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Government Privacy Science Technology

New Sensors Will Scoop Up "Big Data" On Chicago 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the count-them-up dept.
Graculus writes with news about a plan to install sensors to collect environmental data and count people in Chicago. Chicago plans to install sensors in light poles to observe air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, and wind. The sensors will also count people by observing cell phone traffic. The curled metal fixtures set to go up on a handful of Michigan Avenue light poles later this summer may look like delicate pieces of sculpture, but researchers say they'll provide a big step forward in the way Chicago understands itself by observing the city's people and surroundings. Some experts caution that efforts like the one launching here to collect data from people and their surroundings pose concerns of a Big Brother intrusion into personal privacy. In particular, sensors collecting cell phone data make privacy proponents nervous. But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.
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New Sensors Will Scoop Up "Big Data" On Chicago

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  • Scifi pop culture is NOT a guide. Cmon.

  • by BobLenon (67838) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:14AM (#47297973) Homepage

    When will Slashdot install sensors to detect duplicate news?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Shortly after they hire editors who can actually write in the English language, which will be slightly before we all decide that Beta is awesome, which will then lead to hell freezing over.

      Come on, your UID is low enough to know that dupes are an integral part of the Slashdot experience. :-P

      In Soviet Russia, Slashdot dupes you.

    • by sribe (304414)

      When will Slashdot install sensors to detect duplicate news?

      They're called "editors", so the question is when will they finally debug them???

  • But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.

    That may be how it is designed now, but without (actually enforced) laws about the data collected and the legal uses thereof, tracking phone addresses and individuals is only a firmware update away.

    • But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.

      That may be how it is designed now, but without (actually enforced) laws about the data collected and the legal uses thereof, tracking phone addresses and individuals is only a firmware update away.

      That "every device" phrase sounds like a loophole to me. So long as they DON'T record the digital address of even ONE device that crosses their path, they're technically telling the truth, even as they're lying.

    • by Rick Zeman (15628)

      But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.

      That may be how it is designed now, but without (actually enforced) laws about the data collected and the legal uses thereof, tracking phone addresses and individuals is only a firmware update away.

      How will they actually count without some unique identifier to tell the signals apart?

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:23AM (#47298039) Homepage

    But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.

    Right, because the software cant be adjusted at a later point to collect that data. And thats not including the fact that it may be a lie to begin with

    • The hardware itself could be designed in such a way to be incapable of capturing that information.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        while this is true, if it cant be vetted, we need to assume that it is possible to be abused. I assume we wont ever get the source of this device to analyze
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure gather heat and wind information is the top priority of citizens who live in the murder capital of America [foxnews.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jeffmeden (135043)

      I'm sure gather heat and wind information is the top priority of citizens who live in the murder capital of America [foxnews.com].

      In case there was any doubt: here is your ongoing proof that Fox is "fair and balanced" (/sarcasm). The headline reads: "FBI: Chicago officially America's murder capital" but did the FBI report contain anything suggesting the term "Murder Capital" was appropriate? Let's see... nope. OK, maybe the report particularly damns Chicago's poor attempts to reduce gun violence? Hmm, nope it doesn't say anything specific about Chicago at all. Where is the fine print at? Oh, ok, there it is! Chicago is, per ca

  • ... totally anonymous ?

    How do you know that city employees are lying ? Their lips are moving :-\

    and do they ensure that data won't be aggregated (i.e. Cellphone xxx-yyy-zzzz is anonymized at EVERY tower using a different encryption me key so that they can't look at the city and correlate that Cellphone xxx-yyy-zzzz was here, and here, and here, etc... ?

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:36AM (#47298139)

    From what I'm reading about these sensors, a lot of the things they track are already tracked by the NOAA, which is funded with federal taxpayer dollars. It might be different if the NOAA was chipping in funding for this (to get a better understanding of local weather patterns or just more accurate readings for the area) but it seems like the City of Chicago is funding this themselves, and there's no word on whether the data will be shared with the NOAA.

    Something tells me that the City of Chicago will try to sell the data to one of the services that piggybacks off the NOAA but charges for their analysis - AccuWeather or one of its competitors.

  • Does anyone still have this extension installed? ... The article headline was "New Sensors Will Scoop Up "Big Poop" On Chicago"... Amazing.
  • by war4peace (1628283) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:49AM (#47298231)

    ...And that's how CToS starts.

  • Until you get to the cell phone counting.
  • MIT has "I track body motion by how it disturbs cell signals" technology. Look it up.
    They are talking about literally the ability to track everyone all the time without implanting a chip.

    "It is all fun and games until" this system tracks mouth motion of two dirty chicago politicians - and that data can be used against them.

  • I have a IMO a propounding question. Why is this stuff just done with no voter imput? Wither its a government project or a private one, I thing we should demand public input and maybe even voter approval or disapproval.........And has any privacy agencies tried this method? Just seem to me they shouldn't be using government equipment "poles" "Right of ways".or government property.
    • The obvious reason would be because voters could stop it. Why would any gov't body take a chance on mass surveillance being stopped before it even gets started?
    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      I have a IMO a propounding question. Why is this stuff just done with no voter imput? Wither its a government project or a private one, I thing we should demand public input and maybe even voter approval or disapproval.........And has any privacy agencies tried this method? Just seem to me they shouldn't be using government equipment "poles" "Right of ways".or government property.

      No, the proper way to do it is wait until they have spent all the money to buy the equipment and deploy it, then pass a referendum that makes them illegal.

  • Big, prosperous, safe, cities.
    New York is spending money making sure you don't get too big a cup, how can we top that?

  • by kenh (9056)

    Just imagine that instead of Dem. Mayor Rahm Emanuel dropping these around the city of Chicago it was former President Bush - would this still sound like a good idea?

    Why does this seem like a good idea under Mayor Emanuel?

  • I do not own a mobile phone. Today I understood I am going to become invisible to the government in the upcoming years.

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