The Government will not dictate a standard technology to be used to record the passage of vehicles along any toll road constructed under the new transport strategy.
The parties to any toll-road construction will decide on the technology to be used, says a spokesman for transport minister Paul Swain.
If this involves electronic devices fitted to vehicles, the builders of the first such road may effectively define the technology for all subsequent exercises, if the country is to avoid vehicles festooned with various kinds of sensors.
Suggestions from drivers have ranged from compulsory purchase of an expensive global positioning (GPS) sensor, with the potential to track every vehicle, to an inexpensive radio-frequency identifier (RFID) chip, similar to those used to track movements of freight containers by reading a short-range radio signal.
Electronic identifying devices, it has been suggested, might be illegally manipulated, forged or stolen, in the same manner as credit cards, so as to visit the toll charge on someone else, or on a fictitious person.
Swain’s spokesman says these risks, and precautions available to reduce or eliminate them, would clearly depend on the type of technology chosen.
Planning for the other major IT-relevant aspect of the strategy, electronic collection of road-user charges, has begun.
“A business adviser and a programme manager have been appointed and work has started. The first stage is expected to be completed mid-2003, when an update may be available,” says Swain through his representative.