Satellite surveillance should replace tolls on Norway’s roads: council

GPS surveillance is a fairer method for charging motorists for their use of Norway’s roads than toll booths, says the Norwegian Road Traffic Advisory Council.

Satellite surveillance should replace tolls on Norway’s roads: council
File photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

The Road Traffic Advisory Council (Opplysningsrådet for veitrafikken, OFV), an umbrella interest organisation for road constructors, the motor industry and insurance and oil companies, says that GPS monitoring of traffic is the method of the future when it comes to charging motorists fairly.

“We wish to replace today’s toll booths with a system in which motorists pay based on where and when they drive and the emissions of their cars,” the Council’s head Karin Yrvin told broadcaster NRK.

But Director Atle Årnes of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet) told the broadcaster he was sceptical over the idea.

“This type of dynamic road pricing will register even more information about us. Since it would be a continual registration of where we go, this is very significant with regard to personal privacy,” Årnes said.

Årnes added that GPS monitoring of all drivers could, nevertheless, be acceptable under certain conditions.

“A possible solution is that personal information is stored in individual cars, rather than centrally, and that only information necessary for billing is forwarded by the car,” he said.

Toll booths and stations already established in Norway present an existing personal privacy issue, Årnes continued.

“The toll stations send information for central registration every time they are passed,” he told NRK.

“Road pricing with localised GPS monitoring could actually be better for privacy,” he said.

Traffic Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said earlier this year that the government was sceptical on dynamic road tolling, with surveillance concerns part of its considerations.

Yrvin told NRK that the privacy argument should be considered relative to the benefits of a fair tolling system.

“This way, society can fully implement the principle that polluters pay for their emissions,” she said.

Technology to implement the system already exists, Yrvin added.

Årnes said that, for many Norwegians, surveillance through internet and mobile phones had now become accepted to some degree.

“Cars are on their way to becoming ‘the new mobiles’, and you have less control over a car than something in your pocket. Mobiles can be turned off, or you can ask for sensors to be turned off. That is not so easy for a car,” he told NRK.

READ ALSO: Most Norwegians want GPS tags for children


MAPS: Where have Norway’s one million coronavirus vaccinations been given?

More than a million people in Norway have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to official data.

MAPS: Where have Norway's one million coronavirus vaccinations been given?
Photo: Luis ACOSTA / AFP

On Friday SYSVAK, Norway’s vaccine register, showed that 1,025,436 people had taken their first jab, with a further 300,032 people being fully vaccinated with both doses.

How are vaccines distributed in Norway?  

Vaccines are distributed by the government based upon how many people in risk groups are in each municipality. Supply is also prioritised to areas with high infection rates, such as Oslo.

Once vaccines are given to municipalities the rest of the vaccination process is handled individually by the local authorities.

So far, central authorities have distributed over 1.2 million vaccines to municipalities.

The Pfizer vaccine is the most common serum in Norway with over 930,000 jabs being distributed.

AstraZeneca is the next most widely used, with almost 180,000 of the Anglo-Swedish manufacturer’s doses being sent out to municipalities. Around 50,000 thousand of these doses are still in storage however, as the vaccine’s use has been suspended since March.

Moderna is the least common vaccine in Norway with just over 100,000 doses being handed out to local authorities.   

First dose administered, per county

Unsurprisingly, Oslo and Viken have received the lion’s share of the vaccines so far. This is due to the Oslo being the largest city in Norway and Viken being the most populous county.

More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated with their first dose in Viken and over 120,000 have gotten their first dose in Oslo.

Another reason for Oslo and Viken vaccinating more people than anywhere else is also due to the high infection incidence in the counties. According national health authority NIPH’s latest weekly report, Oslo and Viken County are responsible for almost three quarters of coronavirus infections in Norway.

Troms and Finnmark counties have administered the fewest doses so far. This is due in part to the low population and the government’s prioritisation of vaccines towards Covid-19 hotspots.

Below you can see a map of how many first doses have been administered in each county.

Second dose administered, by county

More than twice the number of people are fully vaccinated in Viken than anywhere else in the country.

There are also five and a half more fully vaccinated people in Viken than in the county with the lowest amount of fully vaccinated people, Troms and Finnmark.

At the time of writing, western county Vestland has the second-highest number of people to have received both their first and second jabs.

The interactive map below shows how many fully vaccinated people there are in each county.

First dose by municipality

Norway’s largest cities dominate the list of municipalities to have given people their first jab.

Oslo has vaccinated more than double the number than the municipality to vaccinate the second most people, Bergen.

The capital municipality has vaccinated more than 2,100 times more people than Utsira, which has given the least people their first jab with 69.

But proportionally, Utsira has vaccinated many more of its inhabitants than Oslo as it only has a population of 211.

You can see the data for all 356 of Norway’s municipalities below.

Second dose by municipality

21 percent of residents in the tiny municipality of Utsira have been fully vaccinated. This is 15.5 percent higher than the national average. In total, 45 people in Utsira are fully vaccinated.

Oslo has fully vaccinated 33,954 of its residents by far, more than double the amount any other municipality has managed to date. Only Oslo and Bergen have vaccinated more than 10,000 people with both doses at present.

Below you can see a map containing the data for each municipality to have administered both doses of a vaccine.