Abu Dhabi Police fends off speed camera vandals

Abu Dhabi Police and an Italian security systems company have together developed security boxes for speed cameras.

The cameras cost Dh150,000 to install and the same amount each year to maintain.
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ABU DHABI // Traffic police are pulling down the shutters on people who vandalise speed cameras.

Security boxes for radars will be introduced in Abu Dhabi after they were developed for police by the car-accident company Saaed and an Italian security company.

“This speed radar is installed to protect people’s lives,” said Ibrahim Ramel, chief executive of Saaed, at the Gulf Traffic Exhibition and Conference.

“Anybody who jeopardises that jeopardises people’s lives.”

The simple metal case fits over the cameras. If damaged, it sends an immediate signal to a control centre and activates sirens.

The case gives 360-degree video streamed to a control centre and even to mobile phones, ensuring that if the camera is vandalised the footage will be intact.

They also have emergency buttons connecting users to police.

Vandalism of traffic cameras is common across the Arabian Gulf.

Most are destroyed by fire or gunshot.

The cameras cost Dh150,000 to install and the same amount each year to maintain.

Incidents in Abu Dhabi City are rare, but more prevalent in remote areas and the Northern Emirates. At least five were destroyed in Ras Al Khaimah in one year.

The new security covers can be integrated with other systems to give information on traffic flow, and even work in areas without electricity.

It operates with minimum mobile bandwidth, using 3G, 2G or GPRS.

“This system is not just for radar, it’s for any remote reading,” said Ali Omar, a technology development manager for Saaed.

Dr Atef Al Garib, a road-safety specialist with Abu Dhabi Police, said: “In isolated areas, sometimes you can expect [vandalism]. It’s not a major issue but if we are frank, this happens.”

Radar vandalism is widespread in Saudi Arabia. Companies have tried to protect cameras there by installing bulletproof glass across the front, “which is quite a challenge when you’re talking about lasers not taking this into account”, said Andrew Pearce, a programme director at the country’s Dh5.5 billion Intelligent Transport System project.

Saaed will also soon open a Sharjah office, creating 100 jobs Mr Ramel told the conference.

Emiratis are being encouraged to apply so Saaed can meet its Emiratisation target of 27 per cent by 2014, up from 20 per cent.