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New Sensors Will Scoop Up "Big Data" On Chicago

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the count-them-up dept.

Government 64

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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64 comments

You guys... (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a month ago | (#47297945)

Scifi pop culture is NOT a guide. Cmon.

Re:You guys... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about a month ago | (#47298593)

Wifi enabled grenades might be fun though.

Re:You guys... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a month ago | (#47299363)

Life does imitate art....

Oh wait, video games aren't art. Nevermind.

Dupe dupe dupe (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47297955)

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/06/20/2322251/chicago-adding-sensors-for-public-monitoring

Watch Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47297965)

Just like Watch Dogs right? lol

Re:Watch Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299321)

that is not Chicago and any one who thinks it is will have there Chicago card beat of out them.

Re:Watch Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299361)

The NPCs sure are whiny assholes like Chicagoans though.

more weather stations good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47297967)

more towers with built-in stingray devices bad...

Re:more weather stations good... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47298101)

I don't understand, if the devices are affixed to poles, how will they be able to leave chemtrails around? I'm still wearing my tin foil hat just in case.

just so it doesn't change Chicago as a city (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a month ago | (#47299483)

after all, every person in the cemetary has a right to vote!

Re:just so it doesn't change Chicago as a city (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47300519)

after all, every person in the cemetary has a right to be voted!

Fixed it for you!

New Features (4, Funny)

BobLenon (67838) | about a month ago | (#47297973)

When will Slashdot install sensors to detect duplicate news?

Re:New Features (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month ago | (#47297993)

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.

Re:New Features (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a month ago | (#47299123)

At this point I'm hedging my bet that metric over imperial will be the first change to arrive.

Re:New Features (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | about a month ago | (#47302513)

We're actually holding out for a base 2 unit system.

Re:New Features (1)

sribe (304414) | about a month ago | (#47298623)

When will Slashdot install sensors to detect duplicate news?

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

Project plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47300035)

"...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...."

For Version 1. Version 2, on the other hand...

Oh really? (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a month ago | (#47297985)

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.

Re:Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298047)

Unless the NSA is already involved and forcing them to keep quiet about it...

Re:Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298119)

Papers please, comrade.

Re:Oh really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298149)

Papers? I don't need no stinkin' papers! I've already got your cell phone metadata, contact list, gps coordinates, and a recording of that last call you made to your mama, bitch.

Re:Oh really? (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a month ago | (#47298453)

Unless the NSA is already involved and forcing them to keep quiet about it...

Why would the NSA bother with these when they pretty much own the telcos? They would just use the regular towers to track you. Now the Chicago PD, well that's a different story...

Re:Oh really? (2)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about a month ago | (#47298581)

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.

Re:Oh really? (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a month ago | (#47299563)

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?

Privacy already dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299565)

major cities are *already* monitored 24/7, in Canada, the United States, England, and surely other developed countries. Washington D.C. has many or most of its downtown businesses and buildings sharing camera data with DHS, and I've heard of panopticon-like monitoring of at least one Canadian city downtown, I think by the RCMP.

Do you really think the NYPD, LAPD, and other major law enforcement institutions are not doing the same thing?

The idea that ANY kind of privacy restriction (aside from basic security) on this particular system makes any change to our privacy at this point is ansurd.

Thanks Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298007)

Chicago the city of corrupt politicians, and one even became our president ugh

Re:Thanks Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298103)

Actually you should be thanking Rahm Emanuel.

Re:Thanks Obama (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a month ago | (#47298921)

Obama was never involved in the Chicago city government. But don't let facts stand in your way.

Thus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298025)

CtOS is born

no concern for abuse? (3, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month ago | (#47298039)

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

Re:no concern for abuse? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a month ago | (#47298227)

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

Re:no concern for abuse? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month ago | (#47298369)

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

Re:no concern for abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298575)

This doesn't mean much. The hardware can be easily field upgraded to machinery that can.

Re:no concern for abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299261)

I don't know if that's possible. In fact, I doubt they can "observe mobile devices and count contact" without identifying each mobile uniquely.

The reason being that: if the hardware registers a particular mobile phone, it needs to identify it so as not to count the same one again a few seconds later.

So to get any accuracy at all, they need to identify and remember each phone, at least temporarily.

Re:no concern for abuse? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a month ago | (#47301345)

Measuring count citizens passing through only needs to account for whether a signal exists and signal strength. If citizen A comes from east, exists west and comes back a second later, he will be counted again, which is correct, according to the scope of the metric.
Measures are:
- how many items are in an area at a given time;
- how many items are in the area on average over X time period.
None of which requires items to be uniquely identified.

