FasTrack (wireless highway toll-takers) that are not creepy? Yes, possible.

In the old days, paying a highway toll meant I paid with cash often a tossing a quarter in a basket or smiling at a toll-taker and handing over a dollar. But now I get to speed through.

To do this, do I really need to have my license plate photographed? Do I need to hide my FasTrak in a conductive bag to keep from getting tracked other places on the highway without my permission? Do I need to have my every bridge crossing be logged into a database somewhere?

As a thought experiment: how do we high toll takers that are automated but not privacy invasive?   If we can figure this out, can we go on to make it happen?

Features I want, and maybe all of us want:

  1. Speed through toll booths and paying the right toll
  2. Able to deal with cars that have a device and ones don’t
  3. Easy to refill the device with money as needed
  4. Not be tracked any more than dropping a quarter in a basket (not creepy)

Goal 2 means that if the toll does not detect the car’s device, then we need to track it somehow and bill the owner. Currently this is done by photographing the license plate and sending a bill.  I do not have a way around this, do you

But if the car has a transponder then the car can put out a signal to pay the toll. I think with crypto-currencies, especially zcash, we have all the technology we need.

Basically the device would hold a key to the money I had transferred to it. Then the device would recieve and transmit a bunch of numbers to the toll as it was passing through, just as the current FasTrak does, but instead of saying the account number in the FasTrak, it would offer to pay the required toll by transferring the money into the government’s account. This could be done quickly, inexpensively, securely, and privately– all with technology that is currently here and open source.

Does this do the trick?

We need a low transaction cost billing system because tolls are low so the fee should be a small percentage of the toll. Currently it is 3% to 5% cost because of the visa card transaction to refill my FasTrack account. Bitcoin is often 7 cents per transaction, and zcash is much less than a penny. So current Bitcoin would work, but other systems are a better fit for this. But this works: check.

If the toll booth could detect if the payment was good and valid quickly enough then it would not need to take a picture in those cases. If the transaction is too slow for this (like current bitcoin), then the picture might have to be taken, but can be deleted when the transaction is complete, say in 30 minutes.

In terms of putting money into the account, this can be done from dollars, or credit cards, or crypto in any of a large number of proven wallets and websites. So that seems easy.

So cryptocurrency, bitcoin, etherium, or zcash can make a highway toll-takers more efficient than they are now.

Wouldn’t it be great if an early widespread use of crypto was to make our highways more efficient and less creepy?

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1 Response to FasTrack (wireless highway toll-takers) that are not creepy? Yes, possible.

  1. Mitra Ardron says:

    You could do this without a potentially slow crypto step at the toll booth, by having the top up transaction be the anonymous one. For example , with cash, I walk into a convenience store, pick up a unit, pay cash, the merchant has a way to register that transaction to the device (e.g. an OCR code on the Fasttrak, and an app on their phone tied to their account with Fasttrak). Online it could be done with crypto – send crypto to the bitcoin address of the Fasttrak unit. In both these cases the fastrak would get units sent to it encrypted with Fasttrak’s key. The toll system just has to check for double spend among itself which is going to be much quicker than going through a mining process.

    BUT … I think this has been easy to build since Fastrak started, they could have had anonymously purchased units even before crypto, but it was obviously intended to be part of law enforcement from the start and designed that way from the start.

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