With the projected rollout date of the intelligent number plate (iNP) project set for October 2010 in Gauteng, Limpopo province has also officially announced its intention to introduce the system. As with any new project, there have been many naysayers, yet when one digs deeper, the hidden benefits of the new scheme become ever clearer.
Enforcement of the traffic laws is the most obvious benefit, particularly in a country with the highest number of road deaths in the world. Controlling drivers would result in a certain reduction of these numbers. But there is huge potential here for private initiatives to make use of the system, in tandem with the now measurable control of law enforcers themselves. To start with the law enforcers, Metro Police currently measure performance against the number of fines issued but this system is flawed. Law enforcers can fall prey to the temptation of accepting bribes, and can also bypass the system with shortcuts to avoid having to work harder than necessary.
If a law enforcer needs to issue 20 fines per day, it is very easy to remain in one small area and issue fines continuously on the same vehicles without spreading further afield to control transgressors in other areas.
The new system could measure this performance by disallowing fines issued in favoured areas, forcing law enforcers to move further afield. If a vehicle owner has been fined for a transgression, there cannot be another fine issued for the same transgression for a holding period of two weeks. The area of operation can also be monitored to track movement and regular visits to one area will be noted for correction. Now it becomes harder to meet performance targets, ensuring our Metro Police are more visible on the roads. In addition, once a vehicle has been pulled over for breaking road laws, a fine must be issued which lays to rest the nagging problem of bribery.
To bring into play the potential for private initiatives, the new radio frequency identification (RFID) tag can be used for access control purposes too. In large residential complexes or office parks, authorised persons need only drive close enough to the reader to gain instant access. No need for tags, remotes or security books – authorised visitors can be added to the system too, saving a big headache for all. Another seemingly innocuous problem is controlling the use of public parking facilities, where vehicles are permitted to park for free for a certain period of time. A simple solution can control those individuals that repeatedly move their car in and out to avoid paying parking fees – a vehicle’s tag is registered on entering the first time and can be blocked from re-entering within a certain period.
The options are endless and a little imagination will certainly see a flood of solutions in the private sector that will surprise us all once the system begins to roll out.
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