…but someone is clearly planning something.
Whilst out and about toward the end of the week before last (around the 4th July) I noticed some odd cameras had appeared, attached to lamp-posts around the town. The first one I spotted was on Wednesday 1st or Thursday 2nd July; it consisted of a metal case chained to the base of the post, with a small camera mounted higher up, facing the roadway. It was positioned on a street lighting column opposite the Pier Street footbridge. I’m used to seeing the pressure tube data collection units around, but I’d not seen anything like this system before. I scratched my chin, and forgot about it.
On the following Friday, I was taking a mooch down the High Street to engage with the Brownhills Retail experience – OK, post a parcel – when, upon passing McWarreners, I noticed two more camera devices looking at the traffic from posts on either side of the road. I made a mental note to photograph them for posterity that weekend, and try and find out what they were all about. This I duly did on Saturday last.
Oddly, the smaller example in silver street (the one on the green post, outside Farm Foods) had been moved from opposite the footbridge. There was a further example at the other end of Silver Street, just past the bend up by Focus. I couldn’t photograph it at the time, so I planned to return the next day to take a quick shot. My plan was foiled, however, as when I returned on Sunday 5th July, all the cameras had been removed, and not a trace remained.
From the label on an equipment box chained to the base of a lamp-post, it can be seen that It’s an ‘Environmental testing unit’ operated by a company called Vincent Knight. A little swift Googling led me to their website, here. From this, it identifies the company as a ‘transport research organisation’ who provide transport and traffic analysis for third parties. They apparently use a variety of automated methods, one of which one must presume these cameras to be. I’d be intrigued to know how they work – there’s some heavy technology here, and the night vision fittings around the camera lenses are interesting.
These are quite clearly a high-tech and legitimate method of gathering data – I have no objection to that whatsoever. From their positions within the town (and there were probably more I didn’t find) they seem to be gathering information about the amount of traffic travelling comparatively through Silver Street and the High Street – but why?
As I see it, either the council – who I’d expect to have their own capability for such surveys – have employed this company in relation to their future traffic planning, about which there’s been a speculative article in the press within the last 12 months, or other planners, possibly involved with the stalled Tesco development have started analysing traffic for some reason. If the latter is the case, one can only speculate as to why such data is required; maybe there’s some conflict with the authority relating to traffic volumes for the new development. Who knows?
I can’t locate the article about Brownhills road changes in the press I read earlier in the year. In it, there was some discussion about the options for re-routing and improving traffic flow through the town; Doug Birch was discussing options put before the local committee. Quite what qualifications the committee possesses to make such significant decisions I don’t know, but the story died as quickly as it appeared, and sank without trace.
Somebody, somewhere, is gathering information. It’ll be interesting to see what shakes out.