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Tom Tom Sells GPS Info To Dutch Cops

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the whole-different-kind-of-public-relations dept.

Government 204

jfruhlinger writes "As smartphones with GPS capabilities wear away at the dedicated GPS market, vendors like Tom Tom need to find new revenue streams. Tom Tom decided it would be a good idea to 'share' (i.e., sell) aggregated data from their users to Dutch law enforcement. The company claims they assumed that the data would be used to improve traffic safety and road engineering, and were shocked, shocked to discover that instead the police used it to figure out the best places to put speed traps."

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204 comments

I sold info to people about CmdrTaco's penis size (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002202)

I sold the info about CmdrTaco's microscopic penis size including extensive photographs from the gay bathhouse he frequents to marketers who sell penis enlargement pills.

Re:I sold info to people about CmdrTaco's penis si (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002280)

I guess hanging round a gay bathhouse taking photos of guys penises is an inte3resting way to earn a living.

Re:I sold info to people about CmdrTaco's penis si (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002886)

I make $3000 a week and get to see all the willies I can handle. Fan-fucking-tastic job!

Again? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002212)

Did this story come from the Department of Redundancy Department?

Re:Again? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002282)

it should have. I posted in a recent related thread forecasting this exact same thing would happen. Really, is anyone surprised by this? Lately the law seems to be a lot more interested in finding ways to boost their revenue than to protect the public.

Re:Again? (3, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002728)

>>>finding ways to boost their revenue than to protect the public.

I'm one of those who thinks the LAW needs to be changed, not the enforcement. i.e. Go ahead and put cameras on redlights and all along highways. Catch lots of people speeding. And then change the law to be more reasonable, such as 85 on the interstate (which is actually designed to handle 120 per the original Congressional act). Setting speeds artificially low at 65 or 55, when everyone is driving 80, and the road engineers recommend 80, makes no sense.

Re:Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003078)

It makes sense when you talk about fuel economy and when the interstates were built.

Re:Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003188)

Setting speeds artificially low at 65 or 55, when everyone is driving 80, and the road engineers recommend 80, makes no sense.

CITATION NEEDED!!!

Speed is set at 55mph or 65mph because of safety issues for the users, not just road capabilities. You can make roads that will work wonderfully fine at 400mph, but that is plainly unsafe for the drivers at such speeds.

Go ahead and put cameras on redlights and all along highways. Catch lots of people speeding.

Agreed!!!

Re:Again? (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003482)

It does no good to lower the death rate as a percentage of accidents by lowering the speed limit if that in turn results in an increase in the rate of accidents. The probability of a risk is dependent largely on the difference in speed between the slowest and fastest vehicles, so by setting the limit too low, you're not necessarily helping.

Want to lower the death rates? Raise the standards for automobile crash safety. Any other method of achieving such gains is almost invariably illusory. When cars are unnecessarily out on the road because of congestion caused by too-low speed limits, you're adding pollution that statistically kills people, too. It's just a lot harder to measure that causation.

Besides, the safety issues for the users have been dramatically improved since the 1970s, to such an extent that if 65 MPH roads were safe in the 1970s, a 100 MPH road is safe by that safe standard today. Yet speed limits have not increased. Thus, the position that speed limits are set based on safety simply cannot be justified in light of the evidence at hand.

The only good justification for a low speed limit is a large amount of pedestrian traffic, and only because they don't have cars to protect them in a collision. For highways, for maximum safety, the speed limit should be set at a speed that is safe for the road, and should be on electronic signs so they can lower it if road conditions are bad. And it should be set high enough that anyone exceeding it is clearly nuts.

Re:Again? (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003296)

Except, of course, it is in the best financial interest of both the "lawmakers" and the "law enforcement" (not to mention all the private ex-cop/ex-military contractors involved) to lower the speed limit further. More revenue that way and the "voter" has no real recourse anyhow (corporate stooge A vs corporate stooge B). The usual arguments about how "speed kills" and "fuel economy" can be successfully utilized all the way down to speed somewhere around 0mph.

So, let the good times (for a select few at the expense of many) roll!

Any more brilliant ideas?

Re:Again? (2, Insightful)

berwiki (989827) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003340)

I initially modded you up, but I have to comment and strip my points.

I can't find the exact statistic now, but I remember reading how the percent of fatal accidents skyrockets as speed increases...this tidbit supports my statement above:

Speeding increases the crash energy by the square of the speeds. For example, when impact speed increases from 40 to 60 mph (a 50 percent increase), the energy that needs to be managed increases by 125 percent! IIHS [iihs.org]

Plus, if you set the speed limit to 85, how fast do you think people would be driving then?

In Atlanta people already drive like idiots. I've never seen so many people speeding through apartment/mall parking lots! It's insane. At any moment a kid could run out from a car and just get crushed! In Pittsburgh, where I spent most of my early adulthood, the speed limits were a lot lower, and I certainly felt safer (walking, driving, biking...doing anything near a road)

Re:Again? (3, Insightful)

Everyone Is Seth (1202862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003550)

Yay, math!

