Tuesday 21 October 2008

Disabled parking issues

There is news that the government wants to create a central database of all owners of disabled parking tickets, to stop theft and forgery of the bits of blue paper that allow you to park where you want. This seems an expensive exercise in creating yet another central database; yet another place to lose personal data. For it to catch forgeries and theft, every time a parking or police officer saw a car with a disabled permit, they would have to check up on the database. This would build an implicit record of the location of every disabled vehicle in the country, which could be very interesting from a datamining perspective, with only a few civil liberties folk to whine about it. Do those people not realise that the War on Terror requires a few personal freedoms to be put aside?

In Bristol, we are not convinced that the central database makes economic sense. By allowing everyone to park where they want, even half-in a disabled bay, our city has eliminated the need to steal or forge a disabled parking sticker. Thus we get to save lots of money -on the database, and the enforcement. Isn't that a much better idea?

Incidentally, if the government does want to go the database route, we propose RFID-tagged number plates that can be automatically scanned in driveby audits. They would be harder to forge and it would be easier and cheaper to build up a complete database on the movement of people, one the council could get at. As it is today, the ANPR-based national car movement database is not available to the people who be able to use it to find out how people actually drive round the city: the traffic planners.

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