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"Here's Looking at you kid..."

Ever wonder what those cameras on top of stop lights are? Baltimore County Now explains.

by Mike Lorenzo
Traffic Signal Shop
Department of Public Works

They’re on most of the County’s traffic lights – little cameras that keep you in their sight while you wait for the light to change. Some people think they’re speed cameras or red-light cameras or maybe more police surveillance hardware. The truth is a little more prosaic and a lot more benign. The cameras send video feed to a computer which counts backed-up cars and decides whether to give a green light to waiting cars. That’s all.

The video goes directly to a control box on the ground where it interfaces with a computer program. The program analyzes the image by changes in light patterns moving across the detection zone (otherwise known as the backed-up-traffic-you’re-sitting-in).

These traffic cameras can’t read your license plate or distinguish a Ford Pinto from a water buffalo. But they can tell how congested the traffic is and then do something about it. The system has no memory; the resolution is low and the cameras are all stuck in a permanently-fixed position – with no sweep or zoom. You don’t have to worry about these eyes. It’s not Big Brother.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill McAllen May 10, 2012 at 07:22 PM
So they say
Paul May 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...
Tim May 11, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I always like to start Friday mornings off with a good laugh. Seriously though, I personally suspect this is mostly accurate. I'm not buying : - "These traffic cameras can’t read your license plate or distinguish a Ford Pinto from a water buffalo." - " The system has no memory; the resolution is low and the cameras are all stuck in a permanently-fixed position" Well, its pretty clear the cameras can't pan left or right, in any event.
George May 12, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Trust me.... The article is very accurate... The guy knows what he's talking about....

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