Freedom of Information Requests

“There seems to be a culture of secrecy from the police and government bodies, surrounding the setup, operation and testing of speed measuring equipment. “

Are the motoring public purposely being kept in the dark?

Are police worried that you will find out the rules?

FOI Request 1 – Received 2nd June 2004
Documents Available
FOI Request 1 – Given access to Multanova Manuals

Want to make your own Freedom of Information Request and don’t know how to proceed? Each State has its own FOI Laws. Know your rights! Mading an application is an easy process.

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Well our FOI application has finally been completed after many months of waiting. In short what have we found out?

We found out that it takes persistence to get what your after for one thing. We were initially given incorrect information about the source of the Multanova manual and its availability. This prompted us to call for a review of the decision. Our review was successful and we have been given access to the Multanova manual at our pleasure.

The Multanova Speed Camera system is supplied to WA Police by DCD Systems in Sydney, Tel: 02 9420 2500. They apparently can’t supply user manuals to the public for some reason.

  • All WA Police image recording speed measurement device operations shall be in accordance with The Australian Standards. (Example “Radar Speed Detection”)
  • Standards Australia advised that AS 2898 is available in two parts. AS 2898.1 -2003 Part1, “RADAR SPEED DETECTION – Functional Requirements & Definition Hard copy $37.95, Download from internet, $34.16
  • AS 2898.2 -2003 Part 2, “RADAR SPEED DETECTION – Operational Procedures Hard copy $62.23 ISBN: 0-7337-5461-9 Published 11 Augh 2003 still current No. Pages 11, Download $50.91. Both are available at 165 Adelaide Tce., Perth. Another option is the Alexander State Reference Library at Perth Cultural Centre. They have each available to read and I assume, take copies of relevant pages.
  • We also came across this relvant Australian Standards AS 4691.1-2003 being for Laser – based speed detection devices – Definitions and device requirements. Part 2 Australian Standards AS 4691.2-2003 being for Laser – based speed detection devices – Operational Procedures.
  • If you want to go to court and know what your talking about, this is a great stack of essential information.
  • The Minister of Police appears to have misled parliament in that speed camera signs ARE part of the deployment criteria for speed cameras. She had answered in parliament that speed camera signs are not mandatory.
  • Image Speed Measurement Devices are not to be operated at the base of any steep incline unless otherwise directed or authorised by the Assistant Commissioner, Traffic and Operations Support (or his delegate)
  • Image Speed Measurement Devices are not to be placed within 100 metres of the approach or departure side of a change of speed zone unless otherwise directed by the Assistant Commissioner, Traffic and Operations Support (or his delegate).
  • The speed camera tolerance in Western Australia is set ridiculously low. The Assistant Commissioner of Traffic believes that drivers should only be given 1 km/h tolerance which is the in built error factor in the Multanova speed camera.
  • Speed cameras should not be placed in the vacinity of a traffic sign, metal fence or objects moving in the background such as trains, that can reflect radar signals and give false readings.
  • Speed cameras that use side angle projection of the radar beam (Multanova), must be setup parallel to the traffic flow. Why? Because of the “Coseine Error Factor” which will cause the speed reading to be inaccurate – Either reading too high or too low, depending on how far off parallel the camera is pointing. This is why all speed cameras shouldn’t be setup on curved roads, only straight roads. (An interesting point to clarify – “How is a camera setup parallel to the road? From video footage I have seen of a speed camera setup, its done by “thumb” (rough enough is good enough!). So much for accuracy!
  • Speed cameras must be tested before and after setup. (Only to show if there is a gross error with the device.) All speed cameras must be certified every 12 months as being accurate. ( The question arises -“Is every 12 months good enough after roughly 3 – 4 setups per day in WA for example?” Thats roughly after every 1500 x 2 = 3000 pickup and drops in the back of a car!)

What does all this mean. It means that there are requirements for the correct placement and setup of speed camera devices such as the Multanova and Gatso speed cameras. Rules that must be followed for setup, placement and testing! But are they?

