New technology often needs new vocabulary.
Once upon a time the toll booth was it. One day they started to be replaced by coin counters which were then replaced by Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) which is now being replaced by Open Road Tolling (ORT). The difference between ETC and ORT is that for ETC you have to slow down and be channeled into a lane to have your transponder read, but for ORT you can rip through at speed and if you don’t have a transponder you’re license plate will be read and you can pay a little later and likely a little more.
If you’ve been paying attention you know that something new is afoot – a way to meter your use of the road without those big metal monster-gantries reading your transponder (“tag” if you are European). This new technology uses GPS and a bunch of other techno-magic to provide satellite-based tolling, or GPS-based tolling. At Skymeter we call this class of highly-reliable GPS, Financial-grade GPS (FGPS), since it can produce evidentiary quality trip records in the event a motorist wishes to confirm or refute whether a certain trip was taken exactly as billed.
FGPS enables tolling anywhere – or better still everywhere – and that makes it the key to eventually ending the gas tax. (The gas-tax has several major problems: it cannot manage congestion, it is already diminished by fuel efficiency, and it will soon become further diminished by alternate fuels including the hybrid and the all-electric vehicle. It has other problems, but let's go with these for now.)
More interesting is the fact that FGPS permits the variation of tolls by place (roadway or area), time of day, day of week and type of vehicle. This introduces a way to protect the environment by tolling differentially by vehicle emission class, a way to reduce congestion by charging more during peak hours, and a far fairer way to fund roads than raising property or sales taxes.
In addition to all that fairness and greenness, FGPS enables automated parking payment and pay-as-you-drive insurance. These get high marks for convenience and yet more fairness. Pay-as-you-drive insurance also reduces congestion and increases road safety.
Even better, it is possible to reward drivers (say, with parking credits) when they do not use their vehicles during peak hours. So they’d pay lower tolls AND receive a reward.
Altogether these capabilities combine to form what we call Smart Mobility Metering, which is analogous to smart electricity metering or water metering and other simple supply-and-demand payment variation.
AND all of this is provided in a manner that keeps the vehicle and driver ID anonymous. We think that is equally smart.