Hoboken RFID Eases Parking, Worries Privacy Activists

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-06-12 Print this article Print

RFID may be improving the parking situation in Hoboken, but the technology's ability to glean information from citizens is raising privacy concerns.

Radio frequency identification is traveling deeper into public spaces, particularly in the city of Hoboken, New Jersey.

With 40,000 residents crammed into its one-square-mile borders, and the city situated along the New Jersey Transit path into New York City, Hoboken is quite literally overrun with cars.

"We're basically the sixth borough of New York. We're very over populated and every parking space is a commodity," said John Corea, director of parking for the city of Hoboken. "We have 4,000 outside spaces and garage space is 12,000. And there are transients everywhere."

Citizens and itinerate parkers vie daily for the relatively small amount of available and legal parking spaces—often foiling local authorities with out-of-date or fake parking permits.

To better get a handle on the situation, Hoboken officials installed in 2005 tiny, passive UHF [ultra high frequency] RFID chips in all newly issued parking permits, giving parking enforcement officers the ability to distinguish, in an instant, between residents and non-residents and identify counterfeit permits.

Hoboken officials learned about RFID from one of the city's vendors, Paylock, which provides parking lifecycle management solutions—from digital permits to collection management software.

"RFID just evolved," said Corea. "We've been with Paylock for two years, and they brought it to the city of Hoboken. It is just the future."

A parking enforcement officer equipped with a RFID-enabled laptop can point at an RFID parking sticker and get a read out on a host of information: the owner's name, address, registration number, phone number and permit specifications, as well as the location of the car and whether it's supposed to be where it is.

"Absolutely every car that walks in we know where they go, where they've been—you have a full history across the board," said Corea.

"There's a lot of advantages. We never knew who our customers were, now you know. In a minute, you have everything—driving history, everything."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: City of Hoboken Using RFID in Parking Permits


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