RFID and meter maids

Finally finding a parking spot after driving around endlessly can be life saving depending on how elevated your blood pressure got. Finding out you have no change for the meter can almost push you back over the edge. Think about how many times you’ve dived into a local store to buy something in order to get some change, or worse decided to just take the chance and return to a $35 ticket (I live in San Francisco). I’ve seen that there is an effort to put in these giant, most likely costly, electronic meters that have a keypad for account entry. I’ve only seen them around the motorcycle spots in the city. I imagine it’s a pilot to determine the benefits and cost associated with this new kind of metering. Well, I think there is a better answer. I drive through toll booths skipping lines with a little unit in my car that debits an account. I believe all it contains is a small Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFID), which is becoming increasingly more popular in supply chain management. I think the government should put a tag on each license plate so that I don’t have to worry about having change for the meter. I would just pull up and it would debit my account. Of course this would most likely also mean I would be immediately debited for the parking ticket when I park somewhere illegally. Now, I am as big of a privacy concerned citizen as any. Most of my friends know I go so far as to make up names for things such as grocery club cards, but I do think there is more promise to these RFID tags then just letting Wal-Mart know it’s out of Gillette razors.

One thought on “RFID and meter maids”

  1. Well, as it turns out, San Francisco has upgraded all their parking meters to accept digital payments via smart cards. The other day I was at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency renewing my neighborhood parking pass and saw a poster on the wall promoting what looked like a pre-paid parking card for meters. I thought, “when did they get this and how does it work?” So, I asked the lady and she showed me how all the meters were apparently upgraded in 2004 to support this new smartcard debit card system. This is quite possibly the best news I have received from a government entity. In that day alone I had racked up $80 in tickets from not having change to feed the meters. I quickly purchased three $20 cards for myself and a friend. My friend and I have since joked that the city probably purposefully never advertised this program so as to not decrease their ticket revenue!

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