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Santa Barbara Officials Say Traffic Cameras at City Intersections Are Not ‘Big Brother’

Cameras that detect motion have been installed at many of the busier intersections only to help with traffic flow

The traffic cameras hovering above Santa Barbara intersections may conjure up fears of Big Brother surveillance, but the city’s traffic engineers say the cameras are only to help with traffic flow.

Cameras have been installed at many of the city’s busier intersections during the past several years, according to traffic engineer Derrick Bailey. He said many intersections have timed lights, but busier intersections have the traffic cameras installed to detect motion and maximize the green time at the light.

“You get a lot of people thinking Big Brother is watching, but it’s nothing like that,” Bailey said. “We can’t even play the video back.”

Bailey says the city doesn’t record anything, so people who call the city asking for video after they’ve been in accident are disappointed.

“The resolution is really low, and we can’t even tell the make and model of the vehicles,” he said.

Only with the camera at the intersection of State and Mission streets can the city see video, and only then it is a live stream and unable to be played back.

The cameras are mounted on the mast arms of the traffic signals on Chapala Street and Upper State and are slated for other intersections.

One will go in at Anacapa and Carrillo streets as the city rebuilds that intersection. Bailey said T-bone collisions have long been an issue there, and the cameras will be put in along with a mast arm for the traffic signals as well as pedestrian counter screens for the crosswalks there.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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