Policy Brief: Preserving Privacy in Road User Charge (RUC) Architectures

Authors: Alexandre Bayen, PhD, Teddy Forscher, and Susan Shaheen, PhD


Abstract: One of the major concerns for the technical implementation of a RUC is the ability to collect the mileage of motorists in a way that preserves and protects individual privacy. With the widespread use of connected devices/smartphones and the growth of connected vehicles and the existence of toll tag readers, it is possible to build and deploy architectures capable of computing advanced fee structures (based upon on mileage, road type, time of day, and speed, among other features) that respect motorist privacy. A possible architecture can rely on the use of virtual trip lines (VTLs) – a technology that dates back to 2007, when the first privacy aware traffic collection apps for smartphones emerged [1]. VTLs are virtual landmarks deployed at specific locations of the transportation network at which charges need to be applied. They can be imagined as virtual screen lines capable of counting cars or motorists (via smartphones, connected devices, or connected vehicles) as they pass, using the underlying mapping system of the connected device. Based on this detection, the connected device can compute a fee onboard, based on the features of the VTLs. This technology has been demonstrated to be privacy preserving and does not require the system to keep track of vehicle location, only the fees incurred.

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Posted on

March 1, 2018