You Shall Not Pass… unless you pay
So last month I was in field operation to install an “intelligent highway surveillance” system somewhere in the west of Turkey.
Well by intelligent I mean it relies on computer vision and deep learning stuff to process video feeds coming from distributed cameras along the road, and make a decision if an abnormality is taking place or not.
The defined abnormality could be (stopped vehicle, human being on the road, slowing vehicle, any abandoned object… and maybe someone eating pizza with pineapples!)
The thing to mention was; to enter this highway, you have to pay. The highway is owned by a company so it is considered as private property, you pay for using it
Wait, WHUT! Will I pay for using a road?! like why! why did the government rent/sell the road to someone! Can I have a road as a birthday gift :D? This idea may seem familiar and popular in several countries around the globe. It goes back 200 years ago from the date I am writing this post! Not new at all! Money collection may be dependent or independent from the distance you have passed. Some roads have fixed rates with one-time payment at the entrance. While others have tolls at the entrance and exits, that tracks from where to where you have passed and charge you accordingly. In today’s technology advancements, you do not have to get off your vehicle in order to pay. You fix a magnetic card in your car, fill it with money and drive through (Maybe inspired by McDonald’s drive-through :p). Looking at the matter from a business point of view, a private company can deliver better and safer roads, better maintenance, and a higher response rate for any issue that could occur on the road (Surveillance systems). While a government organization could get stuck in bureaucracy procedure to fix a bump -maybe!
Although the idea of paying to pass through a safe, non-congested road seems cool in today's crowded life. But that does not mean criticism does not exist against it:
What could prevent governments from building high quality and safe roads all the time? Why would they choose such alternative?
If It is allowed to sell/rent roads for private companies, isn’t it possible to monopolize what used to be for the public?
How far does privatizing public services will go? How would it affect our future as humanity? What would be the structure of future states?
This century can be considered as the century of no more privacy… your ISP, mobile service provider, google account, Facebook …etc, have a good track about your behavior day and night. OK, add to them several new private companies tracking from where / to where you go.
How much does it differ from renting pass-through service from a militia in a non-safe country? You pay them to let you pass safely in a land controlled by them. What differs here? the use of technology? What moral values does that bring?
Lets go so far, if governments gave most of their roads for private companies who can deliver better service. We would have to pay for each and every road segment we pass. Are we going to pay each morning we pass or we would have a subscription plan for “road utilization”- with a combo box and extra cheese!
On the other hand, this idea’s existence can be defended by — not limited to:
Government does not have to own the property. Its job is to manage that property. So taking a load to the private sector enables the government to focus on other issues instead of putting much effort on infrastructure development
Private companies treat the roads as a business. So they do their best to make the driver passing satisfied as possible with their service quality
Private roads reduce the number of congestions and bottlenecks, they achieve better flow in/around the cities. Less congestion -> Less fuel consumption -> benefit the environment and traffic sustainability!
The most important is: private roads create new business models, new jobs and positions, new markets to compete for
Concerning singularity and monopolies, governments can set up regulations to limit the potential of monopolization up to some point. For sure such regulation will be re-iterated over and revised until it get mature enough to protect the market values.
In conclusion, everything is changing, we cannot keep on going while sticking to the past ideologies and the way we used to live. Although the idea of private roads can face criticism. However, it delivers several benefits! let us see and hope for a better future.
Wood, R. W. (August 1906). "Fish-Eye Views, and Vision under Water" (PDF). The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science. 6. XII (LXVIII): 159–161
Hill, R. (1924). A lens for whole sky photographs. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 50(211), 227-235.
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I write about ethical concerns, about humanity from different perspectives in this chaotic world