He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice

A friend just sent me an article from Wired News about a new license plate tracking technology. Right now police are the main users of the technology. An infrared beam reads license plates and then the information is checked against a database of choice to see whether the registered owner has outstanding warrants, tickets, or even perhaps overdue library books. I guess one will have to be a bit more careful about borrowing a car.

As slashdot notes this excerpt shows where the company that makes the technology wants to go with it:

[Andy] Bucholz, who designed some of the first mobile license plate reading, or LPR, equipment, gave a presentation at the 2006 National Institute of Justice conference here last week laying out a vision of the future in which LPR does everything from helping insurance companies find missing cars to letting retail chains chart customer migrations. It could also let a nosy citizen with enough cash find out if the mayor is having an affair, he says.

I can just hear the pitch: Find out the correlations between where one shops, eats, drinks, or relaxes so you can hound the gym-goer with coupons for Whole Foods! Paparazzi? Reporter? Whoever you are track those sleazy, politicians! Follow those crazy [choose conservative, liberal, or your own label].

To be fair there seem to be some valuable applications of the technology. According to the article, the typical system costs around $25,000. New Haven bought one and “In the first 12 hours after New Haven, Connecticut, deployed a G2 Tactics LPR to crack down on parking violations, the city towed or booted 119 cars, resulting in a $40,000 windfall, according to Bucholz.” Now that’s ROI.

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