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Cellphones Crime Security Technology

Thieves in South Africa Hit Traffic Lights For SIM Cards 181

arisvega writes "Some 400 high-tech South African traffic lights are out of action after thieves in Johannesburg stole the mobile phone SIM cards they contain. JRA (Johannesburg Road Agency) said it is investigating the possibility of an 'inside job' after only the SIM card-fitted traffic lights were targeted. The cards were fitted to notify JRA when the traffic lights were faulty. 'We have 2,000 major intersections in Johannesburg and only 600 of those were fitted with the cards,' the agency's spokesperson Thulani Makhubela told the BBC. 'No-one apart from JRA and our supplier knows which intersections have that system.' The thieves ran up bills amounting to thousands of dollars by using the stolen cards to make calls."
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Thieves in South Africa Hit Traffic Lights For SIM Cards

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  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @08:40PM (#34809780)

    in the us the data link is more then just fault alert lights are linked to each other some of same Controllers are used on ramp meters , lane control systems and more as well passing data on traffic levels.

    any ways us data costs are high like $.01/KB, 1 MB - $4.99, 100 MB $19.99/mo or $35.00 for 200meg and then $0.10 per meg and that's the per line costs.

  • Re:PIN numbers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Flytrap ( 939609 ) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @10:44PM (#34810758)
    This was negligance on the part of the JRA... I have just rolled out over 8000 point of sale machines fitted with SIM cards... and during planning questions around "... what happens whens should the retailers staff start to pull the SIM cards out every night to make private calls..."

    There are two options... and we are using both:
    1) a. get the network to turn off voice capability so that the cards are data only
    1) b. limit the data bill to R20 (about US$3) per month (which we calculated would be adequate for most transaction volumes)
    2) migrate the SIM base to a private APN so that the SIMs become point to point VPN data SIMs (i.e. can only connect to our servers)

    In the case of the JRA, the traffic lights had to be vandalised to get to the SIMs... so the cost to the city is going to be a lot more than just simply replacing the SIMs. In our case we did not care because we did not think that staff would vandalise their own terminals (it would be known who did it) and we deliberatly spread the word that the SIMs are useless for anything but what they were intended for because they were locked down to our private APN.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:04AM (#34811300)

    Why are you asking a traffic light manufacturer dude? No doubt he does know a thing or two about traffic in general, but you'd really want to talk to a (city) traffic engineer. These are the people who actually work out the signaling for given areas taking into account other areas, major highways, the time of day, behavior during rush hour, etc.

    Why can't a scalable traffic system be designed and built with smart traffic lights that actually see and react to traffic?

    These do exist - but often a pre-programmed format works out better. Take for example an intersection of a busy through road and a residential road. On the residential road is you and your wife who just got married and you've got 20 other cars trailing you. The 'smart' signaling system sees the 10 cars and decides to give you more time at the intersection.. instead of letting ~8 cars pass, it's going to let you and the other 20 cars through. But now you've halted traffic on the through road for so long that the traffic light a block further back is already green again and cars are backing up into that intersection.

    Why can't an intersection be aware enough to see you approach the empty intersection and smart enough to give you a green light before you arrive?

    These also exist. There's tons of those where I live - there's just an induction loop in the road some hundred yards or so from the traffic lights. Now you might say "well 100 yards isn't enough if I'm cruising along at 35mph" - but keep in mind that just as -you- would like to see the traffic light magically change to green when it should 'know' the intersection is clear, there might be somebody in another car from a side direction thinking the exact same thing. So when you think the traffic signal is 'smart' and will give you a green by the time you hit the intersection, so will that person. That's a Bad Thing. That's why the loops are closer to the intersection here.. to make even drivers who are familiar with these intersections and 'know' they will get a green slow down enough to get a good overview of the intersection and be able to stop well in time just in case they do -not- get that green because somebody else did.

    It's 2011 and we need smarter drivers more than we need smarter traffic lights :)

    That said, there's certainly intersections that are on a completely fixed interval, going through 4 or even 7 directions in a cycle, and in the middle of the night you just have to wait and wait and wait wondering just who the heck the other directions' traffic lights are on green for. Just know that this is not for a lack of technology and capability - it's typically for a lack of the municipality/state/whoever wanting to pay.

  • by daid303 ( 843777 ) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:27AM (#34814520)

    The antennas we use on our traffic lights look like this: []

    So it's just a black circle on top. Unless you know what you are looking for, nobody would expect this to be an antenna.

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