.”

Noel Frost, head of enforcement for Siemens, commented, “LaneWatch cameras identify all vehicles that access the newly created pedestrian zones during restricted periods when parents are dropping off and collecting their children. They monitor the vehicles at each entry and exit point at specific times, and also have the ability to remotely access complex operating schedules and dynamic Authorized Vehicle Lists to make sure they are capturing correct information.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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