Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Two agencies using AI to monitor roadways in Lowcountry

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - North Charleston residents say they’re cautiously optimistic about AI technology monitoring the roadways.

Both the North Charleston Police Department and the South Carolina Department of Transportation use REKOR AI technology to keep the roadways safer, but the way the agencies use the technology varies.

“I don’t have anything to hide, so it’s OK with me if they use my data, as long as they’re not using it for racial profiling,” North Charleston resident Lawrence Chisolm says.

The North Charleston Police Department uses 31 REKOR AI cameras to monitor crime in the streets of North Charleston, the agency’s Public Information Officer Harve Jacobs says. He says they are used to input plates from stolen and wanted vehicles and for Silver and Amber Alerts.

“If we can use any kind of software technology to make people who are doing the job feel safer, as well as have a better rate of actually catching the people we’re looking for, I think why not?” another North Charleston resident Tyler Knode says.

The North Charleston Police Department is not the only agency that uses REKOR AI technology in South Carolina, the Executive Vice President of REKOR Systems, Mike Dunbar, says.

“There are customers in South Carolina that are leveraging our technology to catch bad guys, you read a license plate, amber alert, stolen vehicle felony warrant, you alert the appropriate authorities,” Dunbar explains.

Each AI camera can have multiple uses, Dunbar says.


Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / Getty Images

SCDOT uses the AI cameras to count traffic and collect vehicle data, a spokesperson for the agency says. That data is used for things like planning, construction and maintenance, hurricane and disaster reporting, and funding from the Federal Highway Administration.

“That same sensor that’s doing that law enforcement mission could also be doing a volume and classification mission for the state,” he says.

As vehicles flow by the AI cameras, they’re being counted and classified into 13 different vehicle types, Dunbar says. Then, that information is collected and passed on to the Federal Highway Administration so SCDOT can apply for funding to maintain the roadways, he says.

“It can benefit the public if they are using it to get more money, spend it more correctly, and provide better services to the community,” Chisolm says.

REKOR Systems Technology has been used in South Carolina since 2019, but the AI cameras and their ability to instantaneously classify vehicles is new, Dunbar says.

There are additional ways to use the technology that is not currently used in South Carolina, Dunbar says, like monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and tracking tourism via license plates.

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