The “eyes” on drivers many becoming back with an initiative presented by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – to bring back the cameras on roads.
The ‘new’ cameras, however, would not only monitor speeding, they will also monitor reckless driving, parking, running a red light and the use of exclusive lanes for buses and bicycles.
The initiative seems real enough, given the MOPT is currently fine tuning the bidding licitation for the project called Centro de Movilidad Segura e Inteligente (Safe and Intelligent Mobility Center).
The plan goes beyond the simple speeding traffic cams, rather a system capable of generating data and alerts in real time on road conditions.
Unlike the previous cameras that snapped a shot of the license plate to later fine the owner of the vehicle, the new system would relay to operators information in real time and transmit the situation to patrol units for immediate interventions.
In addition, monitoring can be done from mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets).
“They are a series of technological implements that we will place in the city, fundamentally within the Circunvalación in the first phase. There are 80 control points (not necessarily 80 cameras) and the objective is for the center to guide us in the control of mobility, plate number, bad parking, prevention of accidents and speed control,” said Eduardo Brenes, Deputy Minister of Transport.
The project, valued at just over US$30 million, is theoretically built with the support of Consejo de Transporte Público (CTP), the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (Cosevi), the Departamento de Planificación Sectorial, Ingeniería de Tránsito and the Policía de Tránsito – Public Transportation Council, Road Safety Council , the Sector Planning Department, Traffic Engineering and the Traffic Police.
How does it work? The main control center will be housed at the Cosevi, but with feeds to different agencies, all provided information in real time. An alarm or controller detecting a driving anomaly can immediately call the 911 emergency, Cruz Roja (Red Cross). Bomberos, Police, Traffic Police and other agencies.
The bidding proposal is being readied to be published this year.
There have been several failed attempts at using traffic cameras to primarily control speeding.
The last failed attempt was in 2011 when the Sala Constitucional (Constitutional Court) or Sala IV put the brakes on the project that included the installation of almost a dozen cameras at several strategic points on the Rutas 1, 2 and 39.
The cameras picked off speeding drivers, in total in the few months of operations, more than 15,000 vehicles were picked off by the cameras. But it also meant the end of the program when the then traffic laws did not permit drivers to be fined remotely, that is without being pulled over by a traffic officer and handed the ticket.
More than 12,000 fines went unpaid, the some 3,000 vehicles who did pay were out of pocket once the cameras program was halted by the Sala IV.
An attempt to revive the traffic camera program with a cooperation deal between Racsa, the state internet connection, and the Cosevi, never became reality. In that deal, Racsa would install and monitor the camera operations for a monthly fee and a percentage of the fines.
The plan would have installed some 450 cameras in some 150 locations. But it was too expensive by the Cosevi.