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UK Road Sense, Dorset Way / A3049 50 limit


Dear Mr Clayton,

 

Many thanks for your detailed response, it is not often that responses are raised by authorities when criticised about apparently dubious operations.

 

Many frustrations arise from the apparent lack of quick fixes to simple problems which could be made and would bring rapid and significant improvements to road efficiency. This aside, all those who have protested fully understand that there needs to be some long term and broader planning also. If this involves planning major new routes, then clearly, highly reliable and extensive data is critically important. I would be most concerned if long term planning on this scale is based on one-hit, highly disruptive archaic operations like this, where many drivers have said that they have been so frustrated at the situation that they have deliberately provided false information. Surely, no one involved in this operation truly believes that it has created a “true picture of transport movements in this area” – if so, I’m even more worried than I was!

 

Surely, such data should be “continuous”. It should be able to provide flow variations throughout the day (not possible of course if it prevents flow!), and the week, even the year to understand the changes in the holiday season, which must be significant in this area particularly with the port in Poole. It should show what the peak requirements are and when they are and identify pinch points and how these can be relaxed and the results of such work. It should also show any trends over the years and into the future. (Even if the data collected in the operation was good, it is likely to be almost irrelevant in a few years, let alone 20.) It could ultimately be used to dynamically control traffic lights, provide real-time continuous data of traffic flows, and assistance in managing hold ups, and immediate measurable feedback when road changes are made. Of course, it should be entirely transparent, so that what is being measured is not effected by the measuring process, one of the most basic rules for scientific analysis and software modelling.

 

Such a system is of course entirely achievable with ANPR. With the additional benefit that untaxed / uninsured vehicles / clones could be identified almost wherever they go. If a proportion of individual questionnaires need answering, these can of course be sent by post to the registered keeper to fill in at their leisure, not while they are trapped, late and fuming. We already even have boxes all over the place with cameras in them – why not put them to a good use??

 

The technical aspects are straightforward – it’s simple these days to run remote data systems over gprs / 3g etc (or if the costs for this are too high, store the data in non-volatile memory collected by a bloke on a scooter). Number plate recognition is a simple image processing task. I don’t know how much the Spur road operation cost but it should be possible to get the cost of an ANPR system down below £800, if you just installed 40 at key points in the area you’d be getting great data, forever, with no disruption and you’d be reducing crime. The network could easily expand as required.

 

This is the way that transport planners should be thinking these days. I urge you to consider this, traffic in this area is becoming unbearable, and we need the best solution, at least one likely to work. With the data collection phase of your project so completely and obviously off-track, I also worry about your back-end systems (data processing / analysis) and how well (or badly) these might be implemented.

 

I’m even happy to help with any of the technical aspects – I’m an electronics / software / computer vision / artificial intelligence / robotics designer with over 30 years experience – I do know what I’m talking about above. I’ve always worked in small companies where things have to work properly, quickly, or you don’t survive. Extending timescales and budgets, which seems so normal in the public sector has never been an option for me.

 

If you are in any doubt about the perception of the public about this, you should read these articles, and the comments:

 

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/mostpopular.var.2449069.mostviewed.traffic_census_misery.php

 

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/display.var.2449882.0.why_do_we_get_in_a_jam.php

 

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/display.var.2449719.0.drivers_have_to_come_to_their_census.php

 

 

I really do hope you can see that what I’m suggesting really is the way forward. Better to take a couple of steps backwards before going forwards now, than in a few years time