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Speed Camera Lottery
January 24, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

The Speed Camera Lottery is winning idea of Volkswagen's Fun Theory Award (article, video, official site, previously)
posted by AceRock (23 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes. This is a great concept, and has its roots in developmental psychology. It's been known for awhile now that negative reinforcement and punishment (which are two different things, but I'm on my phone so no link for you) are not effective behavioral tools on their own. Without positive reinforcement, there is no incentive, only disincentive.

see also: management strategies, carrot and stick (carrot optional)
posted by Eideteker at 1:30 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The lone driver; The winner, as they called her, was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the other scofflaws moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Volkswagen was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Kevin Richardson was in the front of the crowd of Stockholm residents, with his award beside him.

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," the driver screamed, and then they were upon her.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:33 PM on January 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


cool; but, they know this isn't actually "fun", right?
posted by milestogo at 1:37 PM on January 24, 2011


How does this compare to normal speed cameras that only assess fines? I would think that a known very high chance of being caught and fined would be more incentive not to break the speed limit than an unknown but likely small chance to win a prize.
posted by ghharr at 1:39 PM on January 24, 2011


Hehe... I see what you did there, Debaser626.

I wonder what sort of additional behavior this might encourage... would people continue to roll through the street several times, hoping to rack up more entries? (Even if you warned them that there would only be one entry per period, but that the entry would be voided if they sped?)

I think the biggest issue would be education and communication. I suppose you could just change the street sign to reflect "Speed Camera Lottery Enforced: Win up to $1,000 by driving the limit!" instead of the "Photo Enforcement Ahead" signs we have planted all throughout the Phoenix area... enough news coverage and an update on MVD registration forms would probably be enough to work...

The bigger issue is that you'd have increased costs associated with processing each of the potential entries. You'd have to store the plate for every single vehicle that passes through an intersection at speed: this is a LOT of data, and dramatically more than the system would be built for otherwise. One intersection might not be a big deal, and you could discard the data every drawing, but still, that's a LOT of license plates to grab.

Not to mention a lot of flashes. Here in AZ, the flash goes off even during the day, to help get a reading on the plate. There might be enough ambient light during the middle of the day to grab it otherwise. I wonder if you'd simply index every single image, and pick an IMAGE at random, before researching the plate in the image... I think that'd probably bet he most efficient way, save the fact that you're storing an image for every unique series of cars... but I don't think the systems OCR the plates right now, though they should. If they did, you could just OCR the plates of every image that goes through and store the registered owner's name/ID number and pick a winner from THAT list...


posted by disillusioned at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2011


ghharr, I think this does both. The fines collected from the folks breaking the speed limit contribute to the pot the lottery winner gets.
posted by AceRock at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2011


ghharr, I think this does both. The fines collected from the folks breaking the speed limit contribute to the pot the lottery winner gets.

Right, I get that, but what I question is whether people who are slowing down are more motivated by "yay! win money!" or "oh fuck! speed camera!".
posted by ghharr at 1:48 PM on January 24, 2011


The net effect of this is a tax cut with a wealth redistribution twist. Fines used to go from a pool of civilians we can call "bad drivers" to the city or police department. In this scheme, the fines from "bad drivers" now go to a pool of civilians we can call "good drivers".
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The bigger issue is that you'd have increased costs associated with processing each of the potential entries. You'd have to store the plate for every single vehicle that passes through an intersection at speed: this is a LOT of data, and dramatically more than the system would be built for otherwise. One intersection might not be a big deal, and you could discard the data every drawing, but still, that's a LOT of license plates to grab.

Couldn't you just set it up to take one set of pictures at a "random" time?
posted by zennie at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011


Interesting idea, probably psychologically sound in its theory, etc.

If only traffic cameras didn't strike me as offensive overextension of police powers, I could get behind the idea.
posted by hippybear at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2011


Couldn't you just set it up to take one set of pictures at a "random" time?

That's a good idea. Just designate every 10,000 car (or however often) a winner, and as long as they're not speeding, take a photo and send them their award. Wouldn't be much more data overhead than it's already processing.
posted by echo target at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


disillusioned: The bigger issue is that you'd have increased costs associated with processing each of the potential entries.

