back to article Sydney adopts 'world's first' e-ink parking signs

The Australian city of Sydney has adopted e-ink-equipped parking signs. Slovenian vendor Visionect says the State of New South Wales' Road and Maritime Services (RMS) agency has adopted its digital signage to ease the chore of changing signs to reflect coming events. As Vulture South well knows, Sydney's sclerotic roads …

  1. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Next micro business, some kid with Photoshop charging 20 bucks to change the times on the sign for your fine protest letter.

  2. Nick Leaton

    I can see the defense.

    The council changed the signs after I parked.

    Case dismissed.

    1. hitmouse

      Sydney Council has already done that with the old signs - they put up event signs after I'd parked, and then fined me.

      The NSW State Recovery Office is an unassailable pit from whence fine notices are issued and no discussions may be entered into. My solicitor thinks its appalling - the only way to contest is in court, usually meaning you lose more in wages missed than in erroneous fine monies recovered.

    2. BenR

      I had the exact same thought. How one defends against that I have no idea. Similarly, I have no idea how one can enforce.

      I presume logging of commands to change the signage somewhere to prove / disprove that a change in the displayed message took place?

  3. P. Lee Silver badge

    Fantastic!

    And how, pray tell, will the signs be updated? Will there be an open network port listening for a connection?

    I look forward to the free parking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fantastic!

      Probably a wireless wide area network. So you'll need to know the APN and authentication credentials.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: Fantastic!

        "So you'll need to know the APN and authentication credentials."

        Security? By what is effectively just another government department? Yeah sure.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fantastic!

        Or just a WiFi-Pineapple...

      3. Benno

        Re: Fantastic!

        And have a SIM that will authenticate against that APN.

    2. Bob H

      Re: Fantastic!

      The article says they are "equipped with mobile broadband", I'm a little surprised at this, I would have thought that zigbee/z-wave or similar would have been lower power or even better some kind of MW carrier because the data requirement is low and the update periods are probably very long.

      Who knows, perhaps they update them via SMS!?

      1. Stuart Castle

        Re: Fantastic!

        "The article says they are "equipped with mobile broadband", I'm a little surprised at this, I would have thought that zigbee/z-wave or similar would have been lower power or even better some kind of MW carrier because the data requirement is low and the update periods are probably very long.

        "

        The advantage, from a cost point of view, of mobile broadband (or even SMS which doesn't need broadband and would probably suffice) is that it's cheaper to install as the infrastructure is probably already there.

        This, I believe, is why the "next bus" displays in London (which TFL call Countdown) use existing mobile networks rather than zigbee or z-wave. if they'd have gone for Zigbee, z-wave or MW, they'd have to maintain their own infrastructure and, in the case of MW, there may be licencing hurdles to get over. By using the mobile networks, they've bypassed all that as the operator has already installed the infrastructure and already has licences for the frequencies their network uses.

        And, would the power savings be that great? Bearing in mind that a simple mobile phone (ie not smart) can run for several days on a small battery, the current used to connect a digital sign to a broadband network is likely to be a fraction of the current required to run the sign (or even light it at night).

    3. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: Fantastic!

      OMG! Not at all secure like the present system, where some random dude just puts a bag over the parking signs and places a few traffic-management signs on the road.

  4. LaeMing Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see a governnment department using technology in a proactive manner. Using in-house engineering too, rather than out-sourcing to a dollar-drain.

    They better watch it though. This is exactly the sort of forward-thinking technological innovation the feds are trying to stamp out here.

    1. hitmouse

      Except they would never use it in a forward thinking manner to divert traffic at major junctions before a blockage. No - let traffic accumulate into gridlock at the point of failure.

  5. Gary F

    In bright Australian sunshine?

    I wonder how easy the signs are to read in bright Australian sunshine? Glare, reflection and poor contrast may cause problems when compared to conventional electronic or printed road signs.

    1. PleebSmash
      Childcatcher

      Re: In bright Australian sunshine?

      Readability in sunshine is one of the major benefits of e-ink. They will probably have a coating that reduces readability, but the technologies involved have advanced since Kindle 1.

      But seriously, who will be the first to hack these?

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Even though the picture is either well out of date or taken during some sort of testing, this could be useful and on the surface seems a great idea.

    But the "ifs" apply.. If they don't ticket you if you're parked there when the sign changes. If they give everyone a heads up that the signs are going to change. If these things have some excellent security. If.. if.... if.... from the comments by those who live there, this may very well turn out to be a nightmare.

  7. msknight Silver badge

    Disconenction

    The more I look at stuff like this, the more I believe we've missed the opportunity to move forward.

    I mean, making signs and things reactionary is great; but what about the sat nav on my dash that doesn't know about this event.

    OK, so that requires centralisation, and thereby the big question of who owns it and how is it funded ... but that, I think, is becoming an ever more urgent nut to crack before we can really benefit from all this; because otherwise we've got all these things working in isolation.

    1. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: Disconenction

      I was thinking about different type disconnection - wait until parking is free, cut power cable to solar, presto, free parking until fixed. Rinse and repeat.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Disconenction

      but what about the sat nav on my dash that doesn't know about this event.

      Maybe you should think about getting one that understands TMS so it does know about this sort of thing?

      Then of course there's the whole "connected car" thing on the way...... which seems to have a massive trailerload of FAIL in tow so it's probably best to stick with the working stuff we have now.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE. Re: Disconenction

    Or just hack the signs, to display something hilarious like goatse or "Zombies Ahead!" then lock out the password(s) so it can't be changed.

    AC, because this is Aus, aka the land of $5000 fines for owning a 1mW LED so $Deity knows what they do to hackers.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    The joker in the pack is update security.

    As always.

  10. Chris Evans

    Dark or faulty?

    "When there's no event on the horizon, the screens simply go dark."

    As there is no cost monetary or energy wise surely something like "No event. Standard parking rules apply" should be used!

  11. TheOtherMe

    Great use of language

    "sclerotic" - a very apt word for describing the appalling road conditions that are Sydney.

    And from now on when one parks, get out and take time-stamped photo of proximal appropriate sign before leaving the area - avoiding the potential: "but it changed after I parked" - "Oh yeah, prove it" argument that will ensue.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Put an arm on it

    Then they could call them: Parking Pokies

    You takes ya chances...

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