How IT Fixed London’s Traffic Woes
July 16th, 2003

It’s not the first time that Smart Mobs mentioned the anticongestion scheme based on tolls which started this year in London. This CIO Magazine article concentrates on the information technology behind the scheme and on project management.

One of the smartest moves by Transport for London, the U.K. capital’s transit authority, was to recognize its own limitations and outsource project management. Rather than the typical big-bang approach, the traffic project was divided into five chunks (with an IT contract value of $116.2 million) that could be managed separately. Managers vigorously guarded against scope creep and spread deliverables out over a reasonable timescale. They also opted to integrate proven technologies. The effort was completed on time and on budget — and so far has reduced traffic in the city center by 20 percent.

Check this overview for more details on the project. But let’s look at how London drivers are under surveillance.

In central London, 688 cameras at 203 sites scattered across the 8-square-mile anticongestion area photograph the license plates of the 250,000 cars that traverse it each day. Get photographed.

And get ready for a one-off charge payable for that day. At a data center in central London, Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology is then applied to convert the photograph images to license numbers. Motorists who don’t pay the toll that day are fined about $130, automatically.

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