How Camera Technology Is Evolving to Support Law Enforcement

Cameras are widely used by law enforcement officers as a reliable way to combat speed violators and capture evidence of law breaking. Major cities around the world and cross-continent highways all over the globe have installed speed cameras to make roads safer, turning them into one of the most valuable tools for traffic enforcement. According to the Worldwide Speed Camera Database, there are currently 7,700-speed cameras being used in the United States, and well over 100,000 globally.

Speed Camera History

The Dutch race car driver Maurice Gatsonides is credited with developing the first speed camera in the 1950’s. He developed the camera to help him measure his cornering speed, but when law enforcement started taking an interest, he formed a company and began producing the cameras. The company introduced its first speed camera in 1964, and by 1971, radar technology had been incorporated into the design. 

Speed enforcement camera technology has evolved tremendously since those humble beginnings.There are many different types of speed enforcement cameras in use today. The following is an overview of some of the most widely used speed cameras.

Camera Technology

Law enforcement camera systems were traditionally RADAR products, but in the last decade we have also now seen scanning LIDAR. The RADAR products have also become more sophisticated with the 3D/4D now in the market, providing offender identification over multiple lanes.

Sensor Type & Operating Principle LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) speed measuring systems consist of an Infra-Red (IR) Laser transmitter, optical lenses to focus the light beam and a sensitive IR receiver. IR light pulses are timed from when transmitted, reflected by the target and received back by the instrument again. In scanning Laser models, the IR laser beam is also swept during the distance measurements to give angle information as well. RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) systems consist of a Microwave transmitter, antenna, mixer, and a sensitive receiver. Moving targets in the antenna beam results in a difference between the transmitted and received frequencies/phases, which is called DOPPLER. Various modulation or carrier frequency/phase shifting techniques can be used to obtain the distance to the target and/or give additional azimuth/elevation information.
Speed Detection Method The ‘Time of Flight’ of the Laser light pulse is proportional to the distance to the target as the speed of light is constant. Vehicle speed is calculated from the change in distance per unit of time. RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) systems consist of a Microwave transmitter, antenna, mixer, and a sensitive receiver. Moving targets in the antenna beam result in a difference between the transmitted and received frequencies/phases, which is called DOPPLER. Various modulation or carrier frequency/phase shifting techniques can be used to obtain the distance to target and/or give additional azimuth/elevation information.

Types of Camera Use

Red-Light and Speed Cameras

Both red-light and roadside fixed speed cameras are considered a form of automated enforcement. 

Automated enforcement speed cameras are used to supplement conventional law enforcement efforts, especially in areas where patrol stops are unsafe or impractical. These cameras measure the speed of the vehicle passing usually via a Doppler RADAR and then, if speeding, they photograph the offender. In the early days of wet film, they would collect the film and then process the offenses. Since the digital era, however, they automatically send the evidence via 4G/Broadband and process the evidence with a Back Office software and issue tickets to offending vehicles.  

Red-light cameras are positioned at intersections to capture violators of traffic signal stops. These cameras also photograph violators, but in some cases, also have video to further enhance the evidence. Modern-day red-light cameras are now typically capable of measuring speed, and in some circumstances, other offenses can be captured by them like banned U-turns or bus lane enforcement.

ANPR and ALPR Cameras

Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) or Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology has become more advanced and widely integrated with speed enforcement cameras. ANPR / ALPR systems use a plate finder and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to automatically read and record license plate information, allowing for checks against a Police Database or in the case of “Section Control” (aka Average Speed Systems) they use the plate to identify the vehicle at each location. It also uses a Back Office to identify keeper details of the offending vehicle so they can then send out a letter of prosecution. 

Mobile, Portable, and Body Worn Cameras

To enhance flexibility and enforcement effectiveness, there has been increasing use of portable and mobile speed cameras. These cameras can be deployed by authorities to various locations. Mobile and portable speed cameras also facilitate quick response to changing traffic conditions. Body worn cameras represent the ultimate option for flexibility and mobility.

Law Enforcement Cameras & Related Technology

Handheld LIDAR Devices

LIDAR offers advantages over traditional RADAR systems, such as better target identification and narrower detection angles, reducing the number of false readings.

The LaserCam 4 from Kustom Signals offers a greater target range, faster acquisition time, image quality of plates at longer distances, and a comprehensive video record of speed enforcement and tracking history. Features include:

  • Photo/Video LIDAR for comprehensive tracking history
  • AutoTrak™: Automatic camera zoom with target tracking eliminates operator error
  • Secure chain of evidence and AES 256 encryption
  • Photo & Video recording modes with Audio
  • Up to three posted limits with thresholds to enforce different vehicle classes
  • Wired or Wi-Fi file transfer
AI-Powered Police Body Worn Cameras

Argus Police Body Worn Cameras from Kustom Signals were developed with AI for law enforcement and designed with innovative technology that makes it easy to use during even the most tense and threatening situations. Argus BWCs integrate AI-powered features like voice activation, which recognizes common phrases to automatically trigger recording mode and capture footage. This means that officers will not miss critical footage because they are unable to manually activate their body worn camera. The trigger automatically allows the camera to activate for live streaming in the event of threats such as falling or gunfire. 

Digital Integration and Data Analysis

Speed enforcement cameras are also becoming increasingly integrated into centralized communication systems. This allows for real-time monitoring, data analysis, and automated enforcement processes. Integration with other systems, such as traffic lights or road sensors, allows for enhanced traffic management and enforcement capabilities. Data analysis and machine learning technologies can help authorities identify patterns, analyze speeding behaviors, and optimize enforcement strategies based on data-driven insights.

Contact us today to learn more about Kustom Signals and our comprehensive line of law enforcement, speed enforcement, and video solutions.

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