Re:no concern for abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47310493)

It seems to be more of an active process. If it was passive monitoring, then I'd agree. From the article:

"The sensors will broadcast a request every 15 to 60 seconds, requesting nearby devices to respond, Catlett said. The number of responses will be counted and saved, but the software will not collect or save the address, he said."

A call and response from a cellphone or bluetooth device will always contain some identifiable data. So it does appear they need this information, but promise to discard it.

Re:no concern for abuse? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a month ago | (#47310527)

I am not trying to play devil's advocate, but I am going to make a simple analogy.
You are blindfolded in the middle of an unknown number of people. You could send a broadcast asking them to respond with their full names... or clap their hands once.
Both methods will enable you to count how many there are. One is gathering more information than strictly required, the other just enough.
Of course, in the above case it could swing both ways, so there's no way to know for sure, all I'm saying is that both ways are possible.

Just what Chicago needs... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298075)

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:Just what Chicago needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298443)

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

The murders happen in mostly constrained areas [chicagotribune.com] that do not affect the people shopping on Michigan avenue. The city is extremely segregated by socioeconomic status. The murders are tolerated because "it doesn't happen to people that matter." Surely this is to be used to keep the good people on the north side safe from the rabble.

Re:Just what Chicago needs... (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a month ago | (#47299513)

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 capita, safer than almost all the other large cities in the US (NYC and LA as notable exceptions). So, in case you were wondering, the "Murder Capital" race is a toss up between Detroit (54 murders per 100k), and New Orleans (53 murders per 100k).

Re:Just what Chicago needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299631)

What's even better is that the linked FBI release has this disclaimer in it: "Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment."

Re:Just what Chicago needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47300323)

Just to toss in some numbers for Chicago...

2012 was Chicago's worst year for murders, at 507. That's for a population of 4.7 million. Last year was 435.

More democrat Big Brother - the Overlord!! (1, Insightful)

JohnnyConservative (1611795) | about a month ago | (#47298117)

This intrusion into your privacy should be rejected and stopped!!

And do they guarentee in writing that the data is. (1)

SirGeek (120712) | about a month ago | (#47298131)

... 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... ?

Taxpayers paying twice (2)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about a month ago | (#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.

Cloud To Butt Data To Poop 2.1 (1)

koosnat (987343) | about a month ago | (#47298205)

Does anyone still have this extension installed? ... The article headline was "New Sensors Will Scoop Up "Big Poop" On Chicago"... Amazing.

Watch Dogs IRL? (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about a month ago | (#47298231)

...And that's how CToS starts.

Only if Comp Scientist Charlie Catlett says its OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298243)

After all, that's a name I can trust!

Sounds great (1)

robstout (2873439) | about a month ago | (#47298871)

Until you get to the cell phone counting.

It is enough to make a big brother (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about a month ago | (#47298883)

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.

will they be able to detect local climate shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47298975)

every time the bears lose to the packers? determine the final score of the game without actually knowing the score?

1 billion undocumented people in Chicago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299187)

Random iPhone macs [slashdot.org]

Re:1 billion undocumented people in Chicago... (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month ago | (#47300841)

Voters.

But then they aren't having any more trouble counting them then Slashdot does counting article dupes.

I have a IMO a propounding question. (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a month ago | (#47299215)

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.

Re: I have a IMO a propounding question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299457)

Well the obvious reason is because the voters could say no and stop it.....

Re: I have a IMO a propounding question. (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | about a month ago | (#47299465)

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?

Re:I have a IMO a propounding question. (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a month ago | (#47300667)

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.

'til Rahm Privatizes this along everything else (1)

BerneAI (448306) | about a month ago | (#47299239)

Right! In addition to the 22,000 surveillance cameras hooked into the central facial recognition system? So the taxpayers are funding this. right up there with the Patriot Act will not be used to spy on private citizens and atomic energy is only for peaceful purposes...remember who is mayor here, the "moderate" Karl Rove, Rahm, Fish Dancer, Emanuel...

Nothing else important to spend money on? (0)

drainbramage (588291) | about a month ago | (#47299353)

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

Expect delays in shipment of them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47299539)

as I am sure they will be stopped in transit somewhere so that more sensors and/or another transmitter can be installed by some secret organization.

Imagine... (1)

kenh (9056) | about a month ago | (#47300153)

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?

In DC they have 1 mph over speeding cameras. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47301273)

That cost you 50 bucks and this is what you worry about.

I am trying to get everyone to drive 10 MPH under and not reelect a single person in any office in DC.

Turning driving into a gauntlet is a threat to everyone's pursuit of happiness.
They have at leat lode their jobs but it should be their heads.

Live on PPV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47301875)

With gun shot detection and HD cameras, viewers can practically taste the brain matter.

How I became invisible (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a month ago | (#47302631)

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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