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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Transportation Management Centers: Streaming Video Sharing and Distribution - Final Report

Executive Summary

State and local departments of transportation (DOT) continue to invest heavily in the installation of traffic cameras and distribution of live traffic camera video feeds. State and local DOTs, law enforcement, and transit providers across the country have deployed almost half a million cameras to support transportation and public safety. The video streams from these deployments have the potential to be used for situational awareness, assisting in the response to incidents and events, security and infrastructure monitoring applications, data collection, machine vision, device control, traveler information, and more.

The purpose of this document is to synthesize current practices and recommendations for transportation management agencies to share live, streaming traffic camera videos with the public, news media, other agencies, and trusted partners. This document aims to assist transportation management center (TMC) staff in planning, implementing, or improving their approach to sharing video feeds.

Some agencies have many and varied reasons to share their video feeds, while others chose not to share their images. Some reasons for not sharing closed-circuit television (CCTV) images include cost concerns and competing priorities. Older cameras, networks and lack of available bandwidth are additional issues that hamper efforts to share images. However, many agencies are resolving these issues and recognize the return on investment they are getting from openly sharing streaming video with both public sector partners and the private sector. The most common benefits of sharing include improved relationships and improved incident management efforts and responses. However, almost all agencies also noted additional benefits, including increasing public good will and trust, meeting public expectations that the desired information is there for general consumption, demonstrating that tax dollars are being used appropriately, and proving to the public that the government is operating openly and transparently.

While a few agencies are trying to recover costs associated with streaming higher quality video to the media and private sector, most agencies are streaming their video feeds at no cost to third parties.

While some agencies have leveraged open-source video sharing software solutions or have built in-house solutions, many agencies are realizing the benefits of outsourcing their video with sharing to third parties or purchasing video streaming appliances that significantly reduce the agency's dependence on in-house, on-call technical staff. This results in the agency's ability to produce enterprise-level, robust solutions that do not inadvertently disrupt the agency's network or core business of traffic management.

Many agencies are also realizing that they can reduce video streaming costs by simply upgrading their aging CCTV cameras to newer IP-based solutions that support multiple streaming profiles.

This document does not discuss older technologies—including static image sharing or motion jpeg technologies. Instead, it focus on true CCTV streaming.

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