January 21, 2008 7:46 AM PST

Australian government revs up license plate cameras

Australian government revs up license plate cameras
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CrimTrac, the Australian government's criminal information and intelligence agency, is taking the first steps toward developing a nationwide automatic number plate recognition system to capture the vehicle details of suspects and citizens alike.

Australia already has some ANPR systems fitted to existing road surveillance equipment, including speed cameras, to scan and read the license plates of passing vehicles at a rate of up to five or six cars a second. Once captured, the data is checked against a database featuring a "hot list" of registration numbers and plates.

"We have various agencies across a number of states already using ANPR technology," said Darren Booy, ANPR program manager for CrimTrac.

"At the moment, we're conducting a scoping study to determine the feasibility of implementing a national ANPR network," he said.

The study will conclude late this year, after which a report will be issued to police ministers across the country and a range of other government departments at state and federal levels.

According to Booy, CrimTrac expects a national rollout will take anywhere between one to four years, depending on the response to the report and how long it takes to secure funding for the project.

One of the most extensive ANPR networks has already been installed in the U.K. The nationwide rollout was implemented in 2003 by the Home Office and 23 police forces across England and Wales, to allow police to trace vehicles that have been stolen or used in crimes.

"We looked at the U.K. experience as part of the study; it's probably the most advanced integration of ANPR technology anywhere in the world, and we'll draw on those experiences, but primarily it will have to suit the Australian context," said Booy.

Booy told ZDNet Australia that part of the study will involve an initial approach to market, offering vendors the chance to express their interest in partnering with the government, CrimTrac, and the various state and territory police forces to develop the surveillance network.

CrimTrac will also be conducting a comprehensive privacy impact assessment in conjunction with the scoping study after widespread use of the technology overseas raised the concerns of privacy advocates.

"In developing this system we're very conscious of complying with all stipulated privacy regulations and protections," said Booy.

"What we're looking at is about enhancing public safety, so the benefits to law enforcement have to be considered relative to privacy."

Marcus Browne of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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9 comments

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License Plate Scanning
This kind of stuff makes me very uneasy. Computers and advances in technology seems to be giving government the ability to track our every move.

What's next? Do we get Borg implants and transmitters in our heads so the government can track our every move in order to "Keep Us Safe"?
Posted by Greg5A (113 comments )
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Entrapment
My parents live in Australia and over the years must have paid thousands of dollars in fines thanks to these hidden cameras. They are strategically placed to generate as much revenue as possible and will flash if you are doing a mere 5K's (3 miles) over the limit. Not only are there privacy issues involved, they operate under the elusion of saving lives, which they have been not proven to do anyway.
Posted by AJ Pants (143 comments )
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also...
this can be used to track political dissidents, and other people who have not committed crimes but are not liked by TPTB.
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
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Interpretive speed limits
Once I was doing the legal 60K on a four-lane inner surub road in Melbourne -- and a cop pulls alongside and yells, "Move it, you're holding up traffic.

Yair, the average speed along there in morning rush hour was 80K. They didn't put out the speed camera at that spot until about 9:15 ...

The open road speed limit used to be 110K but they dropped it back to 100. But in outback Queensland, on what's called development roads, the signs are still 110. These roads have alternate sections of one sealed lane and gravel on the other side. Meeting a road train along there is kinda exciting ...
Posted by NoVista (274 comments )
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read again
The cameras don't make them speed you bozo. As I said, they are strategically placed, such as in zones that quickly drop from 80 to 60 Ks an hour.
That's entrapment.
Posted by AJ Pants (143 comments )
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your the clown
None of your supposed info is in the article (or your previous post for that matter) and strategically placed or not people are expected to follow them. Instead of taking it up on CNET and acting like a chile you should be writing your local news or politician.
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
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