Future-Proofing Tolling

By Alessandro Stagni

Most of the tolling systems currently available are marketed as “innovative,” although the rate of innovation in the industry over the past 20 years has been generally paced to minimally satisfy changing agency requirements, without with the major updates that reflect revolutionary changes in the broader technology landscape. Our competitors have been adding new features and interfaces to their solutions and updating the next-version software infrastructure but are not changing their design foundation.

As a result, most tolling integrators still conserve the classical “enterprise application” schema: a central relational database, data processing jobs, and web servers to provide the user interface. This basic design has been working for decades, and the contractors’ comfort in stability outweighs agencies’ desire for efficiency and true future-proofing.

In the meantime, the “Big Tech” companies have long ago moved on from this architectural design, because it is costly and limited in scalability, data processing capability, and adaptability to the new market demands. In the last 10 years, mainstream consumer data companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Amazon, and Yahoo have invested in a completely new design approach and the software technologies to support it. Once these technologies became available as open source, the combined forces of the development community generated related software components, thereby triggering broad mainstream adoption. The adoption of these mainstream technologies – real-time event streaming, COTS and open-source, cloud and edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) – puts tolling agencies on the same technology “playing field” as most of the Fortune 500 companies in the IT, financial, manufacturing, and service sectors. In other words, open-source and COTS are the only path towards tolling agencies’ technology relevance for years and even decades to come.