Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for January 6th, 2015

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

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I have on numerous occasions on this blog recommended that speed limit enforcement needs to be upgraded. The BC Liberals, under Gordon Campbell, got rid of photo radar in response their supporters claims that the program was a “cash grab”. No satisfactory examination was conducted on its impact on road safety – so far as I am aware. I have often suggested that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) be used to detect vehicles that travel lengths of road at speeds far above the posted speed limit. ANPR is already used for various travel surveys – such as turning movements through an intersection. My information of course is based on my knowledge and experience which is now very much out of date. When ANPR is used with current data processing techniques its impact is far reaching.

I would still like to see something much more effective being done to reduce the daily experience of seeing most cars on most roads exceeding the speed limit with impunity. But I must admit that reading “How Britain Exported Next-Generation Surveillance” was an eye opener for me.  There is nothing in the article that refers to Canada. But as we saw from the tv news coverage of the attack on Parliament Hill, and many other news stories, there is a lot of surveillance going on here. There was also that appeal for people to look at cctv videos of people who took part in the Stanley Cup riot in downtown Vancouver.

A lot of what has been introduced since September 11, 2001 in the name of security has been very intrusive and arguably not very effective. As the Matter article notes, much of the apparent success of the ANPR system has been due to sheer luck or other  investigative techniques. But in Canada police surveillance of law abiding protests, and tracking of people labelled “extremists” simply because they express a preference for clean air, drinkable water, nutritious food and a livable planet is already a legitimate concern.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm