NYC: The most Surveilled City in the World!

Excuse? Testing New Technology Aimed At Reducing Traffic Congestion

CBS
July 18, 2011

What if you could fix a traffic jam with a push of a button?

It might be just wishful thinking or it could become reality under a new high-tech traffic monitoring system unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg — optimistically called “Midtown in Motion.”

Traffic engineers in the city’s new high-tech Traffic Management Center don’t look like wizards, but they may have the ability to make traffic congestion disappear, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“This system is about to take a quantum leap forward,” Bloomberg said Monday.

The new program is sort of big brother-ish. An array of new traffic monitoring gear, including microwave sensors, traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers will be used to measure traffic volume at 23 intersections. The technology will allow traffic experts to spot traffic tie-ups or unusual congestion and then do something about it.

“It will allow engineers to quickly identify congestion choke points as they occur and what’s most important, they’ll then be able to remotely alter traffic signal patterns to begin to clear up Midtown jams at the touch of a button,” Bloomberg said.

The new program is sort of big brother-ish. An array of new traffic monitoring gear, including microwave sensors, traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers will be used to measure traffic volume at 23 intersections. The technology will allow traffic experts to spot traffic tie-ups or unusual congestion and then do something about it.

“It will allow engineers to quickly identify congestion choke points as they occur and what’s most important, they’ll then be able to remotely alter traffic signal patterns to begin to clear up Midtown jams at the touch of a button,” Bloomberg said.

Spy tech ‘monitors conversations’ launched in Europe

By Daniel Tencer

Privacy rights advocates and civil liberties campaigners in Europe are raising the alarm about a new surveillance system that

The Shadow Government has Eyes and Ears everywhere. Click image and learn the details

monitors conversations in public.

The surveillance system, dubbed Sigard, has been installed in Dutch city centers, government offices and prisons, and a recent test-run of the technology in Coventry, England, has British civil rights experts worried that the right to privacy will disappear in efforts to fight street crime.

The system’s manufacturer, Sound Intelligence, says it works by detecting aggression in speech patterns.

“Ninety percent of all incidents involving physical aggression are preceded by verbal aggression,” the Sound Intelligence Web site says. “The ability to spot verbal aggression before it turns into a violent outbreak delivers valuable time to security personnel and enables speedy intervention.”

According to the UK’s Sunday Telegraph, the city of Coventry recently finished a six-month test run of the system, which involved the installation of seven microphones around a crime-prone nightlife district. A spokesperson for the city said the system is “no longer in use.”

The Herald in Scotland reported last month that the system has also been tested in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.

“In Hackney in London, the system detected up to six crimes a night, including fights and guns being fired,” the paper reported.

Sigard’s use is more widespread in the Netherlands, where the system’s manufacturer is located. According to the Sound Intelligence Web site, the system has been installed in Amsterdam’s train station, as well as police headquarters, and has also been installed inside a number of prisons and the city centers of Dordrecht and Groningen.

Sound Intelligence says that the technology focuses principally on tone of voice, and is not designed to listen to the content of conversations. But opponents say the technology is open to abuse.

“There can be no justification for giving councils or the police the capability to listen in on private conversations,” Dylan Sharpe of the UK’s Big Brother Watch told the Sunday Telegraph. “There is enormous potential for abuse, or a misheard word, causing unnecessary harm with this sort of intrusive and overbearing surveillance.”

In a sarcastic editorial, the Herald argued that crime could be eliminated altogether if the government were to install Sigard technology in all homes and offices.

Let’s install surveillance cameras and microphones in every room of every new home that is built. Make it a condition of planning consent. … It won’t just leave terrorists with no place to hide, it’ll expose criminals wherever they’re holed up or plotting. Isn’t this the logical extension of what is already happening, of what we’re allowing with barely a squeak of protest?

The police could be at the door, handcuffs at the ready, before a drunken man can punch his wife or say “domestic violence”. … Cameras in the home would eradicate child abuse. Burglary, too, would be obliterated since the thief would know the police had a ringside seat. Think of the benefits. Peace would reign in every household, the crime rate would plummet and prisons would no longer be overcrowded.

