By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE
… your company name and phone number.
Traffic Data Inc, our data collection company, was working on a traffic data collection study, when I got a call from a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer about one of our camera systems. They were following up on a call from a concerned citizen who spotted camera attached to a light post. Obviously the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing, and other terrorist attacks around the world, has raised everyone’s awareness of their surroundings.
We’re working for the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota using our video systems to collect data at about 250 intersections. The City of Minneapolis’ traffic division forwarded our whole work plan to each police precinct (maps with each intersection and the schedule), but this still didn’t get to the beat cop.
He was able to call us from the street and confirm our box was legitimate (our office number rolls to my cell). Without our company contact info on the box, this could have turned into a bomb scare. Not good.
More recently, we received a call from a police department in another state where one of our video systems was being used in a study near a federal reserve building. Our customers was using an older model of our video equipment which was positioned on the ground near a post. The presence of the equipment on the ground raised suspicions from pedestrians and resulted in a call to the police department. Fortunately, the equipment had our company label and website on it, but the unit was missing the local company’s contact information. Fortunately, we were able to contact our customer and they were able work out the details with the local authorities before they removed his equipment.
Get a sticker with your company and phone number on every piece of equipment you deploy. It’s a simple, low-cost way to protect your product investment.
Do you have a story about how your data collection equipment caused concerns with the local authorities or citizens in the community? I would like to hear from others who have experienced these challenges, and what you have done to help ease concerns in the areas where you do your traffic counts.
I agree whole heartedly. We had a similar incident not to long back with a set of sidefire radar units. The call came in from the Police Department asking what they were. Funny thing was we were doing the speed study at the police department’s request.
I began my career in traffic data 7 years ago & my supervisor thought it was frivolous to do this but non the less gave me the ok to identify each one of our counters, I work closely with local PD and they have complimented me on how they can easily identify our counters when a citizen calls in with a concern.