News Feature | February 27, 2017

Third-Party Auditor Helps Verify Red-Light Camera Issued Violations

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Winter Park Police use StarTraq Assurance to detect anomalies and verify violations.

The Winter Park Police Department, located just north of Orlando, FL, has begun using StarTraq Assurance to detect anomalous red-light camera readings to verify citations issued. The adoption of the third party auditing system is in part a response to ongoing controversy over the use of cameras that ticket drivers who run red lights. StarTraq records the date, time, location, red-light time, yellow-light time, lane, and speed involved in each violation before a ticket is issued to a particular driver.

“Data transparency is key to restoring public trust and confidence in automated traffic enforcement programs,” says Richard Talbott of StarTraq. “It is necessary to provide watertight evidence that red-light cameras are being used fairly and without discrimination. To address these concerns it is necessary to accurately audit the data pertaining to a camera captured violation.”

By employing a third party, independent auditing company to provide real-time management information via an interactive dashboard, police and city authorities can help boost trust and the relationship between the department and the public. Good auditing software should send automatic alerts to management and field operators to alert them to improper camera setup. The auditing tool should review all violations to ensure that only valid citations are being sent to offenders.

An International Road Federation white paper about Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in Traffic Enforcement highlighted the need for independent auditing, reinforcing the message an independent private party should be hired to monitor and audit the enforcement program.

The adoption of Assurance by Winter Park also comes just as the Florida Senate voted on a bill to repeal a 2010 law that lets local governments use red-light cameras. The vote resulted in a tie, so for now the measure stands. The controversy comes because opponents question the accuracy of the devices, while proponents say statistics show improved safety as a result. For example, in Orlando accidents fell from 99 to 66 at 10 of its intersections after the institution of a red-light program. Meanwhile, other states also are embroiled in the debate. Iowa banned the cameras, while Ohio saw a case involving the use of the technology reach the Supreme Court. Overall, use of the red-light cameras has declined since 2013.

Former Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey, explains, “The goal here is transparency, both for local jurisdictions and the public. Any technology that can help demonstrate automated traffic enforcement programs are being conducted in a fair and honest manner will without doubt enhance the public trust in such programs. But trust by the public is not an end in itself. The ultimate benefit will be a change in driver behavior and increased traffic safety.”