Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Dan J
I've been meaning to bring this one up with the forum for ages but keep getting sidetracked...

About 4 years ago I noticed something strange appear on a road I frequented (fast dual carriageway), it was like a blue lamppost but on the top had something that looked like a blue plastic shoebox with the end cut off and some kind of sensor inside it, the end of the "box" facing the oncoming traffic. I initially thought it might have been checking speeds but hadn't heard anything on the 'grapevine' and I slowly forgot about it and ignored it. Over the last couple of years, however, these things have started springing up absolutely everywhere and usually always look like I described above though I have seen ones on shorter poles and some on narrow roads have a box facing each way. I have seen them just off roundabout exits, on the side of busy main roads, even in some country lanes (and this in London, Surrey, Cheshire, Manchester, Devon etc). To add to the mystery, motorways have long had some kind of sensor that is attached to nearly every single bridge you drive under (honestly, have a look at the front of the bridge as you approach it!), presumably to monitor traffic flow. These now seem to be being replaced by these said blue things which are attached right by them on the front of m'way bridges and face the oncoming traffic.

These things are in many places where they could be checking speeds and also many where they wouldn't be (ie. roundabout junctions) - I find this very disturbing and want to know what the hell they are. I've scoured the net for information but have found none and nothing is mentioned on Speed Trap UK about them. Can they read number plates? Does this mean someone somewhere knows where every single car is once it has passed one of these things? Will it be timing people over distance to send out automated speeding tickets? Given the random location of many of these it all seems a little big brother - Whatever they are there for something tells me it isn't so the government can improve our "driving experience" on the roads.

Can anyone out there shed any light on these strange blue things?!
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Myfyr Madoc-Jones
Something to do with Trafficmaster traffic information systems, perhaps?
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - John Slaughter
Yes, it's Trafficmaster, and yes it does use numberplate recognition.

Regards

John
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Tomo
I am scared, a bit: if two adjacent happen to pick up some of us, they might conclude there must be two with the same number, and start some sort of trouble!
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - markymarkn
yeah, I read they were for the trafficmaster gizmo.

Apparently they only have ultra low resolution cameras in them that can only sense that traffic is present. 'Speed' cameras are expensive and so would cost far too much to see them on pretty much ever busy road in the uk.

When was the last time you saw a gatso the size of a shoebox anyway?

But... thats only what i've read. Maybe thats what they want us to think...
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Dan J
As it happens there are speed detectors the size of a shoe box! They just look like cctv cameras but have an infra-red transmitter on the side. You can read about them at www.speed-trap.co.uk and you can also see them if you drive through the 40mph roadwords at B'Ham on the M6!
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Robert
They are indeed Trafficmaster units. They perform two functions:

1) They collect information about traffic flow
2) They transmit traffic info to passing vehicles appropriate to the route ahead.

The collection is quite clever. They read a numberplate & pass that to Trafficmaster HQ. When the next Trafficmaster gets the same numberplate a little later, from another sensor, it computes the speed of the traffic between the two points. Collecting thousands of samples allows a database to be built up. The M25 for example has a unit over each lane on most of the bridges.

It has the potential to be big brother, but Trafficmaster have to discard the information once the calculation is complete (or after a certain time if you end up on roads without sensors).

The information can be accessed via an in car receiver (either built in or optional), via a cellphone interface (i.e. dial 1200 from Cellnet & follow instructions), or via numerous web interfaces (such as buypower.vauxhall.co.uk/trafficnet/index.jhtml). These all use the live data.

Don't take my word for it take a look at their website:

www.trafficmaster.co.uk

Regards ........... Robert
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Tom Shaw
I believe Trafficmaster only picks up the middle four digits of the number plate, so could not be used in evidence to prosecute a driver. For now, anyway..............
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Alwyn
>The collection is quite clever. They read a numberplate & pass that to Trafficmaster HQ. When the next Trafficmaster gets the same numberplate a little later, from another sensor, it computes the speed of the traffic between the two points. Collecting thousands of samples allows a database to be built up. The M25 for example has a unit over each lane on most of the bridges.<

Isn't this exactly the same system that SPECS uses?

Why do they need to read our number plates? Traffic flow speeds could be checked with inductive loops. Mmmmmmmmm. Look out.
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - John Kenyon
Alwyn wrote:
>
> >The collection is quite clever. They read a numberplate &
> pass that to Trafficmaster HQ. When the next Trafficmaster
> gets the same numberplate a little later, from another
> sensor, it computes the speed of the traffic between the two
> points. Collecting thousands of samples allows a database to
> be built up. The M25 for example has a unit over each lane on
> most of the bridges.<
>
> Isn't this exactly the same system that SPECS uses?

No SPECs will identify and store the whole number plate.
Trafficmaster will only store sufficient data to allow a representative
sample of cars to be measured.

SPECS has to be 100% accurate.
Trafficmaster doesn't need to be 100% accurate.

>
> Why do they need to read our number plates? Traffic flow
> speeds could be checked with inductive loops. Mmmmmmmmm.

Inductive loops only measure instantaneous speed. (as did the
original trafficmaster sensors which were only installed on motorway
and dual carriageway overbridges.

/john
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Andy P
The only way you can accurately measure traffic flow is to use the same car, measured over a set distance. Just measuring the number of cars passing a certain point won't give you that information, because it won't tell you how fast they're moving.


Andy
Re: Big Brother Gov't - Are you scared? - Dan J
Ah well thanks for the info on 'em though I'm not sure we'll be able to rest easy indefinitely!
 

Value my car