By on February 1, 2011

License plate recognition, a technology that helps police track down stolen cars, that assists shopping malls in guiding customers to their cars, and that raises privacy concerns when doing so, will be used in Manly County, in Australia’s New South Wales, to combat illegal parking in local streets.

Manly Cove residents need a permit to park there. Police is trying to clamp down on the trading or giving away of parking permits.

So soon, specialized vehicles will roll down Manly Coves’ packed streets and process data of up to 2000 cars per hour, says the Manly Daily.

Manly Council general manager Henry Wong swears that no personal details will be exposed to exploitation through the scheme.

‘‘The only details we will have will be a registration number, which is no different to rangers walking down the street and writing down all the registrations now by hand,’’ he said. The council already uses numberplate recognition in its own carparks to detect any cars ‘‘recirculating’’ after leaving a space. The good old chalk mark has been made obsolete also.

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18 Comments on “License Plate Scanner Obsoletes Meter Maid...”


  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    It would be surprising if this technology was not more widely used, particularly as scanning technology becomes more accurate and less costly.
     
    In December, the North Texas Toll Authority eliminated toll booths, using similar technology to register the license plates of those vehicles that do not have a toll tag. I’ve never taken the time to learn how the toll gets collected (as I have a toll tag), but assume there is some method involving mail and/or online payment.
     
    I can see definite privacy concerns, but those surfaced long before this technology was introduced. Vehicle owners’ privacy was compromised back in 1903, when Massachusetts first required state-issued plates to be displayed.

    • 0 avatar
      kamiller42

      @BuzzDog, I hate the new system, and I don’t use “hate” often. The old system allowed a couple move a tag between cars depending on the needs of the household. The new system requires each car to be registered to a toll tag, meaning you have to buy 2 tags, even when there is only 1 person who uses the tollway on a daily basis.
      We had one car go in the shop for body work. It took over a month to get it done. I used the 2nd car to get to work, flashing the toll tag as I passed the booth. I was still charged the higher rate. Boo to the North Texas Toll Authority!

  • avatar

    Here in the NY metro area, police agencies are buying these up left and right.  Pretty much every department has at least one car with scanners, and I’ve represented a dozen or so folks with suspended licenses/no insurance/dmv screwed up situations.
    One agency just parks the car at the entrance  to the local mall and the cops wait for the device to go ‘ping’.  No actual police work or probable cause.  They’ve automated the radio call….”34 to central…rolling plate number ABC 123…westbound on Main and Railroad Avenue
    My car dealer gave me a loaner yesterday, and exhorted me NOT to use an ez-pass, as you are now scanned at all toll booths and if the plate does not match the pass, the plate owner gets a fine notice.
    Using this for parking issues is not a great stretch…but the slope is quite slippery and steep…and we are gaining speed.
    BTW, why do all these crappy ideas come from Aus or GB ?

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      “…you are now scanned at all toll booths and if the plate does not match the pass, the plate owner gets a fine notice.”
       
      That may explain why Texas simultaneously switched from box-style passes that attached with Velcro and could be easily switched from car to car, and now uses a sticker-type pass that is destroyed when removed (and hard as heck to remove, as we found out when we recently sold a car).
       
      Unless the intent is to deter theft of passes, I’ve yet to see the logic of this. Oklahoma (a state in which I also hold a pass) makes it easier; you can register multiple vehicles to one pass, and add or delete them online.

    • 0 avatar
      kamiller42

      @BuzzDog, I hate the new system, and I don’t use “hate” often. The old system allowed a couple move a tag between cars depending on the needs of the household. The new system requires each car to be registered to a toll tag, meaning you have to buy 2 tags, even when there is only 1 person who uses the tollway on a daily basis.

      We had one car go in the shop for body work. It took over a month to get it done. I used the 2nd car to get to work, flashing the toll tag as I passed the booth. I was still charged the higher rate. Boo to the North Texas Toll Authority!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Unless the intent is to deter theft of passes, I’ve yet to see the logic of this.
       
      Logic looks obvious to me: Force extra sales of unneeded toll passes.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      @kamiller42, that’s exactly my point. I usually drive to Dallas, but occasionally fly in and rent a car. Not particularly convenient.
       
