Wednesday, May 9, 2007

RFID vehicle tracking system on the island nation of Bermuda

Traffic at water festival in ThailandWhy? A fairly small island country, with very congested traffic.

"Bermuda is a country with 21 square miles of land, 63,000 people and 47,000 moving vehicles. We're the sixth largest population per square mile. Bermuda has the world's highest density per square mile of motor traffic on its roads," said Randy Rochester, director of Bermuda's Transportation Control Department. "
How? Cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs will receive a windshield sticker embedded with an RFID tag upon registration of their vehicle. Each vehicle gets assigned a number, which is connected to a database. A fixed sensor network will be set up on the island, as well as handheld scanners that are mobile and usable in random locations.
And how else will they use this data? Be afraid, be very afraid.

"A back-office VPS (violation processing system) will automatically generate citations, while the EVR [electronic vehicle registration] system itself will validate commercial vehicle registration and issue violations for trucks operating in restricted areas, during rush hour, without a permit, officials said. "

I wonder if they'll use this for speeding tickets? Or for their equivalent of an Amber alert?

In the California Bay Area, we have a voluntary tracking system, FasTrak, that assigns vehicles a number, and uses sensors to predict commute times based on how long it takes for several of us to go from sensor A to sensor B. It is primarily used for paying bridge tolls without having to stop, and is a very convenient, efficient system. It sounds like Bermuda's system is capable of providing the same benefits as FasTrak, but making it a mandatory system that will also generate citations is just too Orwellian.

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