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RFID Automates Payments at Regina's Snow Dump

The Canadian city's system depends on UHF RFID tags and readers to identify arriving trucks, authorize their admittance and automatically bill customers.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 19, 2016

The Canadian city of Regina is using radio frequency identification technology to automatically bill companies that dispose of snow at its municipal snow storage facility. With the system, the city provides RFID stickers that can be attached to truck windshields so that RFID readers can identify each time a vehicle arrives to dump a load, enabling the city to bill the owner accordingly.

The solution was provided by the city's security and access-control technology vendor, Reliable Security and Controls, says Norman Kyle, Regina's director of roadways and transportation.

When a truck comes within range of the Times-7 reader antenna suspended overhead, a Feig Electronics reader captures the unique ID number encoded to its windshield tag. A traffic light installed beside the reader then turns green, signaling the driver to proceed.
Regina typically receives approximately 40 inches of snow annually. After a heavy snowfall, companies (usually private contractors) remove any snow that may be obstructing businesses, parking areas and private roads, then transport it to Regina's snow storage facility, located on the city's east side. Until the impending 2016-2017 winter season, companies that clear snow in Regina have been able to dump their snow at the storage site free of charge.

Norman Kyle, Regina's director of roadways and transportation
The city changed its rules this year, however, based on the cost of running the facility and on recommendations from the city's official community plan, Design Regina. The expenses include the moving of snow as it piles up at the facility, the maintenance of proper drainage as the snow melts, the disposal of trash that remains once the accumulated snow has completely disappeared, and the cost of maintaining the 140-acre property itself. During a typical winter, a total of 30,000 loads of snow are hauled into the storage site.

However, Kyle says, collecting the appropriate payments from each customer proved challenging. The city did not want to add expenses related to staffing the gate 24 hours a day, so it needed to find a way to automatically identify trucks and their size, provide them with site access and bill the owners accordingly. "We got the idea [for an RFID system] from toll booths," Kyle recalls, citing, as an example, the E-Z Pass system used in the United States to access vehicle account information and enable drivers to pay for road and bridge tolls.

The city sought a system that would be easy for drivers to use, so that they would not need to come to a full stop upon arriving at the lot. The resulting solution that Reliable supplied uses RFID hardware from RFID Canada, as well as software provided by Lenel to manage the collected RFID read data. RFID Canada supplied the adhesive tamper-proof RFID labels (made with Confidex RFID tags) that are attached to the passenger side of each truck's windshield.

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