      @Steve65: Force extra sales of unneeded toll passes.
      You would think so – and perhaps this differs in other states – but to my knowledge the NTTA doesn’t charge for an additional pass. The only logic I can see is that the decal-style passes are much less expensive for the Authority than the old box-style ones: Perhaps some bureaucrat simply thought it was just as easy to require users to get an additional decal, without thinking through all of the scenarios such as kamiller42′s and my own.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    North of Philadelphia suburb there was a police car sitting in the turn lane with his flashers on with two scanners sitting on his trunk. So they are here and in Ohio too.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    There is little to no expectation of privacy when it comes to your car’s plate. It specifically identifies the vehicle and registered owner since ultimately it distinguishes your Lime Green Audi A-5 from the dozen or so parked together at a shopping mall.
    It is within bounds to verify the car is properly licensed (no plate swapping) and to determine if the owner is breaking any laws or even wanted for warrants. The plate is critical information in investigations and used in enforcing laws, even if they are silly parking restrictions created by overzealous city councils.
    The problems start when license tags are recorded and used for information fishing expeditions outside of the purposes of licensing cars or enforcing laws. It’s a thin line between nefarious and innocent use of data. None of this is public information despite the argument being made that the general public can see plates. Using the state to track, gather and organize specific travel habits of cars (and by proxy their owners) runs afoul of the U.S.C. Insurance companies repeatedly place claim on data such as this since they have a financial stake in the operation and use of a vehicle, note they prefer to use Other People’s Data rather than pay for their own system (unless they can get you to agree to cooperate).
    In order to stop the practice or prevent it from expanding checks need to be in place and individuals have to pay attention to what’s going on. Good luck with that. Who cares about privacy when so many other matters are pressing at the moment.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Here is bucolic Bristol, Connecticut, the city has hired a private firm to to after people who haven’t paid their car taxes. To do so, they have vans driving around, through parking lots and even along residential streets, scanning license plates. If they find a plate that is on their list? CLAMP goes the boot.

    A few years ago the State of Connecticut went from an easily stolen plate registration sticker to a windshield registration sticker. When I recently received an emissions test reminder letter from the state it included a notice that as of last August the windshield stickers were no longer required. I guess I know why now.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    ‘Shorten the Yellow’
    Automated parking fine collection will encourage localities to make parking regulations more intricate and lead to more violations/revenue.  Though parking is not traffic light related, it is subject to the same bureaucratic trick book of shortening yellow light duration.
     
    Even now, there are towns of similar size with large differences in parking regulations.
    One city has simple parking rules (i.e. ‘Payment required M-F 8am-5pm), and other cities have 2-4 stacked rules signs for just one short stretch of on-street parking with varying times, dates, zones.
    Guess which city collects more parking fines.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    So let’s say I have 2-3 cars and instead of going with car N°1 go out with the 3, or the wife choose to use N°2 to take me to the work and the kid to school, and we have say 1 or 2 parking passes, we can’t use them?
     
    WTF?
     
    Seriously, people should start taking example from that people protesting now and give a severe kick in the ass to governments.

    All this rubbish reminds me an Iranian writer (lady) who more or less said in one of her books: since you have to pay attention on how you are dressed, your makeup, how you walk… you don’t have time to think about the way things are in the country… the same applies here.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      What the iranian writer cited is probably not so much a cover for bad government, but more probably a consequence of bad government (fuelled by bad idiology.)

  • avatar
    straightsix

    Washington, DC has had similar technology for a while as well.  Their enforcement for time limits in residential areas is usually zone-wide.  You can park for 2 hours (the limit without a residential permit) move your car 5 blocks and STILL get a parking ticket.
    DC has elevated parking enforcement to a very high level.  I think it’s about the only thing they are competent at.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    If this hasn’t made it to Chicago, I’m sure it has been ordered….
     
    Interestingly though, the city tried to install plate readers on street sweepers, to automatically ticket those who didn’t move their cars on sweep days.  They said they eventually gave up because there was too much motion and they could not get the plates to read anything but fuzzy.
     
    So, how does this avoid the motion/bouncing problem of moving vehicles?

  • avatar
    SpinnyD

    these have been used in Philadelphia for the parking system for a while now as anyone who has watched “Parking Wars” can attest. I saw them using these 2-3 years ago on that program, the meter checker just drove down the street while the system automatically checked all of the cars. Those with fines or warrants got booted, all of them.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    These types of scanners have been on police cars for several years.  Usually there are two, one on each side so the police can drive down a aisle of parked cars and look for whatever.  Years ago when I was in the parking industry, the Holy Grail for revenue collection for parking facilites was the idea that plates could be scanned in and out, and the parking fee displayed.  No more tampering and theft by the employees, which ran rampant at some garages.  You would have a guy who never went on vacation because they had a carefully concocted ripoff scheme.  Then one day he’s out due to a medical emergency.  Suddenly revenue would spike 20 percent.  So there are legit uses for these things.


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