Sanibel adds sites, cameras to live stream
The city of Sanibel recently completed upgrades to its live-stream “Street-Cam” system, bringing the number of viewable locations on-island to five and the total number of cameras to 12.
Bert Smith, director of Sanibel’s Information Technology Department, explained that the system expansion was initiated at the beginning of the summer. Street-Cam, accessible via the Internet or a smartphone app, is designed to provide viewers with real-time traffic conditions at intersections.
“We’re trying to find ways to use technology to manage life on the island and traffic is a big part of that,” he said. “One of the things we’ve found is that traffic really gets busy exiting the island.”
Smith noted that depending on the time of year and time of day, specifically during season in the afternoon at about 3 p.m., traffic in some areas can come to a complete standstill with delays.
“So if people can adjustment their departure or arrival time by as little as 20 minutes, they can save a lot of time waiting in traffic,” he said.
“We’ve had some people say they look at the cameras to actually plan their day, not just a short commute,” Smith added.
With the upgrades, four cameras were installed at the intersection of Periwinkle Way and Lindgren Boulevard, with one facing oncoming traffic in each direction – north, east, south and west. Two more cameras were added at the intersection of Lindgren and East Gulf Drive – pointing north and west.
“All of this work was done as a recommendation from a traffic study committee,” he said.
Smith explained that the committee examined various areas and their needs.
“Those locations were the highest priority locations identified by the committee,” he said.
The recommendation was presented before the Sanibel City Council and approved.
To go along with the expansion, the web interface also required a redesign.
“To change the navigation a little bit to have more cameras,” Smith said, adding that the city staff worked with a web development company in order to incorporate the additional cameras.
When the city debuted Street-Cam in March 2016, the first sites were on the Causeway Span C with one camera and at Periwinkle Way and Casa Ybel Road with two cameras – facing east and west.
In June 2016, the city implemented its first upgrade.
“We added three cameras at Periwinkle and Tarpon (Bay Road),” he said, adding that those cameras point toward the north, east and south.
In the fews years of having it, the city has found other uses for the system. For example, officials stationed at an off-island emergency operation center during a recent hurricane utilized them.
“We were able to watch the weather develop as the day progressed,” Smith said. “So we were able to use that as a tool during the storm.”
He noted that residents and visitors are not the only ones tapping into the system.
“We can see that people are using the cameras from around the world,” Smith said, citing a few counties in Europe. “Also, people who come from the north like to look at the cameras.”
As for future upgrades or additional locations, there is presently no plan.
“That’s a decision that has not been made,” he said.
To access the live cameras, visit www.mysanibel.com/Live-Street-Cams.
People can also download the free “Sanibel Bound” app from the Android or Apple store.
“We like to get citizen feedback on what they think, in addition to what we’re planning,” Smith said.
To provide the city with feedback, visit www.mysanibel.com. On the blue bar along the top, click the “Contact the City” link, which will take visitors to an online form that they can fill out and submit.