Artificial Intelligence cameras are being installed in the United Kingdom to combat the ongoing littering problem on the region’s highways. The UK government is rolling out the cameras in a trial run in the South East of England which will be programmed to identify and fine drivers who litter on the highway.
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Law enforcement officials currently have to comb through hours of footage to identify anyone who is in violation of the nation’s littering laws, but the new AI cameras will reportedly streamline the process. Unlike CCTV cameras, these new AI devices will automatically send the identified littering offenses to the enforcement control room where personnel can review the images and issue a fine of up to £100 ($126) using the car’s license plate.
The trial comes three months after the Clean Up Britain campaign group threatened to take legal action against the National Highways body if it didn’t reduce the amount of trash on the roadways. “We should all be truly ashamed of how disgusting and litter-strewn our country has become,” John Reade, the campaign’s founder, said in a blog post.
He accused the National Highway body of having a “shameful and scandalous track record of inaction and dereliction of duty,” and added, “They are failing on an astonishing and soul-destroying scale to clean up the tsunami of litter which is festering all over their roads, in every part of the country. They are guilty of professional negligence, contractual amateurism, and wasting public money.”
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Now in an apparent effort to tackle the growing litter problem, the National Highway partnered with East Hampshire County Council Commercial Services to manage the cameras and issue fines. The highway body does not have the authoritative power to take enforcement action.
Richard Holden, the roads minister, confirmed last month that nearly 40% of National Highways roads had received a B grade for litter, meaning there were significant levels of litter found.
“Litter on the side of roads is an eyesore, impacts the local environment, and can even pose a risk to the safety of road users,” Gill Furniss MP, the Labour Party Shadow Roads Minister said in the blog. She continued, “National Highways has a legal duty to keep the roads they manage free from litter, and I urge them and the Department of Transport to ensure that this requirement is adhered to.”