Information Science researchers from University of Pretoria (UP) take critical look at ethical concerns and social impact of E-Toll

Posted on February 12, 2014

Particular attention was given to the effect such a system would have on society, and under what conditions such a system could be accepted by the public.

“We found that while the technologies may assist in the improvement of the physical infrastructure of a country, ignoring social impact issues could hamper the successful implementation of the system,” said Hommes and Holmner.

“Although there are many international cases to consider, our preliminary investigation into the Gauteng Open Road Tolling system and other international examples of such systems offered much insight into the ethical considerations and societal concerns around Open Road Tolling,” they stated.

Insofar as the technology – and the information ethical issues related to its use – is concerned, Hommes and Holmner explained that the umbrella term Intelligent Transport System (ITS) is used to describe the integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and applications used in effective road network management. “These applications include CCTV surveillance and Automated Open Road Tolling through the use of radio communication infrastructure such as e-tags and highway gantries.”

Hommes and Holmner further explained that technologies utilised by ITS place motorists under constant surveillance and monitor transit behaviour in real time.

“E-toll in Gauteng has been a topic of debate for many since its implementation in December 2013. As the capture of personal information is essential in an ITS, information ethical concerns surrounding privacy and security of personal information belonging to motorists have been raised,” they said.

“However, the big question was whether or not such technological sophistication and economic gains are the primary success factors to any ITS. We also wanted to find out what effect such a system would have on society, and under what conditions such a system would be accepted by the public.

“In the end we came to the conclusion that while these technologies may assist in the improvement of the physical infrastructure of a country, ignoring social impact issues could be detrimental. Our research is ongoing.”

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