Smile, we have your License Number

I was asked by a reporter from the LA Times to comment on a parking guidance system located in a brand new shopping mall here in LA. It uses license numbers to track vehicles and to determine whether there is a car in a space. Signage then directs cars to empty spaces and all is right with the world. (Yes there is a camera monitoring each space.)

She was tangentially concerned about the “big brother” effect of knowing every license number and how long one stayed at the mall. My Comment:

Hmmmmm  I’m always a tad concerned about collecting random information about vehicles going about their business. In most cases of cities using license plate recognition technology they run the collected plates through a database to see if they have past due fines, and in some cases, if they are stolen. (This is often done in real time.) Then assuming neither is the case, the numbers are dumped.

I would check with the manufacturer of the guidance system about this, but I would think the data would be dropped when the vehicle exited the garage. There are some great benefits to knowing which license number is in which space, particularly in finding lost cars. They can also tell when cars have been abandoned and can use the license number to replace parking tickets. However there is a slight drawback with this as you need to actually remember you license number when you go to a kiosk to check out and also there must be a way to deal with validations.  My guess is that the shopping center would not want the license numbers used in any way except to find the vehicles if lost

So, whatcha think? Did I blow it with the Main Stream Media. I know this reporter and she is usually pretty fair. I’ll link to the article when it printed.


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One Response to Smile, we have your License Number

  1. Interested Party says:

    I’ll tell you what I think….I don’t think that such an application is financially viable. How can an owner reasonably afford to purchase and install a system that requires a camera in every parking space? I just don’t see it.

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