If you live in the Duncan/Cowichan Lake area, you may have noticed one of the three DriveBC HighwayCams on Highway 18 has been unavailable recently. Don’t worry – it’s not down for good. It’s actually being moved to a nearby location.
DriveBC HighwayCams don’t always stay put. The current Highway 18 webcam relocation got us thinking it would be helpful to you if we explained some of the reasons why we might move a webcam. If we shift a webcam’s gaze, it’s likely due to at least one of the following five factors.
1. “Can you see me now?” Finding better service
Mainroad South Island Contracting owns and maintains the Highway 18 webcam, which had been running on solar power and a weak cellular signal since it was installed nine years ago, causing reliability issues. Since there is a second HighwayCam further down the highway, at Skutz Falls, Mainroad decided the webcam would be more useful if positioned at the South Shore Road/Pacific Marine Road intersection, which connects Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew as part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route.
Reliability will be enhanced because the new location has phone lines and a direct power source, allowing the webcam to connect directly rather than relying on a weak cellular signal and solar power. The new location also has… (Wait for it…)
2. Good lighting!
A webcam will go dark at night unless it has sufficient lighting. Some webcams rely on streetlights, and some webcams are equipped with an infrared illuminator, which provides light long enough for the webcam to snap a good shot without distracting drivers.
But not all webcams have either of these light sources. In these cases, you can get an idea of traffic levels by the number of headlights, but actual road conditions remain a dark mystery. Two street lights at the new Cowichan Lake location will provide ample light for the webcam, which had been going dark at night at its old location.
3. Damage control
Webcams are sometimes involved in vehicle incidents or damaged in some other way. A webcam’s power may be cut, the supporting pole for the camera may be broken, or any number of things could happen to reduce its performance. To prevent a webcam from being damaged repeatedly, we may move it to a safer location.
4. Environmental hazards
When appropriate, we choose to install webcams facing north to avoid glare from the sun, but there are other environmental hazards that may warrant a move. For example, if a webcam lens is affected by spray or debris from heavy traffic, we might move it to another spot.
In an effort to protect your privacy, we present webcam views at low resolution. However, if we receive a complaint from a resident concerned about, say, their home being visible in a webcam view, we will consider changing the webcam’s direction or location.
The DriveBC HighwayCams network includes nearly 400 views at about 290 locations (and counting!) across the province. We want B.C. travellers to know what to expect – from traffic levels to weather/road conditions – before committing to a route. We’re always looking for ways to improve this service, and sometimes that means finding a webcam a new home.
Hopefully this blog post answers your questions. Please feel free to comment below if a query moves you.