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Old 07-03-2005, 06:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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white radar boxes on hwy 280 in SF bay area

I took a drive today, that included the portion of 280 between 85 and 92. Every few miles, my V1 would pick up k-band radar, yet I could never identify the source. Finally, we figured it out. On many of the overhead signs, there are white boxes installed. Each box is roughly 12-14" square, and around 6" high, laying flat with a cable leading to the sign (for power, I assume). Oddly, they appeared metal but I'm not sure where the antenna would be if that were the case - no external antenna or other accessories was apparent so where else was the radar signal coming from? These boxes were on both the northbound AND southbound sides. Some signs had two boxes, though in that case, the V1 would still only register ONE radar signal. We looked hard for any auxiliary cameras, but while we saw a few, we believe the ones we saw are normal traffic cams (small solar panel nearby, and relatively far from the white boxes).

Does anyone know what these are? That road is notorious for speeding, but I couldn't see how these boxes were addressing that. It's not a very high traffic road; the only useful application I saw for these boxes was detection of accidents by monitoring traffic speeds. Is this the first stage of a full-highway photo radar deployment?

Any ideas? Hmm, if I get a dozen speeding tickets in the mail next week we'll have our answer...
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Old 07-03-2005, 08:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Maybe that's just what they are for....to set off radar detectors. Back when I had a radar detector I found that the state (IL) would have something similar set up at road construction sites.
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Old 07-03-2005, 08:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Here in southwest Connecticut on I-95 we have the same sort of thing, but the boxes are mounted on poles, use X-band, and usually have a camera nearby. They are used to monitor the average speed of traffic, since a dramatic drop in the speed of traffic usually indicates an emergency (accident or whatever), and if the traffic speed falls below a preset threshold, it sets off an alarm at the State Police Department.

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Old 07-03-2005, 10:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MattG
I took a drive today, that included the portion of 280 between 85 and 92. Every few miles, my V1 would pick up k-band radar, yet I could never identify the source. Finally, we figured it out. On many of the overhead signs, there are white boxes installed.
Matt,

They could be radar units that are being deployed by a company called SpeedInfo (www.speedinfo.com). These are being deployed to collect real-time flow (speed info), not for traffic enforcement and have GSM connectivity to a server. The traffic flow info is then shared with the DOT and sold to traffic info providers.

Hwy 101 and most of 80 and 880 have loop sensors that the DOT uses, but 280 & 580 do not and these sensor can collect the flow data with little infrastructure (don't need to cut into the highway surface, etc.).

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Old 07-03-2005, 10:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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ya gotta love the traffic flow on 280!

If you're doing 80 you better be in the slow lane!
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Old 07-04-2005, 08:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I gotta believe (okay, I want to believe that it's for traffic flow information gathering, sort of like this .

I love checking this before I head home from work (I use the Sacramento area map), so I know where the slowdowns are...

Hope you find it useful,
SP
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Old 07-04-2005, 10:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RacyTracy
Back when I had a radar detector I found that the state (IL) would have something similar set up at road construction sites.
Actually, those radars at construction zones are sending out signals on the radar frequencies telling you what's up ahead - construction zone, accident, school zone, ambulance, etc. Not all radars implement this technology, so the warning transmitters also set off radar detectors as a caution...
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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California installs Radar Drones

http://www.radarbusters.com/news/cur...dar-drones.asp

July 6, 2005

In an attempt to slow down drivers along Interstate 280 in California, the California Highway Department has installed 14 solar powered K band radar drones mounted on top of light poles.
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apkom
http://www.radarbusters.com/news/cur...dar-drones.asp

July 6, 2005

In an attempt to slow down drivers along Interstate 280 in California, the California Highway Department has installed 14 solar powered K band radar drones mounted on top of light poles.
Too funny!!! Those are speed collection sensors from SpeedInfo (www.speedinfo.com). The sensors use K-band to collect speed & flow data and then it's sent via GSM (cell phone) to a server and reported to the CDOT (511 service) and sold to traffic reporters (Clearchannel, MetroOne, OnStar, etc).

Photo #1 is from Radarbusters
Photo #2 is from SpeedInfo

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Old 07-08-2005, 06:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khamai
Too funny!!! Those are speed collection sensors from SpeedInfo (www.speedinfo.com). The sensors use K-band to collect speed & flow data and then it's sent via GSM (cell phone) to a server and reported to the CDOT (511 service) and sold to traffic reporters (Clearchannel, MetroOne, OnStar, etc).

Photo #1 is from Radarbusters
Photo #2 is from SpeedInfo

Kiyoshi
Quick thought: 280 is pretty non-congested relative to other Bay Area roads, so would traffic reporters really want info on congestion? I'm confused. Also, we should remmeber that the CHP had a serious (and very publically announced) ticket-writing campaign on 280 within the last year.

