Saturday, January 15, 2011

South African traffic signals vandalized for their embedded SIMs

It's amazing the uses that cellular technology is put to. In this case, the Johannesburg Road Authority (JRA) in Johannesburg, South African is using it to alert them of malfunctioning traffic signals. Ah, but thieves have learned of the new technology, and have taken to stealing the SIMs out of the lights for their own use.

What's interesting is that the thieves seem very accurate in their choice of lights to attack. Not all the traffic signals in Johannesburg have SIMs, yet the thieves seem to always target the correct ones. Authorities are pretty sure the thieves have inside information.

So far some 150 traffic signals have been vandalized. The cost of repair is estimated to be about 22,000 rand each, which is about $3,150 for a total of $472,500. The JRA has also disabled the stolen SIM cards.

Of course, one wonders why they don't enable the cellular accounts to be data only. There should be no need for the signals to actually make a voice call, and data-only SIMs would be much less attractive.

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