LTO to implement RFID tags on motor vehicles
News about the Land Transportation Office (LTO) implementing RFID tagging on all motor vehicles this October has been making the rounds of the evening news today.
When I first heard about it on the car’s radio, I was surprised — wow, the LTO is going hi-tech. That should be nice. However, some sectors are blocking this move claiming privacy issues.
Nevertheless, from a technical point of view, I think this move by LTO offers more advantages than disadvantages.
This technology is not really new to Philippine highways. The ePass that thousands of cars use to drive thru tollways (NLEX and SLEX) is powered by RFID.
This October 2009, the Department of Foreign Affairs will also implement RFID on all new Passports (ePassport). If you renew your old green passport, it will be replaced with a brown RFID-tagged passport.
Private schools are already using RFID in student IDs for borrowing books and also gates in the campus have RFID ID Scanners (e.g. Claret School of Quezon City and Colegio de San Juan de Letran).
The clothes that you buy in Bench and other apparel stores are also tagged with RFIDs. Those steel gates at the entrance serve as an RFID scanner.
If the same technology is used for all registered cars, it could be a convenience in so many ways:
- Renewals of vehicle registration could be made faster/easier.
- It could also be used to easily identify stolen vehicles.
- All cars can be readily equipped with ePass too — the lines would be faster at the toll gates especially during peak hours. This can also be implemented in parking lots too.
- No need to go to LTO to pay traffic violations. Your RFID could be charged directly (contactless payment) after citation — no more confiscation of driver’s license. That could practically eradicate kotong (what’s the English equivalent?) since traffic cops can no longer blackmail you into going to a 3-day driving seminar in exchange for a small tip.
RFID works like a short-distance radio signal, normally around 10 feet or 3 meters. As such, it cannot be efficiently used to track objects the way GPS can. The issue about privacy is a legitimate concern though.
I still think it’s a good move, though. From reports I’ve heard, the tags will cost motorists around Php400 a pop. I thought that’s a bit expensive since RFID tags are really cheap nowadays.