Overhead scanners could soon be collecting data from vehicles on Cayman’s roads.
The first scanner, which will be fitted to a gantry over the roadway, is being assembled and will be located on South Sound Road.
It will read the details from each vehicle’s electronic number plate to determine if it is licensed, registered and insured. The data will be provided to police.
Tristan Hydes, deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Infrastructure, said the South Sound gantry would be the first of a network of scanners covering the island’s major roadways.
Eventually, he said, the network could evolve to link with the court system and issue tickets electronically for a variety of motoring offences.
“That is some way in the future,” he acknowledged.
For now the machines will simply provide data to police to follow up on. They will also provide traffic volume statistics at key locations around the island.
Charles Brown, the ministry’s point person on the new system, said the scanners would look similar to those used to track payments on toll roads in the US, like the Florida SunPass system.
“When your car goes under the gantry it will read it and send the information back to us,” he said.
The fixed scanners are one part of a new enforcement system. The DVDL has switched over thousands of the cars on Cayman’s roads to new electronic license plates fitted with radio frequency identification tags.
Traffic police are getting RFID readers that will be able to scan the plates or tag and immediately tell them if the car’s license, registration and other details are up-to-date.
Answering concerns that the police did not appear to have the required readers and were not using the system in a major way at this stage, Hydes said there had been a marginal rollout with a small number of readers.
He acknowledged there had been delays in implementation but government and its private sector partner, Sistemat, S.A. Tonnjes C.A.R.D. International, were collaborating on a newer version of the readers, which he expects to be available to all traffic cops by the end of this year.
Government entered into a 5-year $1.5 million contract with the Panama-based company to implement the new electronic license plate and vehicle registration system in early 2016, according to previous news reports.
Hydes said the new-generation readers would be provided as part of the same contract.
“They are releasing a newer version,” he said,
“We are hoping for Q3 to see it in operation, and after that we will be talking with the police about how many they need.”
Brown said the long-term goal was to integrate government’s computer systems to allow police to use the scanners to check for motoring offences linked to the vehicle or driver.
Eventually he said it could be used for automatic ticketing.
“The long-term game is to capture road offences, things like suspended drivers licences, disqualifications and insurances.
“The changes in the traffic law give us the opportunity to link with the court system when the court is ready,” he said.
At this stage though, the scanners will simply allow police to quickly determine if a car is licensed, registered and insured.
Brown said the system also helped prevent fraud, by linking a licence plate directly to a vehicle.
“If you scan the car and it says it is a black Taurus and you are looking at a white Honda then you know there is a problem,” he said.
He said the new system was also designed to make life easier for motorists, allowing them to renew their vehicle licence online rather than wait at the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing.
An amnesty for unlicensed vehicles is also helping officials clean up their register and eliminate vehicles which have been junked or destroyed.
Brown said the amnesty was enabling people who had kept their cars off-road for a number of years to get back in the system without being hit with severe back fees.