IT IS a fact most Zimbabweans lack civil sense when it comes to road usage. On the roads motorists go by their self-concocted guidelines. Many make their own lanes or try to squeeze through congestion due to the sudden increase in the number of motor vehicles plying the roads.
Taking care of ever-increasing and complex traffic situations is a challenge for many of Zimbabwe’s major cities, especially Harare. Zimbabwe’s rising car ownership and urban sprawl continue to put pressure on the roads, leading to some worrying trends. The Harare city centre should now be considered the world’s most dangerous city and how our Harare drivers are meandering in the streets.
With heavy fines as high as US$263 by the Harare Municipal police, Harare’s latest attempt to crack down on the general lawlessness on its potholed, traffic-choked roads has shown some initial results.
However, there is a need to make lasting solutions, which included the good old days of ticketing by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) traffic officers, who used to carry the popular Z69, which was on the spot fine book or the “form 265” which required you to pay your fine within seven days of being issued with a traffic ticket for a traffic offence. Above that we should, however, thank the smart and intelligent video solutions that are being used the world over, which Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies and citizens can also use to address these driving-associated stressors head on.
Today’s advancement in technology can provide Artificial intelligence (AI) powered smart video cameras that can enforce speed limits, safer driving at intersections, emergency response, alleviating traffic congestion and record bad drivers and traffic offenders.
Smart video cameras can be set up at roadsides to record the speed of vehicles and keep speeding under control. These cameras ensure that drivers keep within permitted speed limits, making traffic safer and reducing the possibility of road accidents.
Using radar technology, smart video cameras can calculate the average speed between two points along the road or at the location of a camera.
The speed data is associated with each detected licence, and sent to traffic units who can respond immediately. In other cases, the licence plate number of a speed-violating vehicle is registered, and several weeks later the licence plate holder will receive a fine by mail or by SMS on their cellular phone.
Intersections are often scenes of collision owing to driver negligence and recklessness, which is why it is an important location to be considered for smart video solutions.
Modern technology makes it possible to monitor driving behaviour in real time. This includes drivers driving through red traffic lights, making a U-turn in the middle of an intersection, travelling the wrong way, or using the shoulder to bypass traffic.
With modern technology there has to be a technological connection between law enforcement agencies, emergency response service providers and paramedics.
The sooner emergency responders arrive at the scene of an accident, the lower the risk of fatalities. Smart videos have an automatic incident detection delivery system, which allows for rapid response to emergencies, whether motorists require the police, fire service, or paramedics.
By analysing live video streams, information about accidents and traffic violations can be obtained in real time and flagged via an instant alert to the city’s traffic control centre so that help can be dispatched.
There are now 1,5 million vehicles that traverse the streets of Harare’s central business district on a daily basis, according to information made available by the Central Vehicle Registry, Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo has said in 2021.
The road network for Harare was built for only a maximum of 200 000 vehicles and the city is now prone to constant traffic congestion and unnecessary jams.
With smart video analytics provided, these can help identify roads and locations where congestion is most likely to occur. This helps city authorities determine if the area would benefit from traffic management schemes.
Vehicles are counted and classified in real time and the data is compiled into heat maps and dashboards so that cities can take practical steps toward traffic relief.
As long as there are bad drivers, car accidents, traffic congestion, and risky driving behaviours, there is room to improve road conditions. Smart video cameras, combined with intelligent analytics, can allow the government, law enforcement agencies and citizens to make rapid advancements toward a safer and better driving experience for motorists. By introducing the smart video cameras on Zimbabwe’s road and re-introducing the “form 265” issued by both the municipal police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police sanity on Zimbabwe’s road could be restored.
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- Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers.