One of the three cameras will be installed near the central mirror covering only the driver, while the other two will be set up externally on the front and rear of the taxi. None of the cameras will cover the passengers. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: All taxi drivers in Dubai will soon be under the constant watch of surveillance cameras, keeping track of their behaviour as well as their fatigue levels, Gulf News can confirm.

According to a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official, the entire fleet of around 9,500 taxis in Dubai will be equipped with the special cameras in phases, completing the project by early 2018.

Gulf News reported earlier this year when the RTA piloted surveillance cameras on a select batch of taxis.

“We have successfully completed the trial and we found the cameras useful in improving operational efficiency. We are now in talks with all the franchises to begin the installation of the cameras which will be done in phases over the next year,” said Adel Shakeri, director of Transportation Systems at RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

Interestingly, the surveillance system will not cover any of the passengers to protect their privacy.

“The surveillance system will have each taxi equipped with three tiny cameras, one installed near the central mirror of the vehicles, covering only the driver, while the other two are set up at the front and rear of the taxi, externally. None of the cameras will show the passengers,” said Shakeri.

The cameras will be connected to the operation command centre (OCC) of the Public Transport Agency, but it will not relay live feed.

“In the first phase, the cameras will not provide live footage from the taxis, but they will be connected to the OCC and whenever required we will be able to download the footage,” added Shakeri.

According to Shakeri, the surveillance system is as much about monitoring the activities of the taxi drivers as it is about finding proof in cases of disputes.

“The system will have technology to detect fatigue levels of drivers, but in the first phase we are primarily looking into using it as an operational tool. This will in a way help taxi drivers prove their innocence when they face complaints against them,” he added.

Apart from enhancing operational efficiency of the taxis, the CCTV cameras are expected to improve the level of security for passengers as well.

“The cameras will help RTA monitor the performance of drivers, to see if the drivers are taking the necessary steps to improve the comfort level of the passengers,” said Shakeri.

Surveillance cameras are the latest in a series of enhancements Dubai’s fleet of taxis is going through. Last month, RTA announced Dubai taxis will soon have interactive LCD screens, while passengers will be able enjoy free WiFi on a fleet of limousine taxis.

Some of the smart gadgets on taxis include Global Positioning System, tailgating alert system and Nol and credit card payment options that are now available on all taxis.

Last year, taxis in Abu Dhabi were equipped with surveillance cameras.