April 20, 2010

Britain Testing New Satellite-Enabled Speed Cameras

New high-tech speed cameras that use satellites to help track speeders are being secretly tested in Britain, according to various media reports published on Tuesday.

According to Luke Salkeld of the Daily Mail, "The hi-tech devices can follow drivers' progress for miles to calculate whether they have broken speed limits"¦ Combining number plate recognition technology with global positioning satellites, they can be set up in a network to monitor tens of thousands of cars over huge areas for the smallest breach."

The system is known as SpeedSpike, and it uses the same kind of technology that allows London cameras to enforce the congestion charge. Using satellite technology, two cameras can communicate with each other if sensors detect that a vehicle has travelled too far in too little time.

It was developed by Hampshire-based PIPS Technology Ltd. and can calculate average speed between any two locations covered by the network. According to a House of Commons report, cited by reporters at telegraph.co.uk, the device is capable of "number plate capture in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day" and is said to be affordable and easy to install.

The Telegraph is reporting that the SpeedSpike system is being tested at two locations: "one in Southwark, London, and the other A374 between Antony and Torpoint in Cornwall."

Geoffrey Cox, a conservative Member of Parliament who represents an area near one of the two test sites, told Salkeld that several questions needed to be answered before the program was expanded. "You always have to ask if it is really necessary to watch over people, to spy on them and film them," he said. "We will get to a point where it becomes routine and it should never be a matter of routine that the state spies on its citizens."


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