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Our View: Traffic cameras join list of smart tech not operated smartly

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

It’s been 27 days since the official rollout of the new system of traffic cameras and apparently as it turns out, no fines have yet been issued due to administrative and procedural setbacks and poor communication between government departments.

Well, there’s a surprise. According to reports, even though the cameras are recording around 800 violations a day, one department may have the public’s information stored in Greek, another in English and another in a mix of both, making it difficult to confirm a person’s place of residence and issue a fine.

Another problem that came up was that the process to issue a fine required many checks and involved numerous steps as some fines refer to multiple different violations that alter the amount of the fine and the number of points to be deducted from a person’s licence.

Was none of this foreseen in the planning stage? Did it not come up during the two-month long grace period? Could it not have been resolved in almost a month since the official rollout?

Fifteen years since the very first traffic cams fiasco, millions spent, a grace period during the pilot rollout last October, followed by an extension of the grace period by another month until the end of the year, were still not enough to get it right?

It doesn’t matter that they say the problems will be fixed within the coming days. It should not have happened this time around given the lessons of the past.

But poor planning, a lack of preparedness and abysmal communication between ministries and departments are a hallmark of the state’s bureaucracy in general, which we’ve seen time and again.

Most recently it was that ridiculous situation where the CovPass database, which holds SafePass data, was not connected to the health ministry’s Covid status database until last week after the problem became apparent which meant infected individuals were circulating freely.

Up until now, the systems were not linked, meaning that a valid SafePass would still work, even if the holder had tested positive – potentially enabling many active cases to break their self-isolation early and visit restaurants and shops. Again, it seems no one thought it through at the start. Communication between these two government systems was not even in place.

Another example is the rush to hand out grants for electric vehicles from bicycles to cars, again without having the correct infrastructure to ensure these options can be working solutions to transport problems and are not there just for show so that we can be seen to be ‘doing the right thing’.

The government needs to spend less time bragging about our wonderful state-of-the art technologies and grand plans for the fourth industrial revolution and spend more time ensuring these technologies actually work the way they’re supposed to.

It doesn’t matter how ‘smart’ the technology is if it’s not operated in a smart manner. A traffic cam system, used successfully in many other countries for decades, should have been a no brainer.

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