Hang On to your Smart Tag. Value going up.POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 17 August 2018
The Highway people recently said that they were going to introduce a new system and stop selling Smart Tags.
This means that all of you who own Smart Tags, better don’t tempt thieves. Don’t display them ostentatiously. Because, you Smart Tag owners, are now a privileged few. Feel sorry for those motorists who can’t find somewhere to but a Smart Tag and if there’s nothing done, there’s soon going to be a Black Market for Smart Tags
Pay tolls with RFID instead of Touch ‘n Go and Smart Tag? Think again if you value the money in your bank account.
Suddenly last week, there was an announcement that 16 highways are going to test the RFID system as a future tolling mechanism to replace Smart Tag and Touch ‘n Go.
Beware of the proposed RFID system because it will be linked to your bank account and your exposure is your whole bank account. On the other hand, when you use the Touch ‘n Go card, the maximum that the system can take is the money that you pre-loaded.
RFID is the short-form for Radio Frequency Identification and it had its roots in World War II in conjunction with the development of radio and radar.
It was also surprising because for the past few years, while we had seen the RFID sign on the gantry beside the Smart Tag lane, we had been told that the RFID system had been defeated by the fondness of Malaysian motorists to use non-standard license plates.
You see, the RFID system is normally used in tandem with a video camera that captures the vehicle’s license plates and matches the image with a data base. When the video can’t read the image, the system falls back to the RFID.
Since there hasn’t been a fresh enforcement of vehicle license plates and the situation remains as bad as before, it’s not clear how this RFID system is going to work as a stand-alone system. And since the example of Taiwan has been trotted out, it must be pointed out that Taiwan’s RFID tolling system uses video as the primary tool and RFID is the back-up.
Another thing that you must know about RFID is that your unique code can be cloned and illegally used, with the payments deducted from your bank account.
There are other things that no one is telling you yet about RFID:
- It’s good for tracking livestock like cows and pigs where it’s clipped or embedded in the ear. It won’t be able to work for cars moving at 30 kph if the assumption is that a stand-alone RFID system is going to promote a free-flow system.
On the other hand, if the Ministry of Transport wants to promote a free-flow system, there are two ways.
Using installed equipment, the Smart-Tag system can handle traffic up to 200 kph and the free-flow system was trialed at the NPE highway a few years ago. The experiment went smoothly in the first week. In the second week, some motorists realized that they could go through the free-flow lane without any tag and without getting penalized. In the third week, the experiment was abandoned because the word got around and the free flow system was exploited to the max – it was jammed by free-loaders.
The second way to have a reliable free flow system is based on a combination of GPS (global positioning satellite) and GSM (data communication by telco) and this is used in Germany to toll commercial vehicles. It’s also a system that Singapore is planning. It’s fast, provides plenty of data, but expensive.
- RFID chips or plastic strips are antenna-based so must be installed on non-metallic surfaces, like headlamp lenses and by trained people to ensure that the radio waves are reliably propagated.
My take on the RFID chip issue is that the Touch ‘n Go people are keen to make an impression on the new Transport Minister, YB Anthony Loke, that they are an efficient team.
So, they are springing this RFID thingy out of the blue to show that they are on the ball.
If they really wanted to improve the tolling system, the Touch ‘n Go team should ask the government to enforce compliance on vehicle registration plates, starting with the VIPs and the wannabe VIPs who have fancy number plates so that a barrier-free system can be implemented either with the existing Smart Tag system or a new system.
Secondly, the Smart-Tag lane is not used to its full capacity because it’s not easy to buy the Smart Tag device. I wonder why.
Anyway, Minister of Transport, YB Anthony Loke, hope that you will get a better picture.