Sightings of new AI traffic cameras that resemble the ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) system in the UK have been reported in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. The ULEZ cameras in the UK, managed by the City of London Corporation and Mayor Sadiq Khan, fine non-electric or older vehicles AUD$24 a day in certain zones and times. The cameras have sparked a backlash among protestors known as “blade runners,” who have attacked and disabled around 600 cameras. Images shared on Facebook by Aussie Speeding Fines revealed a shipment of cameras labeled “Sensor Traffic AI,” which were linked to Sensor Dynamics Portable Traffic Detection System. These cameras, which utilize renewable energy sources and various types of communication, provide data on license plates, vehicle classification, speed, weight, bridge monitoring, and lane compliance. Similar ULEZ-type cameras have been installed along the Kwinana freeway in Perth.
The introduction of London’s ULEZ system has coincided with the increased presence of environmental protest groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion. These groups aim to combat climate change and believe that the use of fossil fuels will lead to the collapse of the global ecosystem. Just Stop Oil, similar to previous eco-terrorist movements, advocates for the complete elimination of fossil fuel use. However, many argue that the current economy relies heavily on hydrocarbon energy for transportation and efficient movement of goods.
The Guardian newspaper criticizes the support from some British Conservative Party members for the destruction of ULEZ cameras. Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith and new MP Steve Tuckwell have shown solidarity with the blade runners and have openly voiced their concerns about Mayor Sadiq Khan’s approach. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee expressed her frustration with the destruction of the cameras, stating that over 600 out of the necessary 3,000 have already been destroyed. She also highlights the alleged health hazards caused by London’s air pollution, and the relief felt by a parent whose child had supposedly died from air pollution.
However, some Londoners argue that the ULEZ cameras are simply a money-making scheme. Diesel vehicles already pay extra road tax, and the ULEZ zone has expanded to cover the M25 Orbital motorway. Critics claim that the expansion of the zone and the use of cameras resemble supermarket scanners, treating vehicles as mere commodities. Toynbee adds that only one in 10 vehicles is affected by the ULEZ notices, with scrappage grants available to most people. Additionally, claims have been made about reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels along roads in inner and central London.
In conclusion, the emergence of AI traffic cameras resembling the UK’s ULEZ system has caused controversy in Australia. The presence of these cameras has fueled a backlash among protestors, while others criticize them as a means for revenue generation. The debate surrounding the environmental impact of vehicles and the implementation of measures to reduce air pollution remains a contentious issue. London’s ULEZ system and the actions of blade runners have exposed the differing opinions on these matters and the challenges faced by authorities in finding a balance between revenue generation and environmental protection.