7/19/2007Edmonton, Canada Drops Scandal Plagued Camera Vendor
Edmonton, Canada drops the scandal plagued photo enforcement vendor ACS in favor of $10 million in additional profit.
The city council in Edmonton, Canada voted yesterday to drop its relationship with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), the scandal-plagued company that operated the city's speed and red light cameras for profit. The council agreed with the findings of a working group study that surveyed the practices of the Canadian cities that use photo enforcement to calculate whether the most profit could be made if the city operated the system on its own. The city currently uses five photo radar vans and 24 red light cameras to ticket motorists.
"At some point economies of scale make contracting out the provision of equipment and the processing and production of tickets less cost effective than other alternatives," the report stated. "A second disadvantage of the current model is the storage and retention of personal information used in the enforcement process by a third party."
The report incorrectly claims that there have never been allegations that ACS had mishandled sensitive personal information. In 2004, the company abandoned 320 tickets on a park bench in Edmonton, exposing sensitive personal information to anyone passing by who may have noticed the box.
Edmonton will now spend $2.9 million CAD on the hardware and $1 million on the software used to determine guilt. Once this amount is paid off in two to three years, the city will only pay $555,000 in annual operational costs. Existing civil servants who already process ordinary traffic citations would be used to to process automated tickets. As a result, the system would generate an extra $10 million in profit over the current setup by the fifth year.
The existing contract with ACS had proved to be an embarrassment for the city. In 2004, Edmonton had approved a $90 million no-bid contract with ACS that would have lasted until 2024 until an anonymous tip revealed that two police officers had received special travel favors including an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas from the company in return for their support in securing the contract. The officers and ACS still face trial on a number of charges related to the contract deal.
When Edmonton Sun columnist Kerry Diotte wrote about the scandal, criticizing the city's photo radar effort, police officers set up a sting operation on November 18, 2004 to entrap Diotte at the Overtime Bar and arrest him for drunk driving. Diotte had foiled the plan by taking a cab home.
A full copy of the working group report is available in a 72k PDF file at the source link below.