In other news, did you know that, as impact speed increases from 5 mph to 25 mph, the energy that needs to be managed increases by 2400 percent!? That is just stunning! I think that we must start considering the children here, and lower all speed limits to 5 mph immediately. And ban driving in parking lots. With all of the obstructed views, it is just too dangerous, and I am not going to be held responsible for teaching my children about running into streets blindly.

Re:Again? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003562)

I wouldn't be driving much over 85, if at all, if the limit were that high to be honest. I feel comfortable doing 80-85 on the NJ Turnpike (I95) as-is; setting the speed limit at 85 isn't going to change that.

Re:Again? (1)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003540)

And then change the law to be more reasonable, such as 85 on the interstate (which is actually designed to handle 120 per the original Congressional act). Setting speeds artificially low at 65 or 55, when everyone is driving 80, and the road engineers recommend 80, makes no sense.

The problem with raising the speed limit higher than 70 or so is that a lot of cars can't handle that speed. Maybe when they were new, but I see a lot of mobile trash heaps (or just obviously unmaintained cars) that I wouldn't want to be anywhere in the vicinity of travelling that fast. Things are probably a bit better now with new cars required to have tire pressure monitors, but even then, I know a lot of people that totally ignore the warning light. So, doing the responsible thing (slowing down) would just bring us right back to where the people with well-maintained cars are doing the 85mph limit, while others are doing 65-70.

You'd need reserved lanes with a higher limit that require more frequent inspections that certify a car safe at those speeds.

Re:Again? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003664)

I'm one of those who thinks the LAW needs to be changed, not the enforcement. i.e. Go ahead and put cameras on redlights and all along highways. Catch lots of people speeding. And then change the law to be more reasonable, such as 85 on the interstate (which is actually designed to handle 120 per the original Congressional act). Setting speeds artificially low at 65 or 55, when everyone is driving 80, and the road engineers recommend 80, makes no sense.

Uh, just curious, did the "original Congressional act" take into account the fact that there are still accident-prone humans behind the wheel of that 120MPH "design"?

And I'm also curious, are the road engineers also taking into account the massive aggregate increase in (foreign) oil consumption when everyone starts driving faster and faster while even hybrid fuel economy drops into the shitter?

We can't even keep the driving while texting problem under control with the speeds they're at now, I can't imagine how deadly highway driving would be at anywhere near 90+ with reaction times measured in fractions of a second. Sorry, there would have to be a hell of a lot less human interaction and way more automation to drive safely at those speeds.

Re:Again? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002492)

Well, it did say that Tom Tom was shocked, shocked.

Casablanca (1)

fregare (923563) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002710)

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Re:Again? (0)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002554)

Did this story come from the Department of Redundundancy Department?

FTFY

Re:Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002798)

Did this story come from the Department of Redundundancy Department?

FTFY

Department of Redundancy Sector.

FTFY.

good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002220)

cars kill 1 million people per year worldwide. catching more dangerous drivers would make the world a better place.

Re:good (4, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002324)

Cars that kill people? You mean Christine?

Re:good (-1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002420)

ya how exactly is "the best place to put speed traps" NOT being used to improve traffic safety? The whole damn point is to get people to drive safely and punish people who don't.

I grant you speed traps can be used as a 'revenue generation mechanism' too, (both for insurance companies and for the ticket issuers), but traffic safety and speed enforcement go hand in hand. The best place for revenue generation is where people are speeding the most, which is, on a personally correctable basis the most dangerous places. Speeding is, I would think, one of the most common dangerous driving things we all do (though texting or talking on a cellphone is probably up there, you don't really set up a trap for that which would be any different than a speed trap). Sure there are roads themselves which are unsafe, but that's not a police problem.

http://www.independentmail.com/news/2010/feb/07/dangerous-driving-habits-can-increase-risk-fatal-c/ has a great one line tidbit:

"As in the rest of the nation, most vehicle fatalities in South Carolina and Georgia are attributed to one or more of those three factors: speeding, drunken driving or not wearing a seat belt.

Drivers distracted while using cell phones or text messaging, eating or fidgeting with on-board electronic devices also are a growing concern, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood."

Speed traps can catch: cell phones, texting, not wearing a seat belt and speeding, and drunk driving. Though randomly driving around will probably net better distracted drivers, and targeted placement of checks will catch drunk drivers better. You still want to stop the maximum number of speeders (and people not wearing seat belts.. seriously, who in this day and age doesn't wear a seat belt?), which will be the same place that would ensure maximum revenue generation.

Re:good (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002598)

The whole damn point is to get people to drive safely and punish people who don't.

So are you naive or just stupid?

Speeding is not dangerous in many circumstances, in fact if others are speeding one driver does not he is actually creating a dangerous situation. Road speed limits are set by politicians not proper engineering.

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002682)

I will vote for "just stupid". Either that or just another sad troll.

Re:good (0)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002730)

Speeding is not dangerous in many circumstances

Speeds are set based on many factors and are done by engineers and people lots more knowledgeable than you. And speeds are changeable. If you don't like the speed on a particular roadway and can justify why it is safe to go that speed, go to court and change the speed on that roadway.

There's a highway exit near me that is posted at 25 mph, but routinely people, including me, take it at 50 without trouble. The reason it is 25 is because it's a blind curve because of a sound wall. The exit was put in prior to the sound wall so it was graded for much faster than is reasonable now. There are reasons for posted speeds being what they are.

