Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baltimore Begins Massive Camera Rollout

The City of Baltimore has begun deployment of the first the city's new speed cameras. Already 51 proposed camera sites have been selected. In addition, the state has begun to deploy workzone cameras to interstate highways I-95 and I-695. We have updated our map of speed camera locations to include current and planned locations in and around Baltimore.

These cameras are nominally limited to school zones and highway work zones. However nearly any street within a 1/2 mile radius of a school can be designated a school zone. By that definition, approximately 80 percent of the city qualifies. Any other road can be designated a 'workzone', regardless of whether any workers are present any actual construction work taking place.

To install the cameras as quickly as possible, Baltimore contracted with ACS State and Local solutions, who runs Montgomery County's speed cameras as well as Baltimore's existing red light cameras. The city's existing red light cameras will apparently be refitted to house the more lucrative speed cameras. The contract pays a percentage cut of every ticket to the contractor, much like the one which Montgomery County is currently being sued over. Baltimore wrote $7million of revenue from the cameras into their FY10 budget back in April of this year, before the required local legislation authorizing the cameras was passed in August, and before the required public hearings were held.

Baltimore has one of the most extensive red light camera programs in the country. In 2003 a city judge discovered that many of Baltimore's red light cameras were installed at intersections with below standard yellow light durations. With that experience, they should have good luck with their speed camera program.

Citizens who want to express their views may wish to contact the Baltimore City Council or perhaps Mayor Dixon (Good luck with those perjury charges Mayor. Perhaps that will give her a better understanding of why the words 'innocent until proven guilty' are important.)

Regardless, with 51 speed camera locations and dozens of existing red light cameras, and a surrounding ring of freeway cameras, Baltimore appears to be well on its way to having one of the most extensive mass surveillance systems in the country.