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Privacy Businesses Security Transportation

Shopping Mall SMS Parking Notifications Could Be Used To Track Any Car (itnews.com.au) 42

Bismillah writes: Westfield's Scentre Group has removed SMS notifications for its ticketless parking system after it was discovered they could be used to track other people's cars unnoticed. The system allows you to enter any licence plate, which in turn will be scanned upon entry and exit at mall parking facilities — and when the free parking time is up, a notification message is sent to the mobile phone number entered, with the exact location of the car.
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Shopping Mall SMS Parking Notifications Could Be Used To Track Any Car

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @03:58AM (#51428301)

    For a place where you have to pay for parking, it makes sense to send SMS notifications indicating where you parked (upon request) and when you leave the garage. The part about where you parked could help people find their car if they don't remember where they parked (there's a Seinfeld episode about this). I'd recommend charging a fee for the service and requiring people to use their phone at a terminal (NFC or something similar) to discourage abuse while making a bit of money in the process. Another option and layer of security is to require them to take a ticket upon entering the garage, at which point the license plate is scanned. The ticket contains a unique ID that must be entered to activate the service, and can only be associated with that license plate.

    It really doesn't make a lot of sense to send SMS notifications upon entering or leaving the garage for a mall, nor does it make sense to have non-free parking. If I have to pay to park at a mall, I'm likely to spend less time inside browsing items I might by and therefore spend less money. It's a bad business move and really doesn't make sense. The model could work where paid parking makes more sense, as long as a credit card and a unique ID given on entry that is only valid for that license plate number is used.

    By the way, can we please ban the "how very Republican" spam going on above by the same AC who's been doing this same shit just about every night? At least please mod him into oblivion.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > If I have to pay to park at a mall, I'm likely to spend less time inside browsing items I might by and therefore spend less money. It's a bad business move and really doesn't make sense.

      Depends on the location of the mall. Here in Barcelona several malls offer 2 to 3 hours of free parking; if they were free all day long the garages would be full of commuters' cars, leaving no parking for actual shoppers. The only mall offering completely free parking is at the very edge of the city, still too far out

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If I have to pay to park at a mall, I'm likely to spend less time inside

      Unfortunately we don't have much choice in many Australian suburbs.
      Public transport is often crap, and street parking is congested and even more expensive than shopping centre (mall) parking!

      All levels of our governments (local, state, federal) are lapping-up the benefits of increased population density, expecting the ill-effects to be borne by future political parties. (Gotta love democracy.)
      - local governments: approvin

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:13AM (#51429833)

      " If I have to pay to park at a mall, I'm likely to spend less time inside browsing items I might by and therefore spend less money. It's a bad business move and really doesn't make sense."

      Malls grew in the US precisely so that shoppers could avoid the paid-parking trap in the old downtowns. But the whole situation in Europe is different: compact, high-density cities that have lush public transit systems, making cars an option, not a necessity. If you can take a subway to the basement of the mall, why drive in the city? And for those times when you buy something big or exceptionally valuable, there are delivery services. Meanwhile the mall is built in much more expensive land than in an American suburb, meaning no vast surrounding acreage of parking lots. Parking is typically in a garage under the mall itself.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      If I have to pay to park at a mall, I'm likely to spend less time inside browsing items I might by and therefore spend less money.

      The business owners at the mall appreciate you for quickly making a parking space available for another paying customer.

  • Excellent idea! An RFID tag on your vehicle (motor or pedaled) links it with whatever phone number you register it to, and then anyone can message you when necessary.

    My bicycle is being constantly tampered with by meth heads in the city, and I think its long overdue that the places I frequent for business should provide this kind of service. Automatically send me a txt when the meth heads are trying to rip parts off it so I can go pepper spray them in the face since the city's law enforcement doesn't ever

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bike thiefs? Don't lock it, just put a compressed truck spring under the seat - to power a bayonet. Remove the safety when you go in for business. Trigger by weight or wheel rotation. With time, the remaining thieves will understand that the blood means "not the bike to steal".

    • My bicycle is being constantly tampered with by meth heads in the city, and I think its long overdue that the places I frequent for business should provide this kind of service.

      If it were cheaper to get text-only cellular service it would be reasonable to add a cellular GPS tracker with a motion sensor for activation to your bike. Sounds to me like what you need is off-street bike parking.

      • Off-street parking? Good luck even finding on-street bicycle racks. Mostly you end up having to lock to parking meters and street sign posts. Compared to Europe the situation is laughably inexcusable.

        I wonder if a motion sensor would work though? It would mean no using dual bike racks or probably even being close to other racks where an adjacent bicyclist is likely to brush against it while locking their bike. In an urban environment that would rule out most racks. It would not be as good as an AI-bas

        • I wonder if a motion sensor would work though?

          Well, you wouldn't alert at the slightest motion. You'd need to do some sort of analysis and figure out what kind of motion would trigger and what wouldn't, or you'd have a bunch of false positives. Me, I've never had a problem. Any time I've actually used a cycle for transportation, I could find somewhere to stow it for long periods... except in jr. high, when the bullies would just trash my bike and leave it there.

          • A better thing would be to have a bait bike setup with secret cameras and touch sensors on easily-ripoffable parts like the lights and seatpost, and maybe GPS tracking devices in the components. Law enforcement have no shortage of cash to blow on all kinds of draconian shit, you would think they would spend a little pocket change to try to catch the rampant bike thieves in the city with something like that. But hell no.

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
              Bike thieves are of no interest to law enforcement. They're stealing bikes, there is no money to be made off of someone that poor, nor to be gained by pleasing those that have bikes they'll leave outside.
  • So they were surprised that their technology to track cars can be used to track cars? Who knew!

    On a less sarcastic note, the problem seems to be that they don't require you to prove you're the owner of the car in order to register it with their system. Therefore, you could register anyone's car and use the malls' systems to track the real owner.

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