Industry Articles

VDOT Makes Real-Time Traffic Camera Images Available To First Responders

RICHMOND, VA, October 15, 2003--The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is making its traffic camera images available to first responders so they can have access to real-time images when responding to emergencies.

"First responders want to see what our eyes are seeing through the 75 traffic cameras located along major interstates in Northern Virginia," said Kevin Barron, VDOT's program manager for intelligent transportation systems (ITS). "The streaming video system allows police, fire and rescue personnel to see what we see in our Smart Traffic Center in Arlington."

With the new Video Distribution System (VDS), first responders will be able to access real-time information released on a secure network within their facilities.

While VDOT has traffic cameras available for viewing over the agency's Web site,, these images are slightly behind real-time, in which the on-line picture refreshes at a rate of 1.5 frames per second. The streaming video images now available to first responders refresh at 20 to 30 frames per second, providing a real-time image of roadway conditions and emergencies in Northern Virginia.

TrafficLand, Inc., the private company that hosts the video images from VDOT's Northern Virginia traffic cameras, installed high-speed encoders in the 75 cameras. They are distributing the video imagery to subscribing regional and transit agencies, as well as to local, state and federal public safety, emergency management and homeland security agencies. VDOT entered into a contract with TrafficLand early this year, in which VDOT pays the company to implement and operate the system for three years.

Public agencies and private entities such as taxi companies, Federal Express and UPS, can sign up for a subscription to VDS, much like signing up for cable television services. Public agencies including local police, fire and rescue personnel can sign up and pay for the service for use in their daily operations, but all first responders would get immediate free access in the event of an emergency.

"The hope is that within two to four years we can generate enough revenue from commercial use to defray the cost or provide the service free to public agencies on a daily basis," Barron said.

VDOT's Northern Virginia traffic cameras are located on I-66, I-95, and I-395. Within the next year to 18 months, images from VDOT's traffic cameras in Hampton Roads and the Richmond area will be outfitted with the high-speed encoders and will also be made available to first responders.

TrafficLand currently makes 75 VDOT cameras available for viewing by the public on their Web site

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