Generally, traffic cameras are hardened with an exterior shell that makes it extremely difficult to vandalize the camera inside.
In a move sure to make George Orwell look like Nostradamus, officials in Prince George's County, Maryland, announced last week that they would be using video cameras to monitor....you guessed it, other video cameras!
In this case, the cameras will be monitoring the continued vandalism of the county's "speed cameras" -- those designed for traffic enforcement.
According to an article by Ari Ashe of Maryland's WTOP FM, residents are definitely getting sick of receving traffic tickets in the mail. Since April, the article says, six people have damaged speed cameras -- and the methods of vandalism are as interesting as the idea of "cameras watching cameras."
Ashe's article reports that someone pulled a gun out and shot a camera. Two weeks later, a speed camera was flipped over -- police believe several people were involved because of the weight of the camera itself. Then in May, someone walked up to a camera, cut off one of the four legs, and left. Finally, when a camera was literally burned down, Police Maj. Robert Liberati thought it was time to act.
"It costs us $30,000 to $100,000 to replace a camera," he said. "That's a significant loss in the program. Plus it also takes a camera off the street that operates and slows people down. So there's a loss of safety for the community."
Speed cameras themselves can't be used for security because under Maryland law speed cameras can only take pictures of speeding, Liberati said.
My question is, why not get proactive, Prince George's County? In the long run, it will certainly cost less to simply "harden" a camera system against vandalism. There are all sorts of enclosures, coatings and other measures our industry can offer to protect cameras. This way, instead of having a broken camera and a picture of who did it, you just have a functioning, undamaged camera.
Just a thought.