5/22/2007UK Plans to Double Speed Camera Ticketing
Move to digital cameras could push UK speed camera revenue beyond half-a-billion US dollars.
UK officials are planning to double the number of speed camera tickets issued to 4 million annually by upgrading the devices currently in use. About 4000 of Britain's 6000 ticketing machines use an obsolete, wet-film technology that requires a human to travel to each camera site and manually reload the film magazine once the device has issued about £12,000 (US $24,000) worth of tickets. Newer filmless, digital devices can snap photos around the clock without the need to wait for a reload, as images are stored on a harddrive with the capacity to store thousands of tickets at a time. Nearly eliminating camera downtime is expected to drive annual revenue beyond £240 million (US $475 million).
Dutch speed camera maker Gatsometer, BV is offering a £10,000 (US $20,000) digital camera replacement unit that drops directly into camera housings, replacing older film units with no further modifications required. Home Office approval of the upgrade unit is pending.
Safe Speed founder Paul Smith questioned whether under new financing guidelines local authorities would be able to afford the £40 million (US $80 million) upgrade to digital.
"Funding for speed cameras now is far more limited than it was, and it's hard to see how digital Gatsos might be paid for," Smith said. "I urge police and local authorities not to waste important road safety funding on this final phase of the speed camera story."
The new camera unit also includes built-in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) capability. The device constantly scans multiple lanes of traffic and identifies the owners of all passing vehicles using a driver's license database. The device then records a log of when and where each individual has passed the device. Devices equipped with a broadband connection can transmit driver identity details and ticket photographs to a central location automatically.