I've received two tickets on 280 in the last four years. On every trip to San Jose and back, I see at least one person stopped. It really is a numbers game on this road. It's a when, not an if situation.
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Old 07-08-2005, 07:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Kiyoshi, those are not the devices we saw. What we saw were definitely box-shaped, and mounted along the bottom edge of the signs, centered left to right.
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Old 07-08-2005, 07:36 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Err, wait a sec...maybe you're right after all! I may have been too intent on spotting those white boxes and missed the other units higher up. Hmm, are those white ones just lights then? lol. Some signs didn't have them, I think that's why we thought those were it.
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Old 07-08-2005, 07:56 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiftlock
Here in southwest Connecticut on I-95 we have the same sort of thing, but the boxes are mounted on poles, use X-band, and usually have a camera nearby. They are used to monitor the average speed of traffic, since a dramatic drop in the speed of traffic usually indicates an emergency (accident or whatever), and if the traffic speed falls below a preset threshold, it sets off an alarm at the State Police Department.
That's why my V1 was driving crazy! I thought that some trucks had some sort of radar jammer. I just got fed up and turned off the x band on my V1.
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Old 07-08-2005, 09:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JonOrangeElise
Quick thought: 280 is pretty non-congested relative to other Bay Area roads, so would traffic reporters really want info on congestion? I'm confused. Also, we should remmeber that the CHP had a serious (and very publically announced) ticket-writing campaign on 280 within the last year.
Over the past few years Flow Info has become the "holy grail" for Traffic Engineers. No longer is "Incident" traffic info adequate, because the "Hot" ticket in traffic engineering is "Prediction". It's about being able to predict time of travel in advance and while enroute. To do that you need to know about flow rates (historic & real-time).

One of potential side benefits is to be able to do real-time re-routing based upon instaneous flow rates. A Nav system would be able to calculate the estimated travel time of various routes to a destination and pick the fastest based upon distance and real-time flow rates.

The big carrot for the development of these systems is not you & I the consumer (listening to traffic reporters on the radio), but the commercial fleets, where saving travel time are real $$$$.

We will see more of these sensors popping up. There are other systems in development for capturing flow info including "Floating Point". Floating point systems will mean getting speed info directly from the vehicles. Currently in development are in-vehicle GPS based systems with either cellular or 802.11 connectivity or cell phone based systems that monitor the time it takes for someone with a cell phone on the highway to travel between 2 or more points (cell towers or cell sectors).

As for law enforcement... Well, none of these systems are being developed specifically for law enforcement, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the CHP could monitor the Flow reports and see where traffic is routinely over the speed limit and send out patrols to "visits" those sections of road.

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Old 07-08-2005, 10:23 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by khamai
Over the past few years Flow Info has become the "holy grail" for Traffic Engineers. No longer is "Incident" traffic info adequate, because the "Hot" ticket in traffic engineering is "Prediction". It's about being able to predict time of travel in advance and while enroute. To do that you need to know about flow rates (historic & real-time).
As a total aside, my first job out of collage was software development for the Bay Area Traffic Management System. We started with sensors and cameras on the Bay Bridge, flow control onto the bridge (the metering lights), incident response (tow trucks) and motorist information (Changeable Message Signs, a.k.a. CMS). The project was extended to centralized monitoring, control of ramp metering, surveillance cameras, CMS and corridor control throughout the Bay Area. If you get stuck at a Ramp Meter in San Jose it is my fault.
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Old 07-08-2005, 10:32 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Kiyoshi,

On the Autobahn in Germany the computers scan license plates and match them up later with another scan. So, for the parts of the Autobahn that have speed regulations (near and in cities) if a car shows up too soon a ticket is generated and sent out. Imagine we will get the big brother problem here too.

have fun

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Old 07-08-2005, 10:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It's a good thing CHP uses Ka band...
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Old 07-08-2005, 11:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Kiyoshi,

On the Autobahn in Germany the computers scan license plates and match them up later with another scan. So, for the parts of the Autobahn that have speed regulations (near and in cities) if a car shows up too soon a ticket is generated and sent out. Imagine we will get the big brother problem here too.

have fun

Nick
Nick,

Similarly here in the states some authorities tried to ticket speeders based upon the time taken to travel between toll booths on the tollways (RF ID tags aka Fast Track). The good news is that such methods were thrown out by the courts.

Kiyoshi
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:35 AM   #19 (permalink)
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These new K band sources on 280 are freaking out the ferrari drivers as well...
http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=65272
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Placement looks very evenly spaced out...
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