The New Prison Industrial-Complex

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Global Research

There is a new technological trend in the United States that promises to use advances in Internet, GPS, and chemical detection technology to manage states’ surging prison and parolee populations. Several states, particularly those with massive budget deficits like California and Michigan, are unable to shoulder the burden of housing more inmates in their dangerously overcrowded prisons. They are therefore dramatically increasing the use of GPS technology to monitor the whereabouts and activities of parolees, as well as using the technology for home detention programs and even alcohol consumption monitoring. While it is true that GPS ankle bracelets have been in use for a few years now, new technology, laws, and applications are increasing the use of such devices in what is soon to be a booming industry – fully dependent upon the corrections system.

In Richmond, California, statistically identified as having America’s fourteenth highest crime rate [1] , the police recently fitted twenty parolees with GPS tracking devices on their ankles. [2] The devices include paging systems that require the parolee to call his or her parole agent each time they feel the device vibrate. Police officers say that they can use the devices to track parolees and place them at the scene of a crime committed while on parole. The tracking devices do, however, bring into question the status of a parolee’s civil liberties and may open the door to court challenges regarding invasion of privacy and other constitutionally guaranteed rights. The political will of several states are fully behind using the new technology and the courts thus far seem to like the flexibility they offer in sentencing and early release. The Richmond program is merely the tip of the iceberg.

In Los Angeles, for example, the police have established the Realtime Analysis and Critical Response (RACR) division, which uses a website called VeriTracks to follow parolees. [3] Parolees wearing the tracking devices are tracked online in real time with their whereabouts shown on a map by a green colored dot. RACR has the ability to type in the location of a crime and determine whether or not a parolee was at the scene of the crime at or around the time of the incident. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been paroling gang members on the condition that they wear the tracking devices and has also begun using the devices on sex offenders. In fact, under a new law called Chelsea’s Law , those convicted of violent sex acts against children under age 14 would qualify for lifetime GPS tracking. [4] In 2007, California was projected to spend $30 million on GPS tracking devices and services. The state now spends around $80 million annually on equipment and services without any proof that the new technology has made citizens safer. [5]

The State of Florida has signed on to use a new type of technology, sold by the company ActSoft, which not only monitors the whereabouts of a person, but also can detect whether or not that person has been drinking alcohol. Florida asserts that the technology is being used to free up space in prisons for violent offenders and is even giving people charged with reckless driving with the option of either going to jail to await trial, or staying out on bail with an ankle bracelet that can detect alcohol in their blood. [6] The system works by detecting the presence of ethanol vapors, a telltale sign of the metabolism of alcohol.

Public safety advocates continue to push for greater restrictions on the freedom of movement, and the elimination of privacy rights of those charged with or convicted of crimes. This is not a new platform in the annals of America’s criminal justice system. Public figures regularly jump at the opportunity to be perceived as tough on crime and, in fact, are terrified of being perceived as weak on crime. The fear is that public at large will hold politicians accountable for their perceived weakness on crime and, as such, this is a perception that politicians want to avoid at all costs – no matter what the evidence says regarding the effectiveness of “get tough on crime” measures. Fortunately for those fearing the perception of weakness, state budget crises all across America are enabling lawmakers to also use public finances as a justification for the increased use of electronic monitoring, otherwise known as “tethering,” on those in the criminal justice system.

States all across the country are engaged in cost analyses and coming to the conclusion that the use of electronic tethers is highly cost effective. One county jurisdiction in Michigan is reporting that people who are incarcerated cost the county $95 per day, while those who are tethered only cost between $6 and $12 per day. [7] In 2007, Florida had to pay approximately $12 per day for electronic monitoring while incarceration cost the state $43.26 per day for a man and $65.46 per day for a woman. [8] The attractive cost differential is being touted by businesses providing the equipment and monitoring services and is creating a new aspect of business in America’s prison-industrial complex which once grew as a result of increasing the number of prisons built – whether publicly or privately owned. [9] Whereas the expansion of America’s prison system was once an integral part of politics, the “war on crime,” and a new economic base for impoverished rural areas, state budget problems have forced the complex to rely on a new form of technology that could one day enable the monitoring of parolees or people in pre-trial confinement to be outsourced to foreign countries. The profit potential for companies providing electronic monitoring equipment and services is noteworthy. Denver’s Alcohol Monitoring Solutions has claimed that the market for their products could eventually be worth $1.3 billion per year. [10]

Civil rights advocates have warned that the privacy, search and seizure, and due process of parolees and others might be violated by having someone watching them around the clock, particularly those who are required to wear the devices for life. Such an obligation equals new punishment after punishment for the crime has already been rendered and time served. Additionally, those required to wear the devices may find it hard to obtain a job and become normal, productive members of society.