Re:good (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002784)

Speeds are set by politicians, ever wonder why none of our roads go over 65mph?

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003010)

Quite a few roads in the US have speed limits over 65MPH. You should try looking harder.

If you're an urbanite, the reason you never see speed limits above 65MPH is probably because it's never safe to go above 65MPH on any road you drive on. No matter how many times you and others decide to put your own and others' lives into your hands.

Re:good (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003086)

Actually, it depends on which state you're in, and the primary distinction from one state to another state is the different politicians.

E.g. "the Kansas Legislature on Friday agreed to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on more than 1,000 miles of separated, multi-lane highways." [kansas.com] Yes, that's last Friday; you heard it here first...

Re:good (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003068)

If you want to pay for your own roads you and your state are more than welcome to set your own speeds. If you want federal highway money, you follow the rules given to you. This was the entire impetus behind the 55mph limit imposed during the 70s. Carrot and stick is a highly effective motivator. I don't know if this is used any longer but is the reason most interstates are the way they are.

There are roads out west where its straight and flat and easily able to go 70 or even 90. Those are the exception. And they have one problem, not everybody is going 90. If there's only 2 lanes or even one, a 30-40 mpg difference in speeds becomes a hazard in its own right.

I suspect the speed traps being talked about are not on highways but on regular roads anyway.

Re:good (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003156)

Speeds are set by politicians reacting to (and anticipating) the needs and complaints of the public. Sure, people will complain about that one stretch of 25 MPH road that used to be 45 MPH, but they'll also complain about the student getting hit walking home from the new school there. To avoid looking like an ignorant jackass, a savvy politician will try to make the road safe before the school opens. He'll listen to the opinions of traffic engineers, who will adapt existing traffic patterns to accommodate the new school. A few warning signs later, the school opens, kids are safe(r), and traffic is minimally disrupted. Everyone wins, except that driver who still insists on going 60 MPH.

The reason none of your roads go over 65MPH (though note that several US states are higher, up to 75MPH in Montana) is because the demand for speed doesn't outweigh the demand for safety. Write your representatives, and tell them that you want your collisions to have more energy!

Re:good (3, Informative)

PoopMonkey (932637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002800)

My dad worked with those engineers. What the parent posted is true. The majority of the speed limits you see are not what the engineers give for a road. The possible exceptions are neighborhoods.

Re:good (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003520)

There's a highway exit near me that is posted at 25 mph, but routinely people, including me, take it at 50 without trouble.

Highway exits are almost invariably advisory speed limits [wikipedia.org] . All legally enforceable limits are posted in either white (normal signs) or orange (for construction).

Re:good (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003620)

My point has nothing to do with whether it's 'enforceable' or not. An exit ramp is fairly subjective but double the posted 'advisory' would still be significant I would think.

My point was that roads are affected by things outside of the roadway themselves and even though the physical roadway is built and able to hand higher speeds, there can be other factors causing a lower posted speed.

Re:good (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003464)

sort of by definition, and as I argued, with a source, excessive speed *is* dangerous, regularly. How fast the road can handle is not the same as how fast people should drive, I'm not sure why one (the engineering speed) would imply the latter (the target speed). Lower speed can significantly improve fuel economy and safety in collisions, and remember the article is for europe, where they are far more concerned with car-people collisions than car-car collisions, this is reflected in different lights, different collision standards and just generally different cars. A car moving at a safe engineering speed for a road, even a very slow road (say 40 Km/h) is still going to seriously injure someone they hit, so if you're expecting foot traffic you set speed limits even lower.

Yes, that's a political decision, to incorporate more than just the design of the road, but also it's use, and the likely risk. Oh and depending on where you are, most places I've been no one follows speed limits, so you have to set the speed limit lower than the speed of the road, or else people will drive too fast for the road. Yes, collective disregard for posted speed limits is both strange and very hard to fix.

Yes, when driving you should move with the speed of traffic, speed traps slow traffic because everyone sees a cop and says 'oh shit I don't want a ticket' so they slow down to the 'not worth ticketing speed' (which around here is 15Km/h over the speed limit generally). And hey look, traffic slows down. Which is the point. Maybe in the US it's different but in canada cops don't tend to like stopping people, it's extremely dangerous for them, they would rather people just drove safely. So they do whatever they can to get people to slow down, and pull over the people who are reckless. Including putting 'speed trap' cop cars on the road, with no one in them. To get people to slow down. We had our money grab of speeding tickets, (photoradar), which is long gone for about about 15 years (not that photoradar is necessarily a money grab, but as implemented here, admittedly, before I could drive, it seemed to be).

So I ask you: Are you naive, or just stupid? Because clearly you haven't put much thought into this. Or you're just a reckless driver, and I hope you stay the hell away from roads people actually use.

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002632)

ya how exactly is "the best place to put speed traps" NOT being used to improve traffic safety?

The name alone should be a clue for you: speed traps. They are designed the way they are, and placed the way they are, because they WANT people to speed.

Re:good (2)

JimFive (1064958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002872)

ya how exactly is "the best place to put speed traps" NOT being used to improve traffic safety?

