Without bothering some inept bureaucrat in the town, I wanted to find out more about out rapidly proliferating red light cameras, especially their capabilities or lack thereof.

With my new camera in tow, I was able to snap this picture (click to enlarge, warning... 4.5 MB) and extract the camera type and manufacturer.

Their justification for the cameras will be that it will save lives. Of course, if you press them, they will not have any such evidence.

The real justification is that it is a money grab. Is there an Return On Investment period, or is it a money sink?

It turns out that red light cameras are still illegal in Massachusetts . Our legislature, probably in error, has discovered that they are a money grab. As such, these cameras are used merely for surveillance.

If officer Val Krishtal is photographed by a camera, will that photo ever be released? Of course, not. They are still covering up his accident that destroyed a cruiser.

Questions I compiled:

  1. How many intersections in Framingham now have red light cameras installed?

  2. Do we have a list of these intersections?

  3. Which town department is funding all these cameras?

  4. How much are we paying per camera?

  5. What is the return on investment (ROI) on these cameras (if there is one)?

  6. How is the ROI even computed?

  7. Do the cameras currently support facial recognition or will do so in the future? Iteris claims it has machine vision modules which seems to imply that facial recognition might be one such module.

  8. Do the cameras support license plate recognition or will do so in the future? Iteris claims it has machine vision modules which seems to imply that license plate recognition might be one such module.

  9. Are these cameras active? The reason I ask is because the number of citations has dropped off dramatically recently .

  10. How many citations have been issued using them in the last year?

  11. Where do they all feed into?

  12. Do these cameras collect video or just still pictures?

  13. If video, how many days of data does the system collect before it recycles? Video data is very space intensive.

  14. What is the name of the system that collects all the camera feeds?
According to the 2012 annual report, under the Technology Department, there are 72 cameras but many of these are mere surveillance cameras in the schools. This town may have some 150 cameras all in all.

It's not clear to anyone whether anything is being improved, or is it just a big monetary sinkhole?

Send comments to: hjw2001@gmail.com