KC Scout watches over highways with more than 350 traffic cameras

Jim Cunningham
February 05, 2018 - 6:09 am
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Kansas City commuters have come to depend on KC Scout to help them get to destinations more quickly when the way is blocked by accidents or debris on the roadway. 

KC Scout started as a joint venture between the Missouri and Kansas Departments of Transportation in the late 90s. By 2003, construction of the KC Scout system had begun. In 2005, the Traffic Management Center began operating from the morning to evening rush hours, and demand for more services grew.

"In 2006 it was decided we'd go 24/7, 365 days a year," said Mark Sommerhauser, ITS Project Manager.

Only 20 message boards and 60 cameras were monitoring traffic by 2005. Today, there are 70 message boards and more than 350 cameras. Mobile apps are free for Apple and Android platforms.

"We don't record video; we don't do high-definition video, because we don't want to see that level of detail," Sommerhauser said.

Scott Browning has been with KC Scout for almost 12 years as a Traffic System Operator.

"The one thing I love about the job is, there isn't a dull moment, there's always something going on," Browning said.

Sommerhauser says even with all their resources, they can only do so much to keep drivers safe and traffic moving.

"Our biggest frustration is using this technology and seeing things get safer and accidents responding quicker," Sommerhauser said. "But we still see numbers going up in certain areas, and it's that distracted driving."

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