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Camera captures Truckee road conditions for web travelers

ELAINE MARSHALL

Travelers can see for themselves what the weather and traffic in Truckee are like before stepping out the front door.

A camera mounted behind the factory outlet plaza on Donner Pass Road sends digital photographs of Interstate 80 near the bug station to the Internet every few seconds. By connecting to http://www.nosa.com, locals and out-of-towners can get a first-hand look at traffic and weather on the highway that delivers thousands to Truckee every weekend.

It’s a project of MagnifEYE, owned by Truckee-resident Jonathan Sass, who installed the camera looking over I-80 and created the web site. The site also shows road conditions in Reno.

“I get a lot of calls from my friends in the Bay Area asking what the traffic is like. Locals use scanners. People don’t seem to believe Caltrans reports. They want to see it for themselves,” Sass said.

The camera has been up since January, but Sass is officially unveiling the site for the July 4 weekend – after he’s sure all the bugs are worked out and he has found advertisers to sponsor the site. He wants to square things away by winter when he expects heaviest use of the web site.

“We picked the camera location because it’s where the chain-up trucks are in the winter,” he said.

Sass also hopes to expand the business by ski season.

“I envision big screens at the ski lodges showing the web site for people to look at when they’re done skiing. They can decide if they want to stay for dinner or get into traffic,” Sass said.

Sass plans to install more digital cameras, made specifically for internet use by Active Imaging in Incline Village, at other key traffic points, perhaps as far away as Auburn. He’s also looking into running Caltrans’ electronic highway messages along with the images.

Bay Area travelers

He surmises Bay Area residents will use the service the most.

“For years I’ve heard people complain that the media in the Bay Area never gets the information about the Truckee-Tahoe area right,” he said.

There’s one camera on Donner Summit, part of the International Weather Network, that transmits images of I-80 on Donner Pass every 15 minutes (www.iwn.com/sierra.html). The site also posts the temperature, humidity, wind speed and barometric pressure.

MagnifEYE’s images are updated every few seconds.

“A movie shows at 30 frames per second. The web site shows a frame every two to 10 seconds, depending on your internet connection,” Sass said.

Without any notice or advertising, about 100 web surfers have stumbled onto the site so far, Sass said. He has been spreading the word locally for about a week to gauge response and work out kinks in time for the high season this summer. He hopes to fund the site and future expansions by posting advertising from national companies, such as airlines or car companies.

“An ad could be something like ‘Wouldn’t you rather be driving here in a Ford?'” Sass said. The site is currently being funded by an export company called NOSA.

For information, call 587-1128.


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