Other Opinion: Better road network on way in Minnesota
Interested in road conditions in Minnesota? Then enjoy this good news: Minnesota soon will become the latest state to broadcast live highway traffic camera footage, which will be available to anyone with an internet connection.
According to a report published last week in the Herald, the cameras likely will begin streaming in a month or two. It will be an improvement over the current system that only publishes single photos from the cameras.
It’s not to say Minnesota doesn’t already have cameras lining its roadways. At present, there are more than 1,170 cameras in the Minnesota Department of Transportation network, monitoring highways throughout the state but mostly the Twin Cities area and the interstates. Garrett Schreiner, an engineer with MnDOT, said the cameras are used mostly to check in on traffic flow or road conditions.
But, as a Forum News Service report noted, the way the network is set up, MnDOT offices can only access live footage from nearby cameras. The new system will change that.
The $283,000 project – plus $11,000 per year in technical upkeep – will put Minnesota among 21 states that have live, real-time traffic broadcasts. Unfortunately, North Dakota isn’t among them.
Good for Minnesota to move into the future with this plan, which comes with a cost but which also will improve residents’ ability to see real-time conditions – related to both traffic and weather – on the state’s network of highways.
Anybody who takes a trip during the winter in these northern climes knows a concern always exists about roads. And while some may complain when the footage from these cameras is used in court cases, we see the cameras as a giant step forward for driver safety.
Driving from Grand Forks to the Twin Cities in the winter? Pull up the footage and see for yourself how the roads look. Couple it with Minnesota’s 511 hotline and it’s a good all-around system to help with driver safety. The cameras also can help emergency response, since they can show the severity of accidents or stranded motorists.
Meanwhile, we believe the use of footage in court cases will be useful, too. According to reports, the cameras are not able to read license plates or identify people; they also will not be used to enforce the law.
While cameras that detect basic traffic infractions are rightfully controversial, cameras still can help solve larger crimes. The new system in Minnesota could help solve hit-and-run incidents, determine fault in accidents and map out timelines and suspect whereabouts in more serious cases.
The more cameras the better.
And for those worried about a camera infringing upon their privacy or adding weight to a court case against them, here’s some advice: Don’t do anything wrong on the people’s highways.
The good of highway camera systems absolutely outweighs the bad. North Dakota should follow Minnesota’s example.