Paul C. Wright is an attorney, business consultant, and legal researcher who has practiced both military and civil law. His legal practice areas have included criminal, international, insurance, and consumer law.Paul C. Wright is an attorney, business consultant, and legal researcher who has practiced both military and civil law. His legal practice areas have included criminal, international, insurance, and consumer law.

‘Smart dust’ aims to monitor everything. No Joke.

CNN

In the 1990s, a researcher named Kris Pister dreamed up a wild future in which people would sprinkle the Earth with countless tinysmart dust sensors, no larger than grains of rice.

These “smart dust” particles, as he called them, would monitor everything, acting like electronic nerve endings for the planet. Fitted with computing power, sensing equipment, wireless radios and long battery life, the smart dust would make observations and relay mountains of real-time data about people, cities and the natural environment.

Now, a version of Pister’s smart dust fantasy is starting to become reality.

“It’s exciting. It’s been a long time coming,” said Pister, a computing professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

“I coined the phrase 14 years ago. So smart dust has taken a while, but it’s finally here.”

Maybe not exactly how he envisioned it. But there has been progress.

The latest news comes from the computer and printing company Hewlett-Packard, which recently announced it’s working on a projectit calls the “Central Nervous System for the Earth.” In coming years, the company plans to deploy a trillion sensors all over the planet.

The wireless devices would check to see if ecosystems are healthy, detect earthquakes more rapidly, predict traffic patterns and monitor energy use. The idea is that accidents could be prevented and energy could be saved if people knew more about the world in real time, instead of when workers check on these issues only occasionally.

HP will take its first step toward this goal in about two years, said Pete Hartwell, a senior researcher at HP Labs in Palo Alto. The company has made plans with Royal Dutch Shell to install 1 million matchbook-size monitors to aid in oil exploration by measuring rock vibrations and movement, he said. Those sensors, which already have been developed, will cover a 6-square-mile area.

That will be the largest smart dust deployment to date, he said.

“We just think now, the technology has reached a point where it makes basic sense for us … to get this out of the lab and into reality,” Hartwell said.

Smart dust (minus the ‘dust’)

Despite the recent excitement, there’s still much confusion in the computing industry about what exactly smart dust is.

For starters, the sensors being deployed and developed today are much larger and clunkier than flecks of dust. HP’s sensors — accelerometers like those in the iPhone and Droid phone, but about 1,000 times more powerful — are about the size of matchbooks. When they’re enclosed in a metal box for protection, they’re about the size of a VHS tape.

So what makes a smart dust sensor different from a weather station or a traffic monitor?

Size is one factor. Smart dust sensors must be relatively small and portable. But technology hasn’t advanced far enough to manufacture the sensors on the scale of millimeters for commercial use (although Berkeley researchers are trying to make one that’s a cubic millimeter).

Wireless connections are a big distinguisher, too. A building’s thermostat is most likely hard-wired. A smart dust sensor might gauge temperature, but it would be battery-powered and would communicate wirelessly with the internet and with other sensors.

The sheer number of sensors in the network is what truly makes a smart dust project different from other efforts to record data about the world, said Deborah Estrin, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who works in the field.

Smart dust researchers tend to talk in the millions, billions and trillions.

Some say reality has diverged so far from the smart dust concept that it’s time to dump that term in favor or something less sexy. “Wireless sensor networks” or “meshes” are terms finding greater acceptance with some researchers.

Estrin said it’s important to ditch the idea that smart dust sensors would be disposable.

Sensors have to be designed for specific purposes and spread out on the land intentionally — not scattered in the wind, as smart dust was initially pitched, she said.   More…