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Congestion Pricing is a Technology, Remember?

In many ways London's system for Congestion Pricing should be model for New York, but in other ways it really isn't. The most obvious way that it isn't is in the actual technology proposed to do the job. Yes there are cameras and computers involved, that's sort of where the similarity ends.

Specifically, in the UK tradition, all of the cameras relay a full video feed to some central processing location. Not only is this absurdly costly (think fibre!!) but it allows for plenty of privacy invasion by anyone who has access to the cameras' feeds. The proposition for New York is very different. The proposition is much cheaper and seems to all but eliminate the possibility of using the cameras for anything but looking at license plates. That's because the cameras would be equipped with enough smarts to know when to snap a photo, and only that still image would be sent to be processed. If you don't believe me, read this excerpt from IBM's recently released proposal:

A worst case analysis shows that for a very busy lane, with one thousand vehicles passing the detection equipment every hour and forced to send two 100kB images for each vehicle, the bandwidth requirement is a mere 57kB/s. This is within the capacity of wireless networks today, but is not the optimal solution approach.

A more realistic case, in which 50% of vehicles are equipped with an E-ZPass tag, 90% of the remaining license plates are read with a sufficient confidence at roadside and 80% of charges are paid in a timely manner, leads to a bandwidth requirement of 8kB/s. A very busy, six-lane detection point would thus be well within the capacity of NYCWiN, even without local reinforcement of the wireless network.

We estimate that, with our proposed solution approach to vehicle detection at the edge of the network and given the estimated amount of traffic in the city, the average local bandwidth requirement across the system will be on the order of less than 1kB/s per lane, and the overall load on the backbone of the wireless network will be small.

More generally speaking, I think it suffices to say that Congestion Pricing uses technology, and as we know technology only gets better and cheaper over time, so we can be sure that NYC's Congestion Pricing technology will be much better and cheaper than London's.

Now, if only somebody would only explain this to all the privacy freaks and civil libertarians that are making this process so painful...

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 3, 2007 10:40 AM.

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