A speed trap is a stretch of road where the speed limit is lower than necessary for safety. This stretch is then used to catch people speeding through that section as a revenue generating tool. In the case in the summary I expect that the police force is finding stretches of road where the limit is already lower than it should be from a safety standpoint and using them as a trap.

N.B. If there is a real safety concern then the accident rate would have identified these areas without using the GPS data.

"As in the rest of the nation, most vehicle fatalities in South Carolina and Georgia are attributed to one or more of those three factors: speeding, drunken driving or not wearing a seat belt."

It should be noted that it is common for statistics of this type to be heavy handed. E.g. if a person dies and someone had been drinking then the death is attributed to "drunk driving" even if the death could not have been averted.

Speed traps can catch: cell phones, texting, not wearing a seat belt and speeding, and drunk driving.

But they won't, except incidentally. The point of a speed trap is to issue citations quickly and easily in a small space. Adding on an extra ticket for not wearing a seatbelt is gravy. However, they aren't on the road watching for erratic driving, they are hidden to the side and pointing a radar gun.
--
JimFive

Re:good (1)

Jetboy01 (550638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003178)

If speeding is as dangerous as claimed why not save themselves some cash and instead of buying the data from Tom Tom simply examing their own records.
They would simply have to look for roads where the most accidents ocurred and set up their speed-traps there.

Re:good (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003572)

ya how exactly is "the best place to put speed traps" NOT being used to improve traffic safety?

Simple. If the majority of vehicles (or even a significant percentage of vehicles) are driving a given speed, then the road is clearly safe at that speed. Therefore, that's prima facie evidence that whoever set the speed limit lower than that was wrong, either due to negligence (incompetence) or malice (revenue generation).

The burden of proof should be nearly impossibly high when it comes to proving that such limits are reasonable, with the sole exception being school zones, and even then, only during hours when students can reasonably be expected to be entering or leaving school.

Repost (5, Informative)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002240)

Re:Repost (1, Offtopic)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002266)

But a blogger at IPWorld needs you to drive up his page and ad clicks!

Re:Repost (5, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002576)

Repost indeed.

Also, just to recap the actual events...

TomTom asks users if they would like to share 'anonymous' (since leaving place X and returning there every weekday is kinda indicatory) traffic information with TomTom in order to improve services. The fine print says that TomTom can also make this information available to 3rd parties.

One of those 3rd parties is a research company. They take datasets and provide condensed reports based on them.

One of the reports they generated revealed either A. where people were speeding or B. simply what speed people were driving. Not individual users - just a breakdown of numbers. N data points, X% of those N > 120kph, Y% between 100kph and 120kph, etc.

This report is what the police apparently use to decide that if every day there's 1,000 people going 140 where they're only supposed to go 100 (arguments of whether 140 is safe etc. is another story), they should place some speed traps there.. be that to make a safer situation, as a cashcow, or simply because they felt like annoying the speeding drivers.

That's it. There wasn't a direct line from TomTom to the police. In addition, that same information is used by the government to determine if perhaps an extra lane should be added, or whether the speed limit should actually be increased (it's usually environment/noise regulations that limit roads to a certain speed).

Now TomTom, pretty much pandering to their audience (the ones that download speed trap location POI's being pretty much the majority) by saying they're going to adjust the terms of use of the datasets so the police couldn't do what they did anymore.

I have no idea how TomTom thinks they're gonna do that, given that they have no direct relationship with the police -and- the data can be used for perfectly good things as well. Tell the research company they can only sell on the distilled information to the government if they include a clause that the police can't use this information to place speed traps?
What if one of the research companies simply dumps the average speed on major roads as a picture or google maps data on the internet. Now what - that picture/google maps information needs a clause saying "If you're a cop, you can't use this information"?

Hence the 'pandering to their audience'. There's pretty much nothing they could actually do to halt the use of information for purposes that their customers aren't too keen on, other than simply not selling the data at all.

Re:Repost (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003130)

Once they release the data to anyone, they might as well assume it can go anywhere.

One has to wonder why TomTom didn't just innovate better or charge more if they wanted more revenue. I say this because I'm pretty confident that most people I know owning TomToms and other GPS devices are under the belief that the data is coming to them, not going to tomtom -- and that they would be pretty offended to know that ANYTHING is being done with their location data.

The notion that businesses think these kinds of practices are even at all acceptable is absurd to me, and makes clearer the reasons why we need extremely powerful consumer protection laws that actually have teeth. I would prefer we had a consumer protection against any of this kind of activity and that 1) TomTom never did this, or 2) is going bankrupt thanks to fines and its heads facing 5-10 in prison for permitting it.

Re:Repost (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002674)

Not a repost. They just sold it twice.

Re:Repost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003004)

Would that make it TomTomTomTom?

Re:Repost (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003224)

And last week we also knew that TomTom didn't *sell* the info *to the police* they sold it to a traffic consulting business who sold their services to the police department and used TomTom data.

Since then TomTom has promised to forbid that in their licensing.

most speed traps are cash cows and not about safet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002286)

most speed traps are cash cows and not about safety and can make stuff unsafe.Just Try to drive the tri state tollway at 55 to see how unsafe that is.