It isn’t in accordance with the Police Deployment Criteria to place a speed camera at the bottom of a steep hill. (Great Eastern Highway springs to mind). Some of our FOI documents could be used in court as mitigating circumstances against wrongly placed speed cameras.

As yet we haven’t taken advantage of the Police Departments kind offer to view the Multanova manual, but will do so soon provided there is some interest shown by readers of this web site.

You can download copies of our documents to see what information was refused and the information that was released by the police departments and their reasoning for the decisions.

Documents Released Under Freedom of Information:

Deployment Criteria page 001 Request for Decision Review Page 1
Speed Camera Tolerance page 002 Request for Decision Review Page 2
FOI Application page 1 FOI Application page 5
FOI Application page 2 FOI Application page 6
FOI Application page 3 FOI Application page 7
FOI Application page 4
Speed Enforcement in Australia – PDF format Volume 1 Practice – Performance – Outcome Measures Volume 2 Appendicies

detection. There sure are! I just love this line from the technical details that we found.

It is not permissible for the operator of the measuring instrument to use the margins of error accordingly to plan for his advantage.”


Technical data on the Multanova 6F – Ka band (Australia):

Transmitter frequency: 34.3 GHz ± 100 cycles per second (Ka-volume)
Transmitting power: typically 0.5 mW
Profit of the antenna: 30 db (related to isotropic emitter)
Half value width of the radar jet: horizontal 5°
vertically 5°
Angle of camera regarding driving direction: 22°
Measuring range: 25 – 250 km/h
Traffic margins of error: 25 – 100 km/h: ± 3 km/h
100 – 250 km/h: ± 3% (under rounding up to next integral value)In accordance with § 6 exp. 1a of the eichordnung (changed by 3. Regulation of the eichordnung, BGBl. I 2000, S. 1307) is not permissible for the operator of the measuring instrument to use the margins of error according to plan for his advantage.
Stage absolute range appropriate seitenabstand
far approx.. 40 m approx.. 15 m
means approx.. 15 m approx.. 6 m
near approx.. 7 m approx.. 3 m
Measuring direction: After choice flowing of traffic, arriving traffic or traffic judge identification automatically by computers
Photo camera:
Model JACKNAU sight recorder ROBOT 36 DET engine recorders
Exposure time firmly 1/500 s firmly 1/750 s
Objectively Nikor 1:2/85 mm Cutter 1:3,8/75 mm
Negative size 24 x 36 mm 24 x 35 mm
Screen sequence max. 2 Aufn./s max. 2 Aufn./s

Angle between Z-axis and driving direction:
16° with vehicle installation
19° with stand enterprise

Electronic flashes: MB-2E installation lightning
MB-2A mobile lightning
Lightning energy: Basic equipment: 85 Watts and/or. 170 Watts (switchable)
Option: 170 Watts and/or. 340 Watts (switchable)
Reloading time: with 85 Watts: 0.8 s
with 170 Watts: 1.5 s
with 340 Watts: 3.0 s

If you radar detector is able to pick up the Multanova Speed Camera, its doing pretty well considering that the main radiation jet is angled at 22 degrees to the road direction. Also the fact that it only emits 0.5 mwatts. You would probably get more radiation standing close to your microwave oven. It is interesting to note the ambient radiation that emanates from the device in all other directions.

Radiation plate 6F Multanova Speed Camera
This is the radiation pattern around the speed camera. The central protrusion in the graph is the microwave jet.

So an accurately calibrated “off the shelf” Multanova speed camera is at best accurate to plus or minus 3 km/h below 100km/h. That makes a mockery of the Western Australian Police 1km/h tolerance factor, doesn’t it.

Further down in this article you will learn of the “Cosine Effect”. This can vary the reading by as much as 4km/h at 60km/h.

How Speed Camera Radar Works

The basic method of radar speed measurement is:

  • Radar device sends out radio signal
  • Signal strikes a solid object, e.g. an automobile, and is reflected (bounced) back towards the radar receiver.
  • If there is a relative motion between the object and the radar transmitter, the reflected signal will be different from the transmitted signal in frequency
  • The amount of difference (frequency or Doppler shift) indicates the speed of the relative motion
  • On the X-band, for every 1 mph difference in speed there is a 31.4Hz difference in frequency

On the K band, for every 1 mph difference in speed there is a 72.0Hz difference in frequency .

