We don’t care if it works or not

TheNewspaper.com, in its article on Oklahoma’s proposed traffic camera system for insurance verification (which was previously mocked here and here), points out a significant drawback to the technology to be deployed:

Widespread use of [automated number-plate recognition] in the UK has resulted in a large number of innocent drivers being stopped over insurance verification problems. AA reported in February that it received 20 “mistaken identity” calls per week, mostly generated by errors in the recognition of characters like O and 0 on a license plate. In at least one case, the mistake turned deadly.

On May 19, 2008 a Northumbria, UK police officer engaged in hot pursuit of a vehicle that had been flagged by the plate recognition system. While speeding through the neighborhood, the officer struck and killed sixteen-year-old Hayley Adamson. It turns out that the database information that triggered the alarm was incorrect and the car being chased … had done nothing wrong.

And one vendor, responding to the Oklahoma request for proposals, brought up this set of issues:

“If the query response is returned with a disclaimer regarding accuracy, and a citation is generated based on inaccurate data, that will ensure negative press and possibly litigation, none of which will help generate revenue and so, projections must be reduced,” a vendor stated in an April 27 amendment. “The vendor and DPS will be accused of ‘trolling’ … not really knowing status but hoping that enough vehicle owners will actually be driving uninsured vehicles to make the system profitable. This is certain to create a vast number of failed citations, a very high level of bad press, public resistance and reduced revenues… If a name and address is sent in a broadcast email to many insurers, that would be in clear violation of both state and federal DPPA laws, inviting challenge in the courts and also greatly reduce the ability to provide revenues to the state; that too means that current projections would have to be reduced; this is a serious problem with the current system.”

The Department of Public Safety, in response, said basically “Screw ‘em. We’re the goddamn Department of Public Safety.”

Okay, what they really said:

“It is respectfully suggested that the vendor concentrate on providing a system for verification of out of state car tags and spend less effort on concerns about OCIVS, per the RFP.”

This has FAIL written all over it.


  1. fillyjonk »

    9 June 2010 · 7:22 am

    They’re spending time and effort on this, why? Because they have such a giant budget surplus and all the roads and bridges are in tip-top condition? (I know, I know: it’s a revenue generator, it’s a different department, and it’s a separate company undertaking it, but still. When I practically lose a tire in a pothole on 69/75, I’m not exactly reassured to think that they’ve verified that I’m insured).

  2. ak4mc »

    9 June 2010 · 9:00 am

    It turns out that the database information that triggered the alarm was incorrect and the car being chased … had done nothing wrong.

    Except, you know, run from the cops…

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