Re:most speed traps are cash cows and not about sa (4, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003162)

This argument is essentially "it isn't safe for me to drive at 55 when everyone else is moving at 75". It isn't unsafe because of the law or because the specified maximum speed is 55, it is unsafe because everyone else is breaking the law. That argument can be countered with the standard school teacher response of "if everyone else put their head in fire, would you?". If everyone is breaking the law then by all means charge everyone for it. If you think the speed limit set by law is wrong campaign to have it lifter rather than just ignoring it and breaking the law. The speed cameras would not be "cash cows" if people didn't routinely ignore the speed limits.

Speed limits are not only set for safety in some places. Studies have shown that most road systems, once above a certain % of their carrying capacity, are most efficient (both in terms of average journey time for those taking part in the system and in terms of fuel efficiency) when the maximum speed is set to a value most people would find surprisingly low. This is mainly due to the fact it means people keep a more constant speed, with far less accelerating simply because the speed limit is higher then having to slow down again at the next obstruction (lights, slower moving traffic ahead, turning off into a slower road). Without this constant speed variation in individual vehicles less fuel would be used and there would be less "bunching" which can cause havoc with road system efficiency (meaning average journey times, and fuel waste, rise). Of course for optimum efficiency the speed limit would need to be more dynamic than the current fixed limits, rising on straight stretches at times when the roads are clear to traffic can move freely and safely+efficiently at a higher pace - but would require significant infrastructure investment to implement so may be a pretty bad optimisation in short/medium term.

The debate about speed cameras in high speed areas is interesting. If they were just there for the safety aspect then there may be a case for their being less of them, but there is also a case for speed limits being lower for efficiency reasons in many areas and there would be no way to implement that without the cameras to keep an eye on people.

One place where I would like to see *more* cameras (perhaps moving some of those that are currently monitoring high-speed areas?) is in slower zones where the issue is very much safety. I expect that cameras policing the 15 and 20mph zones near schools, parks, and other quiet residential areas would draw in less cash but would make more of an impact in terms of lives saved and injuries lessened. I've often seen people shoot past a local school here at far more than the posted (but not enforced, aside from the very occasional bobby with a radar gun) 20mph limit - when I had my motor bike I would sometimes be in that flow of traffic and be getting bibbed by the idiot behind me because I was moving at 20ish rather than the 30+ he thought more appropriate. The really irritating thing is that some of the people speeding were speeding away after dropping off their kids at the school (I'm sure they'd complain pretty indignantly if one day their snotty little sprog was skittled by a car or bike that was moving faster than the limit). An efficiency issue would be addressed by this too: all to often you see people putting their foot down at one end of a short street only to slam on the breaks at the other end before they turn, which is probably more wasteful than pushing up from 55 to 75 and back down again.

Already resolved too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002288)

Tom Tom has changed their policy and data will not be given to the cops anymore.

Re:Already resolved too (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002454)

Until the next quarterly profit drop....

Make our own (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002290)

http://www.openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com]
http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

Anything else?

Re:Make our own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002380)

openstreetmap.org is apparently incompatible with Firefox 4. My options say that javascript is enabled, but openstreetmap is telling me that I need to enable javascript to use the site. This is not the first site to exhibit this behaviour; a handful of others do so as well. :\

Re:Make our own (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002448)

Works fine for me in FF 4, and tbh I can't recall seeing that in behavior in years. You might want to check your options again.

They did this in Germany, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002328)

In cooperation with a company that builds and leases speed traps, and has a full support package for the cities and counties it serves by identifying roads to make a buck off^w^w^w^w^w that could be made safer.

The best place to put speed traps? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002378)

Don't the police already have accident reports? Why do they need more information?

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002438)

1. Places where there are many accidents are not always places where people drive fast.
2. Set traps where people are driving fast.
3. Profit.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002478)

Don't the police already have accident reports? Why do they need more information?

Accident reports would be a great indicator if all they were looking for was preventing accidents. It wouldn't cover everything, but when the concern is public safety it's definitely a great metric.

The skeptic in me has to mention that, while I can't speak for Europe, I know that some towns in the US really rely on income generated from tickets and fines. In which case they would want to place traps in places more likely to catch offenders.

Putting aside my skepticism, it's still an OK metric. Most places would like to reduce speeding in general; all it takes is one careless driver and/or one careless pedestrian and you have an accident. The mortality rates go way way up when you get hit at 40MpH instead of 25MpH.

So if this residential area has a lot of heavy speeding, then it's probably good to put the fear of the police into the drivers.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002720)

On the freeway were I see most speed traps going 65 instead of 55 is not going to impact mortality a whole lot.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003384)

I understand your point, and if you're talking about one person hitting a brick wall at 55 mph versus 65 mph, I agree there's no real difference in outcome. But the crash is unlikely to happen in isolation. And the energy involved is proportional to velocity squared. There's nearly 40% more energy involved in the 65 mph crash (where 65 mph is the relative difference in velocities between the colliding objects). At 75 mph it's 86% more energy. That is energy that needs to be dissipated by breaking, crumple zones, other cars, etc. The potential for destruction goes up quickly.