Or make it easy, and only monitor certain hours of the day, telling no one that the lottery is only active part of the day, while the ticketing system is always active. Keep the flashes going, but only record entries for one hour each day, changing the hours, and award a winner at random from the pool of potential winners.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2011


Use it to select new citizens for the doge city council every year.
posted by Babblesort at 2:32 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not that much data. Let's say you need 50KB per car, period, and you have a very busy intersection with 50,000 cars per day. That's only 305 megabytes, or 9 gigs per month. You're going to have much tougher issues dealing with lighting, since you don't want a flash going off for every car that goes by, and paying for the electricity of the light is a hell of a lot more expensive than 9GB of storage per month.

Even so, the thing would be to have it randomize the time, day or night, and then capture the next car that obeys the limit, and use the flash to catch it if it was at night. As long as the cash prizes are low, it won't be worth it for someone to try and game the system.
posted by notion at 2:33 PM on January 24, 2011


Eideteker: “Yes. This is a great concept, and has its roots in developmental psychology. It's been known for awhile now that negative reinforcement and punishment (which are two different things, but I'm on my phone so no link for you) are not effective behavioral tools on their own. Without positive reinforcement, there is no incentive, only disincentive.”

It seems like a more comprehensive approach would be a good idea. That is: it seems as though it might be a good idea to spend more time emphasizing the positive aspects of civic virtue and allegiance to law and order. I get the impression that our society is spectacularly bad at giving that emphasis; at least I've very rarely seen it. Maybe we should learn it from someone else.
posted by koeselitz at 2:40 PM on January 24, 2011


ghharr, I think this does both. The fines collected from the folks breaking the speed limit contribute to the pot the lottery winner gets.
I think all fines of this type should be redistributed this way. It would prevent cities from putting up cameras simply to rake in more revenue, in fact excessive redlight cameras have actually caused more accidents when drivers slam on their breaks to avoid a ticket (and in fact some cities have reduced yellow light times when putting up cameras)
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think all fines of this type should be redistributed this way. It would prevent cities from putting up cameras simply to rake in more revenue, in fact excessive redlight cameras have actually caused more accidents when drivers slam on their breaks to avoid a ticket (and in fact some cities have reduced yellow light times when putting up cameras)

Let's not forget about how many of the companies making and installing the red light cameras are doing so as part of some kind of twisted public/private enterprise, meaning that the more red light tickets which are issued, the more money the company makes. For a system which should be used as legal enforcement, putting private profit into the mix will only lead to a broader net catching more fish than should be caught for the sake of the corporate pocketbook.
posted by hippybear at 2:48 PM on January 24, 2011


So the end result being No one speeds. And then the winner gets what? One SEK!

Awesome. Why not speed?
posted by CarlRossi at 3:30 PM on January 24, 2011


is it a coincidence that this Fun Theory was implemented in Stockholm, just as the previous post about the piano keys to the subway? Is the innovator implementing only in Sweden (although the idea in this post was submitted from the USA) or is this a coincidence? Why Sweden??
posted by seawallrunner at 3:52 PM on January 24, 2011


nevermind, I just read the article :-/
posted by seawallrunner at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2011


Right, I get that, but what I question is whether people who are slowing down are more motivated by "yay! win money!" or "oh fuck! speed camera!".

Where I live we already have tons of speed cameras. We also have tons of speeders, and tons of fines levied, and tons of self-serving justifications made about how cameras are simply a revenue-raising exercise (hint to these people: avoiding these fines IS within your power). I think this system would work very well with existing infrastructure, so the distinction between fear-driven and reward-driven compliance is essentially moot.
posted by pompomtom at 5:36 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Newer camera systems that take pictures of every passing car, such as average speed cameras and such as, work in IR-frequencies so the flash is not needed or at least is not visible so flash would not be problem.

Awesome. Why not speed?

Because you would still get fined.

The real problem is of course that this is a massive data-base of number plates of passing cars which is kind of a huge privacy issue.
posted by Authorized User at 11:51 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Gulliver's Travels, one of the aspects of Lilliput life that most intrigues Gulliver is that the citizens are rewarded for not breaking the law over x consecutive months, as well as punished for breaking it.

There are lots of practical problems with the Speed Camera idea, but it's a fun video.
posted by DanCall at 1:32 AM on January 25, 2011


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