Non-contact apprehension technology should apply nationwide | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Non-contact apprehension technology should apply nationwide

/ 09:20 AM August 16, 2022

I find it ridiculous that a lot of “concerned personalities” are getting too noisy against the controversial Non-Contact Apprehension Program (NCAP), a world class Smart City Technology, being implemented in Makati, Pasig, Valenzuela, Manila, Quezon City, Bataan province and Cauayan, Isabela, and by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Some legislators are calling for congressional inquiry on the alleged excessive traffic fines, constitutionality of LGU-PPP ordinances, and questions on “lawful surveillance” and “right to privacy”.

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Confusion worsened after Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Teofilo Guadiz III issued a memorandum cutting off access of LGUs and MMDA to their alarm tagging system “pending development of uniform NCAP guidelines”. On the same day, he recalled his memo and ordered the LTO-IT department to reactivate all LGU accounts. Until this writing, Guadiz’s twin directives remain unclear.

In answer to all public criticism and LTO’s tantrums, Mayors Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Eric Olivarez of Parañaque, Joy Belmonte of QC, Honey Lacuna of Manila, Frances Zamora of San Juan and MMDA chairman Carlo Dimayuga III signed a joint manifesto citing four important points in their NCAP ordinances and their goal of safer cities for their constituents.

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First, NCAP minimizes human intervention in traffic enforcement, thereby eliminating corruption. Second, it instills a culture of discipline among motorists and improves driving behavior; Third, it ensures road safety as it has been proven to be effective in reducing traffic violations and traffic related accidents. And fourth, NCAP affords due process since each LGU and MMDA have their own respective traffic adjudication boards.

Clearly, these mayors are saying that NCAP improved traffic management and discipline in their respective areas and these are supported by data.

From what I know, the MMDA has been successfully implementing its NCAP, for the past TEN (10) years when they started modernizing their traffic signalling system. These advanced traffic camera systems are now widely used in the US, Singapore, Korea , India and Malaysia and other nations.

Parañaque’s NCAP started FIVE (5) years ago in 2017 thru its sophisticated traffic system using cameras with artificial intelligence (AI) and technologies that catch traffic violators day and night. The idea was to enhance motoring discipline and safety, lower traffic violations and reduce corruption or “kotong” on the roads. Data from 2018 to 2022 saw a 73 percent reduction of traffic violations on a per-camera basis.

So, if MMDA’s NCAP remained successful for the past 10 years, and Parañaque for the past five years, why is LTO and the others complaining only now? Many years ago, it was everybody’s clamor that authorities must have overwhelming presence in road intersections and catch all traffic violators. But on the ground, putting human enforcers in these places only increased “kotong operations” and corruption.

With NCAP technology, the unseen “eye in the sky” in every road intersection, strikes fear in the hearts of every motorist. They know that an Artificial Intelligence camera is watching like a hawk and there is no escape. In the Philippines, 63 percent of all road accidents in the country are due to “human error”, according to the 2018 World Health Organization’s Global report on Road crashes. Further research has shown that in less than two months of drivers using roads with NCAP, many adopted and changed the way they drive and become consciously aware of their road conduct. City traffic heads that implement the NCAP technology noted a meager rate of repeat offenders. With these reduction in traffic violations in road intersections, this smart technology saves lives.

Thru its first-world cameras, NCAP captures the conduction sticker or license plates of errant motor vehicles through a photograph, plus a 20-second video recording. Once the system captures a violation, the system generates a Notice of Violation or NOV that includes details, a video grab, and instructions how to resolve the infraction. The system-generated NOV, upon verification and approval by traffic enforcers, will be delivered to the registered owner of the vehicles at his/her address appearing in the LTO database

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In my radio interview, MMDA Task force Special operations chief Bong Nebrija says their NCAP cameras are also being used to identify and quickly respond to accident areas.it is also used to assist in street crime situations , such as carnapping or holdups including backtracking of carnapped vehicles and identifying criminals.

On the issue of excessive fines, specifically, “beating the red light” , ours is way too low and very considerate. We are charging P1,500 only for the first offense. In Greece the same offense would be US$1,094 or P61,000 , in Australia-A$771 (P 29,298) and Denmark US$320 (P17,920).

These past days, we are beginning to notice a sizable improvement in driving behavior of Metro Manila motorists. Something serious and very good are happening in our roads. Many Grab drivers, taxi drivers and PUV drivers/operators tell me that they are more careful now because of NCAP and the heavy fines imposed by the LGU’s ordinances. Even big trucks and buses are well-behaved today. Everybody seems too conscious about speed limits, avoiding swerving or changing lanes and reckless driving. Have you noticed how motorists today respect the pedestrian lane on both national and local roads?

This behavioral change can be attributed directly to NCAP’s “electronic eye” and its “hawkish presence” that are increasing in every road intersection, ever-ready to take photo and video-grab traffic violations by reckless drivers. But for the majority of law-abiding and responsible drivers, we have nothing to fear.

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