Candid camera: Eyes in the sky can help reduce city’s crime rate, says traffic cop

One hundred cameras have been installed along GT Road, University Road, Cantt to manage traffic.

Riaz Ahmad April 18, 2014
One hundred cameras have been installed along GT Road, University Road, Cantt to manage traffic. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Recently installed traffic cameras are slowly helping solve more than gridlocks and speeding; they are proving to be a deterrent for a far bloodier problem faced by Peshawar – target killings.

Such incidents have declined after the cameras were placed, claimed a traffic police official, an apparent enthusiast about the decision to put more eyes in the sky.

At least 100 traffic management cameras have been installed at 40 locations across the city over the last six months.

Say cheese

Of these, 60 are pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras with coverage up to 500 metres. Although PTZs can help with facial recognition, the police are more enthused about other specs like the camera’s ability to detect number plates and night vision.

The official told The Express Tribune these cameras can rotate 360 degrees, giving a much-needed line of sight not limited to traffic junctions.

The remaining cameras have a fixed focal length and have been installed alongside the PTZs. Depending on the flow of traffic and the size of the chowk, one PTZ has been placed next to either one or two fixed cameras.

In case of power outages – routine for Peshawar – the equipment is supported by a UPS (one per two cameras). Each UPS provides an eight-hour backup for the equipment which relays data in real time to control centres.

Toys or tech?

“These multi-purpose cameras are essential for traffic management and law enforcement in any modern city in the world,” was how the cop justified this latest addition to the city.

To make better use of their dual purpose, two control rooms have been established, he shared.

“One control room has been established at the traffic headquarters where a sub-inspector and six constables are deployed for each shift.”

Another control room is at the East Cantt police station, manned by the district police. The aim of the second control room is to provide the district police with multiple views of the city to help them improve law enforcement.

“The staff at the East Cantt control room has been trained by the company which installed these cameras,” added the traffic cop.

Big brother sees it all

Though it is still too soon to find significant data to back the correlation between a decline in crime and the cameras, there have been a few incidents proving the tech can indeed help.

Recently, footage from the cameras of a kidnapping incident helped the police nab the culprits, shared the official.

“Did you know there has been a halt in target killings on GT Road after the installation of these machines?” questioned the cop. “The cameras cover GT Road, Cantt, and University Road till Hayatabad.”

At the moment, GT Road has at least 12 cameras installed. The traffic official added in the next phase the police want the entire city to be under the watchful eye of traffic cameras.

As far as traffic management is concerned, it is far easier to know the cause of a traffic jam before dispatching a police officer to help clear the route. The cameras provide a clear picture and officials can remotely control the cameras to change angles and focal lengths.

The PTZ and fixed cameras are not the only tech solution to Peshawar’s many problems.

“Two SIM-based systems have been provided to the traffic control room for vehicle checking. Recently we were able to nab two stolen vehicles with the help of these cameras,” maintained the official.

The traffic police have also requested software for “vehicle counting” which will help them in traffic management.

“Imagine if we could know exactly how many vehicles are on the roads of Peshawar. It will automatically enable us to make certain calculations which will allow us to control traffic. Other measures could also be taken to ensure the smooth flow of traffic,” maintained the cop.

Around 25 cameras are currently on ice till PTCL can provide a connection which is how the data is relayed to command centres.  After the completion of this pilot project, traffic police are eying the second phase to be implemented where the entire city is under the watchful gaze of traffic cameras.

“The most important thing in the entire system is the video storage capability – videos from these cameras can be stored for six months – another element which will help police in reducing crime.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2014.


yousafhaque | 7 years ago | Reply I am quite sure that Peshawar police can do it and they will
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