[pp.int.general] IBM Smarter Traffic in Stockholm

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Tue Mar 9 13:53:21 CET 2010

> Hey you guys,
> I 've just seen IBM commercials advertising the IBM traffic "solution"
> in Stockholm. It says that every license plate is fotographed as the
> car enters the city. Here is the movie and the comcept:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33T7VxT2O40
> http://www.bitkom.org/files/documents/Presentation_Krogdahl_IBM_08_11_07.pdf
> Well, first I would like to know what you think of that and if the
> Swedish Pirate Party has been focusing on that topic lately. Then,
> what bigger implications does it have for solutions to the traffic
> problems all over Europe (and further) - I am thinking on the
> Netherlands where the cars are supposed to be completely monitored
> soon - and are there approaches to think of systems that do not rely
> on surveillance? If - of course - I didn't missunderstand something
> and the Swedish Pirates are actually fine with it.
> Cheers,
> Fabio from Germany
On the Dutch situtation:
- Dutch road pricing plans lately became ever more politically 
controversial. And now that the government resigned, the system is unlikely 
to be implemented anytime soon. Note that the road pricing project did not 
intend to follow the whereabouts of people (but admittedly one never knows 
the real, covert purposes). Road pricing intended to incite people not to 
use the road during rush hour unless necessary, and to make taxation more 
honest, based on the actual use of roads rather than the possession of cars. 
Not everybody trusts tthe government to be honest though: cars traditinally 
always were a cash cow for taxation. The benefit (for the government) is the 
low "elasticity": people don't stop using cars if taxes increase.

Anyway, people imho don't need monetary incentives to avoid traffic jams: 
they do so anyway.

- Recently there was turmoil because the police kept photographs of licence 
plates longer than allowed by law. The (now resigned) Minister of the 
Interior simply proposed to chaneg the law. (She is one of the winners of 
this years'Dutch "Big Brother" prizes).

- In the past years, Dutch police chiefs voiced various plans for 
"electronic moats", to monitor everyone entering and leaving big cities. In 
my opinion, not just these plans are awkward, but the police chiefs 
fundamentally should *execute* laws, not *propose* laws, in a state that 
claims not to be a police state.

Perhaps we should look at it from the positive side: any plans for systems 
to reduce traffic burden/and or more "honest" car taxation are bound to fail 
if people don't trust the government an believe such projects are just a 
pretext to implement systems to monitor people constantly.

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