Is Big Brother Watching?

Nah. Just a new-fangled way to study traffic, on light poles along the Post Road and Main Street. A computer analyzes data from videotape.

A camera on a Main Street traffic pole, near Vineyard Vines. (Photo/Peter Hannan)

A camera on a Main Street traffic pole, near Vineyard Vines. (Photo/Peter Hannan)

Hold your fire. It’s not the NSA.

Yet.

6 responses to “Is Big Brother Watching?

  1. Thanks as usual for shedding light where there is darkness. Question – who is paying for these “devices” and what are they going to do with the information?

  2. Cathy Walsh Chair Westport P&Z Commission

    These cameras are the for the town wide baseline traffic study currently being conducted. There are 31 cameras located throughout the town, along Rt 1 from Norwalk to Fairfield and at multiple intersections downtown and between Bridge/S. Compo. The cameras will be in place until next Wed. This study which is being conducted by RBA, was sanctioned by P&Z, BOF and of course the First Selectman. In conjunction with the cameras there is a survey being done of all the parking lots and street side parking in the downtown /west bank areas. The P&Z Commission along with the P&Z staff, worked with Downtown 2020, Police and Fire Departments, the town engineers and SWRPA to determine the scope of the project. SWRPA is conducting another traffic and parking study which is focusing on the RR Station and Saugatuck. RBA is doing both studies. Within a few months we will have a complete picture of how traffic flows and how parking is utilized in town. Only after we have the raw data as to how everything is working (or not), is when we can take steps to improve the quality of life for all of us.

    Cathy Walsh
    Chair P&Z Commission

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Peter, you are paying for them and the information gathered will be used to subjugate you.

  4. Dewey Loselle

    Peter – I am on the RTM and have been working with the Downtown 2020 Committee for the last year so I think I can shed a little light on your good questions which may also be informative for other citizens.

    The traffic study is being conducted as Phase I of the overall Downtown Master Plan project proposed by the First Selectman and guided by the Downtown 2020 Committee. The Phase I is being funded by the Town for $65,000 which was reviewed and approved by both the Board of Finance and the RTM.

    The cameras are going to capture car traffic data as well as pedestrian and bicycle data from 15-20 major intersections in Downtown and other key locations in Town. The resulting data will be used to create for the first time in Westport’s history a comprehensive “baseline traffic model” for our Town. This is something our Town Planning dept has long needed and we are handicapped in our decision making without it.

    The resulting traffic data and new modeling capability will have several uses. It will be used by the Planning and Zoning Commission to objectively evaluate any developer’s proposals when they are projecting how their new development will effect (or not effect) traffic on our local roads. Developers will have to work with and against the Town’s traffic study in the future. They will not be able to just use their own traffic study which may have some built in bias to say whatever is being developed “will have no impact” which is often the finding of their traffic studies.

    Secondly, the traffic study will help with Phase II of the overall Downtown Master Plan project in helping to evaluate what can be done to improve traffic flows in Westport, how can we make Downtown safer and more pedestrian friendly, what might be done to improve parking and what will be the traffic impact of some of the major projects planned for Westport’s Downtown area.

    Hope this is helpful

  5. To both Cathy and Dewey thank for the thoughtful responses. It is great to hear we are collecting real data and plan to make future decisions based on facts. What a step ahead.

  6. Did DHS assist in purchase of the cameras, as they did in other cities? Notably Seattle, which just removed them.