Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remote sensing

Remote sensing is the process of obtaining information from instruments that are not in direct contact with the object of investigation. A common example is the use of cameras to obtain information about  phenomenon at a location distant from the observer.

This particular form of remote sensing has been a frequent topic on my blog (see, Candid Camera in the label cloud). A good example arose Monday at the City Council's weekly pre-council meeting with department directors. One of our council members, Jonathan Cook, inquired of our Public Works and Utilities Director, Miki Esposito, about a movable message board sign he had seen near the intersection of 14th and Highway 2 earlier in the day. The message had something to do with the pending closure of S. 14th Street.

I was sitting next to Director Esposito when the question was asked, and we were both caught off guard. The Public Works Department is a big, complex operation, and there simply is no single person who knows about every single project, activity, and operation underway at any given time. I had driven right through that area on my morning commute, and had not noticed a message board at all.

Using my laptop, though, I accessed the traffic camera at 14th and Highway 2, zoomed in on the message board a couple blocks further south, and the three of us eventually read the message--a little tricky due to the dirty camera housing, the wind blowing its mast, and the mid-afternoon glare straight in the iris. Nonetheless, we confirmed the message, and from the tire tracks in the snow, the fact that the message board had been placed quite recently.

Looks like S. 14th Street will be closed for work on the railroad crossing south of Highway 2 after the morning rush on December 16. I, for one, intend to find an alternate route (assuming I remember--my remote memory sensor has been a little inconsistent lately)!


Steve said...

Do you have access to a different traffic cam than is available to the public on the city's web site? The one I saw appeared to be on the northeast corner pointed west, and there was no sign of the sign. I'm wondering how you were able to look south. Do the camera angles change during the day?

Tom Casady said...


Same camera, but a small number of City employees have PZT control. Can't provide that to everyone. What the public view gives you is a small snapshot updated every 15 seconds for the first 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

You're big brother!