Radar is usually known by letter-band nomenclature, e.g., k-band. speed camera radar is unlike traditional hand-held radar in two important respects, all of which increase its accuracy and make it almost impossible for violators to detect the beam before their violation has been registered. These differences are its low output, which at maximum strength is only twenty-five milliwatts, and its cross-the-road beam, rather than the traditional hand-held down-the-road beam.

The accuracy of the unit is greatly enhanced by these two differences, the low output and the beam direction. The speed camera radar unit beam cuts across the road, and can thus detect the vehicle exceeding the set speed limit at a closer range to the patrol vehicle. Furthermore, with a maximum output of only twenty-five milliwatts, the farthest an object’s velocity has been measured is across 5 lanes of highway. These two differences also result in making the radar beam almost impossible for radar detectors to identify until they have already been recorded by the unit.

Speed camera radar systems usually operate on the K-band at 24.15 GHz. In Western Australia they operate on the Ka-band which is at a higher frequency. This is important because this is designated by the FCC as one of only two bandwidths permanently assigned for use by police radar.

As a car passes through the beam emitted by the radar antenna, the radar antenna makes a series of measurements of the vehicle’s speed. Upon identification of a speeder from these measurements a signal is sent to the central processing unit, which in turn directs the high speed camera to take a photograph of the violator.

Certification of Speed Cameras

Radar units by their nature are sophisticated instrumentation. As such great care is given to the accuracy of various products prior to being put into public use. This is usually by a method called type certification. Several agencies throughout the world specify the requirements for and actually test radar units prior to allowing the sale. The Organization Internationale de Mï’trologie Lïgale (OIML), the Nederlands Meetinstituut (NMI) and the British Home Office are three such organizations.

In Western Australia, the police prefer to use a single camera that takes photographs of the front of the speeding. This has the advantage of identiying the driver at the same time.

Speed cameras in other states of Australia, are setup to take photographs of the rear of the offending vehicles or is some cases, like Victoria both front and back at the same time. This has the advantage of identifying motorbike licence plates that are currently not obtainable with the Western Australian system setup.

In other countries speed cameras are setup to take photographs of the front and or, the rear of a speeding vehicle.

Upon on determining that a violator has been identified, the unit’s internal computer calculates the timing delay for the second camera, based on the speed of the offending vehicle, the length of the patrol car, and the angle of the cameras. The second camera, which is aimed out the front window of the photo-radar vehicle, then takes a photograph. This second image captures the rear of the offending vehicle as it drives away from the unit. This photograph is used to identify the vehicle when no front plate is visible on the first photograph. As with the first photograph, this second violation photograph contains encrypted data pertaining to the time, date and speed of the violation.

Cameras used in photo-radar are usually high-speed, industrial cameras. Unlike other cameras, Photo radar speed cameras are designed for traffic enforcement photography. A high speed flash system is integrated into the photographic unit, allowing for enforcement on a 24-hour basis. The flash unit is usually synchronized at 1/1000 of a second, and is used for both day and night deployments. The flash bulb is sealed within a water-resistant housing, and is located on the outside of the unit. The high-speed of the camera flash allows for the units safe operation during both day and night deployments.

Radar Emission and Detection

Fundamental to the operation of a speed camera system is the emission of a microwave beam and the detection of the reflected signal.

As a car passes through the beam emitted by the radar antenna, the unit additionally undergoes a self-test to verify its accuracy. If it is not operating properly, then the unit automatically enters standby mode. If the self-check is successfully completed, the radar antenna takes a series of measurements of the vehicle’s speed. These figures are then averaged, and if any deviates from the mean by more than 2% the photograph is not taken. Always giving the driver the benefit of the doubt, the radar antenna takes additional measurements of the speeding car passing through its beam. These measurements are then compared to the average speed calculated from the first set of measurements. If any of these deviate, then the vehicle is not photographed.