I'm not saying that safety should be our only concern. But at the same time we can't say that an extra 10 mph has no impact.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (3, Interesting)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002736)

I know that some towns in the US really rely on income generated from tickets and fines. In which case they would want to place traps in places more likely to catch offenders

That is a large part of the problem right there. A lot of these towns love to use speed limits that jump up and down. There is a stretch of highway not far from me that goes from 55 to 25 to 35 to 25 to 35 to 45 all within about a mile stretch. Its blatant that its purpose is solely to catch drivers unfamiliar to the area. (Speeds in MPH)

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002758)

My bad, just checked google maps, its about a 2 mile stretch. Still quite alot of speed changes.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003228)

Let's see... come into town right at the elementary school, get out of the school zone for a little while, then go by the high school, then head into a less-dense area of town, then leave it. Sounds like a lot of small towns, including my hometown. Write the city council and complain about the inconsistent limits. Ask for that middle 35 section to be lowered to 25 to benefit drivers.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003378)

Not a single school zone on that stretch of road.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002488)

Accident reports are only good for determining where the combination of speed + road conditions are a hazard. They aren't good at finding long stretches of good road surface, with lower traffic volumes and good sight lines that allow very good drivers to shave several minutes off their commute by driving well over the posted speed limit.

i.e. traffic report mining doesn't generate additional precinct income through additional high-value speeding tickets.

This is a cash grab.

Re:The best place to put speed traps? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003124)

The "best" places for speed traps, according to the Dutch police, are not dangerous spots but the spots that generate the most revenue. For example, a dual carriageway that looks like one where 80km/h is the norm, is safe for and built for 80, but actually has a limit of 50km/h because it happens to be in the (poorly signposted) city limits.

A typical example: cops expressed shock that over 90% of drivers passing a speed trap were exceeding the speed limit, which was reduced because of road works. They kept writing tickets for a few days... and none of them stopped to think if perhaps the lower speed limit wasn't very clear, and if perhaps they should instead do something to slow oncoming traffic and make things safer for the construction workers. Nope, just keep that camera busy!

Everyone is doing it ... (1)

applematt84 (1135009) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002436)

It seems that everyone is collecting GPS information. What next? We'll find out that Windows machines are actually phoning home and Androids are plotting the death of humans?

Lame excuse - improving traffic safety (1)

u19925 (613350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002444)

If the purpose is to improve traffic safety, then TomTom does not need to provide real time data. They can provide one week delayed data. I don't think TomTom folks are that stupid not to know that the real time feed would allow cops to put speed trap. If a lawsuit is filed and internal emails are obtained, it would reveal the truth (but only if is done soon enough before they destroy the emails).

Re:Lame excuse - improving traffic safety (1)

AntiNazi (844331) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002746)

I seriously doubt this is a real time feed. I didn't get that impression anyway. 1. Buy GPS data. 2. Place speed camera where you already know a huge amount of people regularly speed based on historic GPS data you recently purchased. 3. ??? 4. Profit As if there was anyone left that didn't understand yet that the traffic cops' primary job is revenue collection rather than traffic safety this ought to help pound it through their skull.

Re:Lame excuse - improving traffic safety (1)

jsvendsen (1668031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002794)

I could be missing something, but I don't think anyone has mentioned the data being provided as a real time feed. If I were to guess I would think that the 'delay' was much longer than a week, but probably covered a considerable duration of time.

The cops probably care less about where someone is speeding right now, and more about where and when the incidence of speed limit violations are the greatest.

Statutory laws define TRAFFIC as commerce. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002870)

"All Roads are Open as a Matter of Right to Public Vehicular Travel" -google that one: we don't need licenses, and if you do then it's the regulative authority that moves you into their crooked Municipal courts rather than the people redressing damages in the county Court.

Traffic as defined in the Statutes for every country varry with minute detail, yet they all have one criteria Uniform to their perview of jurisprudence given to trustees (officers): traffic is the sum movement of commerce for any motor vehicle transporting cargo and passengers for "hire, compensation, or profit." They aren't even referencing auto-mobiles because that is plain language, but referencing to re-define two words "motor" and "vehicle" into a regulated TERM of a private contract (license) "motor vehicle" for licentiousness behavior on the road (doing something otherwise unlawful so-regulated: selling on the road from a car rather than traveling).

That is all.

If you think about it, the only obligation anyone has to abide by the ARTIFICIAL (legislated) "speed limits" is that privilege from that private company who's license is being used to move someone else's or their property under their regulative body and authority to improve the commercial viability of that action. Actual speed limits are true environmental road conditions and ability of the helmsman or captain to match the travel to the Rate of agressing one's right of way: damages go through county Court, not a regulative body of punitive persuasion in Municipal jurisdictions that bypass the remedies of law.

The main problem of interpretation is that the trustees foisting public into these private contracts (license) are exploiting the defective language displine of the people at large: when someone asks if you are "driving", then we need to comprehend that Modern language differed from the era and style of law for which arose all the mis-interpretation of disputes. To be asked if you are "driving" something or are a driver, you are in-effect being referenced to identify yourself as engauged to that private contract that gave grant of regulation and for what subject matter: these so-called highwaymen and police/COPS are so-crooked even if they don't know but eventually will know time and time again because they will keep this faulty anti-country interpretation for sake of revenue stream: I am not driving this car, but directing the movement as my Right to Public Vehicular Travel.

