I remember reading an article in Forbes several years back, about a fellow that had invented what he thought was a great idea for tracking down stolen vehicles, with a camera that scans license plates on moving vehicles.
He formed a company, G2Tactics, in Alexandria, VA., and started selling them for $25,000 each to police departments. The police had much more to do, than tackle an insurance-industry problem.
I’m telling you all this, because the Alexandria based company was presented with the city’s Technology Achievement Award last week.
It turned out that the county is using the camera to identify people with outstanding parking tickets and personal property taxes. The Arlington offices have collected over $90,000 using the camera, now known as the Bootfinder. The city has claimed a whopping $500,000 for overdue parking tickets and motor vehicle taxes.
The product is now sold as “GLAVID” or “Platefinder.” It now uses an infrared camera to read license plates and compare them to a state wide database.
In the early stages, G2Tactics had sold only 17 cameras, just two to a law enforcement department.
“I was so dense,” says Andrew Bucholz the inventor. “There was money to be made in taxing and parking fines. And to top it off, the tax departments have money to spend.”
A driver in New Haven, Conn. was tagged with a $8,000 hit, while parked outside his favorite restaurant.
New Haven now faces one lawsuit that claims the practice of using the BootFinder to identify delinquent owners and then towing their vehicles is the same as an illegal search and seizure.
This hasn’t deterred Arlington County, which has found a new job for its surveillance camera. They plan to use the camera to nab citizens who are on the county’s delinquent list for just about anything. Including late park and recreation fees to overdue library books. Is there no shame in using high tech devices to nab the cheaters?
This week’s bottom line: Big Brother is on the loose, watch out where ever you go? Smile! You’re on Candid Camera.
Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.