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Cape Town deploys move-sensing traffic tech

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 12 Oct 2022
Thermal sensor technology has been installed at four pedestrian crossings in Blaauwberg, Cape Town.
Thermal sensor technology has been installed at four pedestrian crossings in Blaauwberg, Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town has set up thermal sensors at four pedestrian crossings in Blaauwberg.

Widely used in Europe to improve traffic flow, the thermal sensor-equipped pedestrian crossings don’t require one to push a button.

The technology operates with an all-round detection sensor that uses a thermal image to detect pedestrians and bicycles within the pedestrian zone, according to the city.

Rob Quintas, the city’s mayoral committee member for urban mobility, says the thermal sensors have been installed along Blaauwberg’s Marine Drive and Otto du Plessis Drive, which are the busy routes that carry high volumes of traffic.

“We often see that vehicles are queuing at red traffic signals long after pedestrians have crossed the road,” states Quintas.

“With this innovative system, the thermal sensors at pedestrian crossings are used to detect whether there is any pedestrian movement. Should the pedestrian leave the detection zone before the pedestrian cycle is activated, the pedestrian request will be cancelled altogether. Thus, vehicles will not be stopped unnecessarily.”

Quintas states the tech will hopefully result in fewer red light violations and frustrated drivers.

“The innovative system will also assist with traffic flow and pollution from idling vehicles. A huge bonus is that this system is less prone to vandalism – we often find the pushbuttons at pedestrian crossings are jammed with sticks or broken. A thermal pedestrian crossing does not require push buttons, seeing that it operates automatically.”

Officials will monitor the system and make changes as needed, states the city.

“The system is not affected by low lighting conditions, or even total darkness, as they are using thermal imaging to detect presence. Thus, it provides reliable detection 24/7 and works well in all weather conditions,” Quintas adds.

The city indicates the sensors may be implemented at other locations in future, depending on suitability and funding.