This isn’t a reason to hate us…

Boy, I don’t know how I got that burr under my saddle when I wrote the last post, but I do know that some clarification needs to be had. I’m a passionate guy. I sometimes fly in the face of reality and need to be trained a bit. I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks.

It seems that the use of data from license plates is not unique to the parking industry. Toll roads do it all the time. Cops, particularly in the EU use data from license plate cameras to control speeding on highways, many municipalities use license plate information to enforce on street parking regs, and in fact, I have a ticket on my desk that I got from such a camera when I slipped through a red light. The issue is not the collection of the license plate or the use of that plate to enforce scofflaws, but what else that data may be used (sold) to do. Therein lies the tale.

It seems that the operator, the equipment supplier and the data collector in this case go to extreme lengths to ensure that the information they supply is to enforce the parking rules, and nothing else. My sincere apologies to those folks for my comments linking them to those data sellers who end up on the rolls of those nincompoops who call you during dinner and try to sell you something, or link to your search engine to supply ads to your home page. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have known one of the founders of the data collection service and know him to be honorable and extremely concerned about the reputation of our industry. He was concerned about being lumped in with those who collect and sell data, and rightly so. Mea Culpa.

The parking industry is constantly looking for technology to make parking easier, safer, faster, and frankly more cost effective for the parking facility owner. Systems like the one in Chicago help greatly to do that. We can argue whether or not that technology is good or bad, but that’s a conversation for another day. As someone mentioned to me earlier today, that ship has sailed.

Let’s face it. The removal of gates does in fact make parking easier for the parker. Enforcement is still important. The alternative is what? Foot patrols – they certainly aren’t cost effective. The requirement for the use of an app for payment and then an on line charge for those who don’t is certainly easier for the parker, and the operator.

I learned a lot about data collection and license plates over the past few days. I certainly know more now than I did then. All the best to those who provide such services, and fight to keep data safe and used for the reason for which it was collected.

I would like to invite anyone to participate in a discussion about this topic. Its important that we understand just how carefully that the information is used.


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