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Tagging the world via RFID

Tom S. Noda | Jan. 11, 2010
With all the fuss that's been going around the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) radio frequency identification (RFID) project, only one thing is certain -- RFID, per se, will affect many people's lives.

"RFID's potentials are very wide. It is tamper-proof, a permanent identification for vehicles," Dizon says, claiming the system could address the problems of "colorum" vehicles (unregistered public transport), assist in law enforcement by serving as deterrent to crimes such as carnapping, smuggling, and illegal switching of plate numbers.

LTO believes the system will be an effective tool in land transport planning and traffic management. It will also provide protection to commut ers since it can automatically identify and verify franchise records of public utility vehicles (PUV).

And besides solving traffic woes, Dizon adds RFID technology can also address concerns on air pollution as it ensures road worthiness of vehicles and strict compliance with the Clean Air Act by eradicating the practice of "non appearance" in emission testing centers.

"A lot of things can be unified by using RFID. Just like in Singapore where one card can be used as payment for gasoline stations, parking, toll gates and others. But to realize all these benefits of the system, the first step is all vehicles must be tagged," says Dizon, stressing the government can't maximize the system if vehicles are untagged.

He says a good example on how RFID system can be used for traffic management in Metro Manila is to put readers in the entry and exit points of the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), probably the most major and congested highway in Luzon.

Dizon notes that the problem today with colorum vehicles is that the franchising system is still manual and paper-based. There are two common problems that exist with such a system -- income lost by PUV drivers, and bribery practiced by some law enforcers or more commonly known as "kotong."

"There are income losses by some PUV drivers because illegal or colorum vehicles are technically stealing their passengers," Dizon says. "Bribery, however, mostly happens when a jeepney driver is flagged down by a law enforcer to check its franchise and would say it is fake though it isn't. To avoid conflict, the jeepney driver would just give money."

Dizon says to address the two common problems with colorum and bribes, there is a need to have a tamper-proof, accurate, permanent, and electronic way of identifying vehicles.

"The RFID tag will contain information details about PUVs, including the franchise and the route. Other options considered are the usage of smart plate or E-plate, but the advantage of RFID is that it can't be moved from one car to another," he says, adding if the sticker is taken out, the microchip would automatically be damaged, a feature that makes the system tamper-proof.


When LTO announced its planned implementation of the RFID project in October, various public sectors opposed the project claiming that the system would spy on vehicle owners. There were also allegations of overpricing and irregularities.


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