The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Number of cameras overseeing traffic issues to double

Thursday, 9 November 2017, 14:43 Last update: about 3 years ago

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects visited the Traffic Control Centre in Paola, founded by Transport Malta, which started functioning with a complete team of officials on 25 September of this year, with the aim of eventually functioning on a 24/7 basis as of next January.

The minister emphasised how such a centre is an essential tool for authorities to be able to control traffic and take a reliable account of traffic situations in different areas of our country. The centre works together with other tools which help drivers on our roads, as are cameras in main junctions, intelligent traffic light systems and electronic signs. Borg said that there are presently 27 cameras installed, a figure which is expected to double in the future.

A number of officials in the centre observe what is happening on roads while remaining in constant contact with Transport Malta officials stationed on location, as well as with the Police and LESA. Officials then make use of a radio to notify road officials of any problems of congestion or when such problems are anticipated, so as to facilitate intervention.

These officials are the first to send for the Police and tow trucks in the event of an accident, so as to avoid delays when possible. It is at this point as well that officials receive telephone calls with requests for emergency towing service, where they then proceed to guide the trucks to remove vehicles obstructing the road as soon as possible. The average number of requests for the service is ten per day.

The officials also have the facility of altering the messages which appear on electronic boards. These messages guide drivers to take alternative routes, or inform them of accidents or hazards on the road ahead. Officials use and aid the functioning of the “Maltese Road Traffic Updates” app. They look at incoming reports through the app, so they can take action when possible and have a clearer idea of problematic points, they add information to the map, helping drivers plan their routes better, and in some cases, they also send notifications by means of the app.

From this centre, the officials also update a page on the Transport Malta website to give radio presenters updated information which they can transmit to listeners to help them plan their route better or avoid a particular road when possible.

Borg emphasised the fact that Transport Malta has considerably strengthened its enforcement section. In fact, it has also opened a section for motorcycles so that officials can intervene in the most rapid way should the need arise. He announced that in the coming weeks, officials will be wearing body cams and will have dash cams on their vehicles, all with a real-time link to the control centre so that, apart from having access to fixed cameras on the streets, the control centre will also have the facility of mobile cameras. It is worth mentioning that Transport Malta is cooperating fully with the commissioner for data protection, while following guidelines from his office to ensure that the privacy rights of individuals are respected.

The control centre was initiated as part of project Modus I, a project which is co-financed by European Regional Funds. The Ministry however has not stopped here as the Minister stated that preparations for project Modus II are well underway. Through this second project, Transport Malta will be installing several more cameras to give officials a clearer image of what is happening on the roads. The Authority will build a new control centre in its premises in Sa Maison, where permits have already been approved by the Planning Authority and installation of equipment is expected to be carried out next year. This centre will be functioning together with the present centre, which will be used by officials to analyse material recorded from the cameras and take necessary action, and to study traffic flows for better planning and traffic management. The Minister said that in this way, our country will be making full use of the investment put into these two centres.

He reminded those in attendance of the importance of using roads responsibly and with consideration for other users in striving towards more efficiency, and most importantly safety. Borg concluded by explaining how these centres are an important link in a chain of processes which are happening on our roads for the purpose of traffic management, from minor roadworks to larger road infrastructure projects which the Ministry has already implemented and will continue implementing in the coming years.



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