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Private company profiting off of taxpayer-funded DOT cameras

December 22, 2016 04:03 PM

ROCHESTER—Many drivers in our area rely on traffic cameras to get a look at the roads before heading out or heading home from work but you probably didn’t realize, a middle man is making money selling access to the cameras that you, the taxpayers own.


Tax dollars pay for the cameras, the maintenance of them and the electricity to power them but a third party company is getting a sweetheart deal to handle those who want to show the public the images.

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News10NBC shows you images from the DOT cameras every day during the morning and evening commute. There’s no question they are a huge asset to drivers.


"I think that they need to have those cameras because it is helpful when you're driving because our weather changes here like crazy,” says Theresa Reyes of Rochester.


Dkuann Moorer agrees, “They are very helpful because you never know, especially with Rochester weather, anything can change and it's a very good tool, resource to use -- just so that you're one step up on everything. You know exactly what you need to do based on what the weather conditions are."


New York State, Monroe County and dozens of other municipalities across the country have signed contracts with a private company called TrafficLand. TrafficLand charges private companies, like the television stations in Rochester, to show you images from the cameras.


Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s office tells News10NBC its contract with TrafficLand does not include the exchange of any money. TrafficLand confirms they pay the county nothing.  The county is responsible for maintenance of the cameras and equipment which costs about $10,000 annually. TrafficLand is responsible to provide servers, on-going maintenance, on-call troubleshooting and hosting of video feeds for the public.

 TrafficLand says it costs $12,000 to provide these services.

TrafficLand’s reach stretches far beyond New York. In a 2011 Washington Post article, the company’s founder Larry Nelson boasted TrafficLand controlled access to more than 10,000 cameras in the United States. Today, TrafficLand tells News10NBC that number tops 20,000.  In 2011, Nelson said he charged his 500 customers anywhere from $250-$20,000 per month each to grant access to publicly-owned cameras. In Rochester, WHEC-TV was paying $30,000 per year and none of that money was passed onto the county government.  Nelson says his company does have agreements with other transportation departments to share revenue.  He could not explain, nor could Monroe County, why local leaders never asked for a revenue sharing agreement.


Nelson defends the relationship further, stating “(Monroe County DOT) choose to work with TrafficLand because we provide multiple, valuable services that save them money, exponentially increase the utility and accessibility of their traffic camera network video, and help the DOTs and community stakeholders (like public safety agencies) increase situational awareness to support more effective and timely incident response.”

A spokesman for Monroe County says it is currently reviewing the contract is has with TrafficLand to determine the best path moving forward. News10NBC will not continue to pay TrafficLand to broadcast images from the DOT Cameras.

If you’d still like to see them, you’ll have to go directly to the Monroe County Department of Transportation’s website.

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2017 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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