The only people that drive a car, are the same that drive cattle: they are moving property in their care of commerce to either sell on the road or elsewhere. If ever another of many definitions, "drive" doesn't even correspond to natural combustion engines but as a word of art to be religiosuly determined in context by the legislature. That's how tricky these definitions become, and so every court will presume obeisance to these private contracts until a Writ of Quo-Warranto is presented to call-forth the assigned non-existant or self-reserved regulative body (might be you, or might be them).

Governors are all Pro-Statute perverts: remember that they do anything for more money, so be warned.

Re:Lame excuse - improving traffic safety (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002954)

The true reason TomTom is because they were not expecting more efficient speed traps, just retroactive speeding tickets based on the included personal information that was tied up to your driving logs.

There's no difference. (3, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002456)

The company claims they assumed that the data would be used to improve traffic safety and road engineering, and were shocked, shocked to discover that instead the police used it to figure out the best places to put speed traps.

Well duh. Those two phrases mean exactly the same thing in the newspeak.

Re:There's no difference. (1)

seanmcelroy (207852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002518)

Despite the egregious lack of corporate responsibility, perhaps there could be some useful application of the data for traffic safety and road engineering.. for instance, if traffic engineers can see what roads are congested which have too low of a speed limit imposed, they could propose raising them? A pipe dream, but I have to believe someone looking to optimize traffic flows would consider the design upside as well as the police simply considering how to generate revenue.

Re:There's no difference. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002650)

Despite the egregious lack of corporate responsibility, perhaps there could be some useful application of the data for traffic safety and road engineering.. for instance, if traffic engineers can see what roads are congested which have too low of a speed limit imposed, they could propose raising them? A pipe dream, but I have to believe someone looking to optimize traffic flows would consider the design upside as well as the police simply considering how to generate revenue.

What's in that pipe you used for dreamin'?
The most probable behavior is for the cops to lower the speed limits on other roads and install some new speed traps there.

Re:There's no difference. (1)

u19925 (613350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002678)

Why do you need real time info for traffic safety?

Re:There's no difference. (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002968)

Yea, I mean, since when does the police take any part in road engineering?

I've Got A Better Idea: +4, Plusgood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002536)

Auction the data on Identity Information Auction: Ebay [ebay.com]

Have a day.

Yours In Miami,
K. Trout, C.I.O.

Dat is een stom idee (0)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002572)

(Google Translate) Dat is een stom idee!

Stale (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002574)

This stale story is days old by now.

Greedisgood (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002584)

For all those devil's advocates out there that think it's still possible for the police to have ambivalent intentions behind this action...

Keep in mind that to actually do the most good, all they really need to do is look at locations of most accidents in previous years, and regulate driving upstream of that. It's just that of-course the cause of these accidents might be attributable to road conditions and not necessarily excessive speed.

The fact that they're paying money for this data of guaranteed speeders, rather than utilizing what's probably very well-compiled (by themselves!) and freely available information is very much so the investment in "6.???" before "7. Profit!"

Re:Greedisgood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002702)

We had a story in the local newspaper a month ago about how our traffic cops' work performance was judged by the amount of tickets they gave out. Cops not fulfilling a quota were considered underperforming.

Oh come on (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002634)

Are they really that clueless? You would think that if they were that thick, they wouldn't be able to hold on to their market. Every dick and harry (not tom :) would be able to produce devices that rendered theirs obsolete, over priced and under featured.

Re:Oh come on (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003030)

TomTom is actually a vendor that could be replaced pretty easily. From what I understand, they really don't do much to the raw data that the get from either their own map source data or other vendors that they incorporate into their units.

Garmin, on the other hand, does considerable tailoring of the data to the GPS device and the GPS application. You can easily spot the difference with any unit when comparing to a Garmin. If it tells you frequently to "keep left" or "stay on the road" then it is using pretty raw data. Having worked for the company that is now Navteq it is fairly easy to spot occurrances in the data that need to be smoothed out but most systems aren't doing. Garmin does and it greatly improves the usability of their systems.

TomTom as well as most of the built-in systems are junk compared to a Garmin. I have a BMW with navigation and while it will eventually get you where you are going, it doesn't do a great job. My wife has an Enclave with navigation that is awful with plenty of "stay on the road" messages. We stick the Garmin up and use it in preference to either built-in system. Most Garmins can also accept red-light and speed camera data from other sources.

Re:Oh come on (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003112)

You can easily spot the difference with any unit when comparing to a Garmin. If it tells you frequently to "keep left" or "stay on the road" then it is using pretty raw data.

I've had a Garmin insist that I was on the outer road for several miles after I missed my exit, so I'd take that with a grain of salt. More likely they're just making it less picky about whether you're actually on the road it thinks you're on.

Unlike Tom Tom (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002640)

I am both shocked AND dismayed

In Soviet... (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002664)

In Soviet Slashdot, articles are posts dupes of you!