Tuning Fork

The system may also come equipped with an internal or external Tuning Fork which is used to independently check the vibration at the beginning and end of each deployment. Since standard tuning forks do not create a histogram similar to that created by a vehicle, software capable of distinguishing between actual and simulated vehicle Doppler radar readings must often be employed. This error prevention algorithm must be designed to prevent common mis-reads created by objects found in the urban environment, such as the vibration of electrical substations.

Radar Beam Angle, Width, and Power

Radar antennas emit beams at specific angles and specific power levels depending on the vendor. Using an appropriate angle and low power ensure that radar detectors are incapable of detecting the speed camera until they are in the beam and an accurate speed measurement has already been determined. A 5 degree beam width and an antenna measuring angle of 20 degrees are typical and allows for accurate speed measurements of vehicles on roadways from 1 to 5 lanes in width.

Cosine Effect

Since it is impractical to place a photo-radar unit in same vector as the vehicle being measured, a correction must be made to account for any displacement. A normal deployment frequently set the radar at a 20 degrees angle relative to the direction of travel. The technique for calculating the correction is called the cosine effect.

The cosine effect is used to determine the actual speed of a vehicle given the indicated speed and the angle of the beam.

This relationship is expressed as: True Speed = Indicated Speed/Cosine q

A Power Source

The radar antenna and radar control unit (CU) are usually powered by an independent battery pack, which contains a minimum of two 26Ah 12V DC sealed lead acid marine type batteries capable of supplying all required power for a full day’s operation, and a 240V AC recharging system. The radar antenna and CU can not be operated while the 240V AC recharging system is supplying the battery. This technique complies with all case law requirements regarding a separate power supply for the radar antenna and RDU. These components should not be connected in any way to the vehicle’s battery power.

The Camera Unit

The cameras used in photo-radar systems are high speed industrial cameras. Cameras used in photo-radar system are specifically designed for traffic enforcement photography. The front facing camera’s usual 90 mm lens is designed for capturing the characters on rear license plates. This is of great importance because the lens is the critical ingredient in the quality of the photograph. Picture quality is a function of camera type – digital vs wet film. If wet film is used, lens length and quality, negative size, film type and processing will impact the image quality.

Illumination – Speed Camera Flash Units

A flash tube and optimized lamp reflector is usually required to properly illuminate a vehicle. It must be capable of providing adequate illumination under all light and weather conditions, including:

  • Up to four lanes in one direction
  • Varying levels of ambient light conditions from full sunlight to no external light source

The flash system must also be safe for passing motorists. Many citizens are concerned about frontal flash and may claim that it is unsafe to expose a driver to such a bright light. In reality the flash is intense but of very short duration. It is much less distracting than lightning and there are no cases of recorded accidents resulting from flash units used in photo enforcement. In some cases as in Western Australia, red filters are used over the flash units to reduce the affect but these are most frequently used with black and white film since they produce poor color images.

Flash Intensity

Flash intensity is as critical with photo-radar as it is with other forms of photo enforcement. The lower position of the flash as well as the relative close proximity of the vehicle being photographed aids in obtaining quality photographs. Lighting the interior of a vehicle for purposes of driver identification for those jurisdictions requiring it is equally a problem, however. Cameras are usually pre-adjusted to provide optimum light under the widest range of conditions. However, in the event that an adjustment is required, flash settings can usually be selected on site.

Photograph Rate and Volume

Cameras able to take in excess of two photographs per second are usually used in photo-radar systems. Such cameras are also able to take many thousands of photographs before needing servicing. These cameras far exceed the durability specifications for standard professional 35MM cameras usually seen by professional photographers. Such reliability is very important for high-volume purposes such as traffic photography.

Speed cameras are usually completely automated. This includes automatic camera activation controlled by the radar antenna. The cameras are manually or automatically leveled and pre-aligned with the radar antenna. The film can easily be loaded and unloaded, and any length of film from a standard 36 frame roll to a professional 100 ft. (800 frames) roll can usually be used with the cameras.