Sensys Gatso is executing projects all over the world with many customers. Those projects are intended to change driving behaviour in order to increase traffic safety. In this article a project has been selected to give meaning how those projects do indeed contribute to increasing traffic safety and saving lives. The stories are being told by Sensys Gatso’s own employees who have played key roles in the execution of the projects. They have seen firsthand the results those projects have had and know how successful the projects have been.

Michelle Paveo.jpg

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Michelle Pavao
USA

Career
Finance & Operations Manager, Sensys Gatso USA
with Sensys Gatso since  2017 
Merrimack College - B.S. in Business Administration 1989 - 1993
major in Accounting / minor in Economics

THE BASICS
Client:
The City of Pawtucket
State: Rhode Island
Project: School Zone Speed Enforcement Program
Staff: USA 12 and Netherlands 5
Product: TRaaS Program driven from T-Series Pole Mounted Speed Cameras
Quantities:  26
Partners: Sensys Gatso USA direct to the City of Pawtucket

The challenge
The Mayor of Pawtucket was very concerned about the volume of speeding cars near schools in his city. The statistics were showing that children were at a higher risk of being struck by these high speed vehicles and it was time to take serious measures.

In many states across America implementing speed cameras can be a challenge and in some cases, individual states do not have the enabling legislation necessary to start such an automated enforcement program.  However, over the last four years or so there has been a positive change in the perception of speed cameras and as part of that growth a few states have passed legislation for camera enforcement in school zones, specifically.  There is common acceptance of placing speed cameras in school zones, defined as areas around the perimeter of a school that has reduced speed limits during certain hours of the day and keeping children safe is close to everyone’s heart. The Mayor of Pawtucket felt this way too. An important requirement for the system to be approved in Rhode Island was that the enforcement can only be active between the hours of 07:00 to 18:00 and only on days when school is in session. Not every school has the same schedule, so it was important that each camera could be programmed with the appropriate enforcement windows and schedules.

The process
When the city of Pawtucket received state legislated permission to install speed cameras, the stakeholders issued a request for proposal (RFP). After a lengthy submittal and review period we were selected as a finalist.  At that point, we gathered our team for an in-person presentation to the police department, finance department, as well as the Mayor’s office and administrators.  We knew that we had to give them a live demonstration of our user-friendly, intuitive software, which is often a differentiator for us over the competition.  We were able to use another one of our client’s software instances to give them a driving lesson and to show them the robust features available, such as ready-to-go reports useful for all of the parties sitting at the table that day. A live demonstration is very compelling and shows prospective clients that they are in good hands.  After all, that is what a TRaaS program is all about.  In the end, we were selected as the full-service provider for the city of Pawtucket and the project implementation phase started in 2019.

We started the program in September of 2019 with a warning period, before moving into active enforcement in the middle of October. Leading up to the warning period, we talked for weeks and months with all the stakeholders on this project. We had to figure out precisely where to put the speed cameras. Where are the biggest road safety issues?  Which schools need the most focus? Where do we start? And which schools will follow? When we got this right, we needed to look into the actual placement of the cameras. Where are the children coming from? In which directions should the cameras face? Choices needed to be based on statistics and facts. The program set-up work required 6 staff members in the U.S., as well as some software developers in the Netherlands. 

From Pawtucket’s perspective, a very important element of the contract is the level of service and flexibility that is required. When a school has a change in their schedule we need to act immediately. For example, when the teachers have a training day and the school is closed, we have to adjust the cameras near that school. Sometimes things are not planned. There can be a snow alert and the schools close for example. When this happens, we receive a text message the night before and we need to turn off all the cameras before the morning comes. We have an important task to keep the calendar up to date.

We started the program by sending tickets (warnings) that people didn’t have to pay. It was simply a way to alert the residents in and around Pawtucket that the program is real and accurate and that in a couple of weeks it will be turned on with actual citations.  It is important that the public is aware and informed of what is taking place in their city.

The solution
We installed T-series cameras onto city-owned power poles throughout the school zones and connected them to our Xilium back-office TRaaS software. Currently we operate 26 cameras in Pawtucket and work closely with the city program managers to ensure any new cameras are located in zones where data-driven analytics demonstrate the most impact. During the last year we have seen a demonstrable reduction in speed violations which translates into increased pedestrian and vehicular safety at those locations. During the first couple of weeks following the implementation program, the violation numbers were incredibly high. It was hard to believe. Clearly the speeding that was occurring in school zones was a far larger problem than the city could have imagined.  While the numbers are still relatively high in relation to other school zone speed programs under our management, we feel confident that further driver behavior improvements will be seen in the coming months. We have a real partnership with the city and together we are dedicated to making the school zones in Pawtucket safer.