The evolution of notice processing systems for road safety
Most people involved with UK traffic enforcement will have heard of StarTraq; since 2002, we have been working with the Police and camera manufacturers to help improve road safety. Now, over 50% of UK police forces use StarTraq’s software to manage their safety camera enforcement programmes, including our most recent clients in 2020, the London Metropolitan Police and Durham Constabulary, and Wiltshire Police in 2021.
Nationwide, our flagship DOME solution has processed millions of speeding and red-light traffic offences. In addition, the DOME automates many of the manual tasks involved in processing a traffic offence from initial capture through to court proceedings if necessary.
There have been countless ground-breaking innovations in safety camera technology over the years. Still, they would be redundant without an efficient back-office system to process the evidence that they capture.
What it was like before technology?
Safety cameras were first introduced to the UK in the 1990s using 35mm wet film to capture the evidence of a speeding vehicle. One of the significant challenges was collecting, uploading and reviewing the photographic evidence and issuing a notice to the vehicle owner within 14 days. Police staff used to manually review each reel of film, manually record the number plate details (VRM), manually retrieve the vehicle keeper details from the Police National computer (PNC), manually generate the notices and so on. StarTraq automated this process.
Started in 1999, StarTraq pioneered the automated enforcement of camera-generated traffic offences in South Africa. In 2001, StarTraq entered the UK Police market. Our whole ‘raison d’etre’ was to streamline offence processing from ‘cradle to grave’.
In the early days, we introduced technology to scan and read VRMs from 35mm wet film using the film scanners that were more used to producing holiday snaps rather than evidence of speeding.
Police operated camera vans started using VHS to record speeding events; we patented technology to automatically ‘fast-forward and capture’ still images from the footage, which saved countless hours for the staff who used to review the entire video.
We then automated the whole notice lifecycle by creating a sophisticated document management and workflow system that managed the offence process using an automated PNC lookup, document templates, pre-programmed thresholds, timers, rules, and diversions to driver education.
What it’s like now?
About a decade ago, StarTraq decided to rewrite our software using the latest scalable technology. As a result, all of our clients now use our cloud-based back-office enforcement software, DOME.
Evidence and fairness are key to a successful camera enforcement programme, and Police forces are under increasing pressure to process more traffic offences with dwindling staff resources. Essentially our software enables the processing of more offences with fewer staff. This operational efficiency has helped to close the ‘Justice Gap’ where a significant number of offending motorists just simply ‘getting away with it’ because a Police force did not have the notice processing capacity.
In 2013 North Yorkshire Police were processing less than 40,000 traffic offences per annum. In 2014 they introduced our DOME processing system, and now they are processing up to 120,000 violations per annum without significantly increasing their staff headcount.
Some of our other recent innovations include:
Community Speedwatch: is a UK national initiative where active members of local communities join with the support of the Police to monitor the speeds of vehicles using speed detection devices. StarTraq’s software is used to upload speeding data from local communities and automatically issue warning letters to errant motorists.
Dash-cam evidence processing: Operation Snap is currently live in the whole of Wales. This operation allows members of the public to upload video footage of alleged offences to the Police for them to pursue. By uploading a video and completing a proforma statement, the public accepts that they may be called upon to give evidence of the alleged offence should it go to court. StarTraq’s software facilitates the upload and management of dash-cam evidence.
Uninsured vehicles: There is an initiative in the UK called Operation Tutelage, which aims to educate and target uninsured drivers. All Police Forces upload suspected uninsured vehicles to our national system operated by Go Safe Wales. We work with the UK Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) and send them offence data to be checked via a Secure File Transfer (SFTP) and scheduled batch jobs. Files sent and received get logged in the DOME application, which then triggers a process to issue a warning letter to these uninsured drivers.
What it could be like in the future?
StarTraq has always moved with the times, and we are constantly investing in our software to ensure it is up to date with the latest technologies. Our architecture means that our software can be deployed in the cloud. Durham Constabulary are the first Police force to benefit from cloud-deployment efficiencies, North Wales Police are going live soon, and we expect other Police Forces to follow suit in the coming years.
Many of our clients already use our public-facing system (StarPortal) so that motorists can view their evidence online and nominate another driver. The next logical step is for the Police to accept admissions online. StarTraq is ready for this now. StarPortal can already be configured to accept admissions. This will enable motorists to deal with their case much more quickly, and it guarantees that their response is not lost in the mail. In addition, Central Ticket Offices will enjoy considerable time savings because they will not need to open and scan as many paper responses.
We are also noticing the adoption of more safety camera technology in other emerging markets around the world especially in Eastern Europe and Africa. StarTraq’s software can be delivered in multiple languages including Cyrillic, Mandarin and Arabic, as illustrated by our current deployment with the Ministry of Interior in Qatar.
Finally, in the future, we see camera technologies being introduced to enforce distracted driving and mobile phone use, seatbelt wearing, careless driving, Clean Air Zones and Low Emission Zones. StarTraq’s DOME software can be configured to process any offence type without undertaking expensive customised development. When it arrives, StarTraq will be ready to process the evidence from any new enforcement technologies in the market.
StarTraq’s software solutions automate offence processing for police and government authorities to issue millions of notices every year. Our cloud-based back-office enforcement solution, the DOME, can be used by the Police and councils to process any type of offence for which a ticket can be issued, e.g. speeding, red-light running, parking, environmental, yellow box and bus lane offences. In addition, our cloud-based permits and licensing system, which interfaces with Street Manager, enables local government to digitise the application, approval, issuing and enforcement of any permit or licence, e.g. skips, scaffolding and street cafés. Ultimately, the main benefits of choosing StarTraq are quantifiable operational efficiencies driven by automation and versatility.
Richard Talbott: Head of Marketing
StarTraq Ltd: Phone: 01295 273000 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Website: www.startraq.com