Why is this bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36002692)

I haven't read TFA. But I but I assume the "best" places are where people are speeding? Why is it bad to reduce speeding in those places? If someone sold my data directly to the police and the police automaticlly sent me a ticket every time I was speeding (yes, it happens even if usually not by much) I would be outraged, but this? I don't see the problem.

The best place to put speed traps (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36002714)

is at every citizen's house as we all know that accidents happen closest to home. Problem solved!

Re:The best place to put speed traps (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003216)

It is well-known that most accidents happen with fifteen miles of the bathroom.

Law, Speed limits, and Engineers (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003120)

I recently picked up a new client who needed a fair amount of work done to their small network/computers. The location thou is about as far as I advertise my services and had they not needed all the work that they do I would have likely referred them to someone more local. As my profits would not have been worth it with the current gas prices even with my decently efficient vehicle.

So in driving out there so often I have noticed how often the speed limits will change in even just a few miles. Going from 45 to 35 then back up to 45 then to 40 then...you get the idea. It's a freaking nightmare for a number of reasons:

- The police in the area seem pretty well disposed to enforce speed limits and know EXACTLY where the best spots are where say the limit goes from 45 to 35. I've seen them working in teams on an intersection where you turn off a 45mph road onto a road where the limit is 35 [b]for no more than an 1/8 of a mile![/b] (Then of course it goes right back up to 45.)

- Trying to follow this yo/yoing of speed limits only makes it that much harder to drive around as there are plenty of people who just don't care that much. Doing the speed limit in slow lane has netted me dirty looks.

- Can't just set my cruse control and just go even when I'm going to be going straight for a fairly long stretch because for whatever reason because doing 45 clearly is so dangerous at some point in that stretch that I need to be only doing 40 for a few blocks.

As such I've been starting to ponder as I make these drives who the hell is doing this to us? Is it law enforcement or civil engineers who are saying that that 5mph for a few blocks is a good idea? The best answer I've come up with in my head is it's likely a clusterfuck of law enforcement, civil engineers, and politics. Very depressing.

Re:Law, Speed limits, and Engineers (1)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003414)

As such I've been starting to ponder as I make these drives who the hell is doing this to us? Is it law enforcement or civil engineers who are saying that that 5mph for a few blocks is a good idea?

There are some places in northern New Jersey where the speed limit changes every few blocks because you are changing municipalities and each little town sets its own speed limit. It is incredibly annoying for all the reasons you mentioned.

speeds traps DO improve safety! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003132)

"they assumed that the data would be used to improve traffic safety and road engineering, and were shocked, shocked to discover that instead the police used it to figure out the best places to put speed traps."

ummmm, speed traps DO improve safety!!! Excessive speed is a major cause of collisions and severity of injury is proportional to speed also.

Re:speeds traps DO improve safety! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36003310)

Lack of attention when driving is a cause, speed is a mere catalyst.

Is this how they caught bin Laden? (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003144)

Did his Tom Tom rat him out or did his iPhone's location tracking identify him?

GPS not needed to identify areas (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003294)

Any officer or city official in plain clothes who travels to and from any location and takes different routes and clearly identify where hot spots are for speed traps. The reality is that once GPS data is turned over there a database may be compiled following the path of any unidentified subject and begin to pinpoint common begin and end points. Eventually, they will use such data in a court of law as a matter of historical record.

Defendant: "Your honor, I submit was not speeding, here's my GPS proof."
Prosecutor: "Since the defendant is submitting their GPS data, we would like to submit the defendant's historical GPS data on the signal identifier, which shows that the defendant habitually passes through said area in speeds in excess of x mph."
Manufacturer of GPS devices Term of Agreement....by using this item you are agreeing to be tracked by law enforcement...

While this not be the case yet, I am predicting that this is how the data will be used eventually.

They should pay contributors for speed information (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003314)

WikiSPEEDia also sells your information, however they give you the money.

For example, in 2010, everyone who submitted information got a check for $20.
WikiSPEEDia, the open speed limit database. [wikispeedia.org]

So what??? (1)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003370)

What is wrong with police putting speed traps where people are speeding?
And why is it a problem that they get aggregate speed information from any available source?

Re:So what??? (2)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36003606)

People have a problem with this method of collecting data because people did not (at least knowingly) agree to have Tom Tom store data on where they traveled and when and how fast and then sell it. I believe they are right to expect that the company not do that. Sure, it's probably buried in some ToS or the like somewhere, but I'm firmly on the "shit buried 20 pages deep in fine print legalese is not a fair warning or agreement" side of the fence.

As to the speed traps themselves, an argument could be (and has been) made that they are not terribly helpful and are just the city/county/state trying to collect money off of a relatively easy target rather than preventing real crime or making the roads noticeably safer. For the most part, I agree with that as well. Want to make my roads safer? Put a cop where lanes come to an end and pull over those assholes who rush past everyone in the lane ending and cut someone off at the last minute. That will make my trip safer than pulling over someone driving 75 or even 85 or 95 mph in a 65 or 70mph zone, staying in their own lane. Hell, pull people over who are going too slow and causing traffic to slow down unexpectedly and build up. I've seen more dangerous situations caused by them than by people going too fast.

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