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Road Services - Frequently-asked questions about the My Commute traffic cameras

About the My Commute traffic cameras

Web-based cameras are a traffic management tool that provide real-time traffic information to traffic operators, the media, and the traveling public. Cameras are designed to increase the safety and efficiency of roadways and to inform drivers of adverse conditions such as accidents or congestion. Motorists can visit the My Commute website or the all King County traffic cameras webpage and view real-time video images of traffic conditions in unincorporated King County.

Pre-trip Internet traveler information assists travelers in making mode choices, travel time estimates, and route decisions prior to trip departure. The Traffic Control Center staff monitor the real-time traffic conditions and can intervene quickly to deal with emerging problems. They adjust traffic signal timings, dispatch enforcement personnel and advise motorists. Upon detection of an incident or other disruption to the flow of traffic, the operators in the Traffic Control Center can notify the appropriate authorities to clear the incident. The cameras are a public safety tool and are not intended to identify speeders or enforce traffic laws.

Web-based traffic cameras are a part of the discipline Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and a component of that discipline's subsystem Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS).

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) collect, store, process and distribute information to people for the movement of people and goods. Examples include traveler information, traffic management, emergency management, public transportation management and many others. Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) is the deployment of advanced traffic sensors and surveillance systems along with real time traffic management and control to increase the movement of traffic along arterials.

I was in an accident near one of your cameras. Do you have a video tape of the accident?
We do not regularly record our camera feeds for archiving. No tapes will be kept. We only occasionally record video images for traffic studies and exceptional circumstances.
Which direction is the camera pointed?
The camera is set in the home position. This is the position used most frequently by the staff in the traffic control center. We have a typical morning scheme and afternoon scheme which automatically sends all cameras to pre-set directions. Generally speaking, these automatic settings keep the cameras pointed so that the heaviest traffic flow is oncoming or heading toward the camera. When there is no incident to monitor, the cameras are usually zoomed out and pointing in peak flow traffic direction. The cameras can be rotated 360 degrees as well as zoomed, panned and tilted.
How do the camera images get from the field to my monitor?
The cameras are connected by a Category 5 cable to the remote server located out in the field. The remote server transmits the images from the camera to an image server by means of an ISDN or DSL phone line using standard Internet Protocol. The image server then transmits the images to the Web server. The end user is then able to view the images by logging on to the website.
What hardware/software do I need to view the traffic camera images?
You need an Internet-ready device and you need a Web browser. No other hardware/software is required because all the necessary software tools are downloaded to your browser or viewing device.
How often are the camera images updated?
Camera images should update automatically. Variable refresh rates depend on end-user's connection speed and connection out in the field. If your browser does not support the refresh function, you can manually update the image by selecting one of the refresh rate buttons below the image.
Are the cameras able to read vehicle license plates and monitor traffic speeds?
The cameras are not able to read vehicle license plates and do not have sensors to detect traffic speeds. Cameras are strictly for traffic management use only, not for law enforcement.
What are the benefits of the video cameras?
Some of the benefits of the video cameras include:
  • Congestion management/operations optimization — Real-time monitoring of congestion at intersections and along corridors.
    • Technicians can manually modify timing plans to relieve congestion resulting from isolated events.
    • Engineers can modify timing plans to meet traffic demand.
  • Reduction in travel time delay.
  • Operation/safety — Real-time monitoring, vehicle and non-motorized conflict monitoring.
  • Transit corridor monitoring.
  • Traveler information:
    • Citizens can see traffic conditions before setting out on trips to work, to home, to shopping, etc.
    • Website access also available to media for reporting traffic conditions.
  • Incident management:
    • Report incidents to police, fire and rescue.
    • Report incidents to traffic reports and traffic reporting services.