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London Hacked Its Own Traffic Lights To Make Sure It Got the Olympics

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the much-less-inspiring-than-vangelis'-music dept.

Government 202

bmsleight writes "Does it count as a hack if you change your own system? Vanity Fair report that during the bidding process for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the London Streets Traffic Control Center followed each vehicle using CCTV, 'and when they came up to traffic lights,' [bid committee CEO Keith] Mills said, 'we turned them green.'"

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Reminds me of the Italian Job (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985703)

...except without all the crashes and explosions and mini-coopers with gold bricks in them.

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985915)

They are talking about the "bidding process". What makes you think there where no mini-coopers with gold bricks involved?

But personally, i'd prefer a mini-cooper with a Charlise over the gold bricks anyway...

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (2)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986975)

But personally, i'd prefer a mini-cooper with a Charlise over the gold bricks anyway...

What if someone had made this choice 50 years ago?

  1. Looks of a female star [izismile.com]
  2. Price of Gold [freeby50.com]

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987443)

Actually all the other countries must be laughing. They are not the ones tipping billions down the toilet now.

On the other hand (-1, Flamebait)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985971)

It's cheaper to get them through traffic jams, rather than bribing them with expensive gifts like in Salt Lake city (and some of those silly Americans want Mitt to be President)

Re:On the other hand (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986035)

Yeah, because Obama's name hasn't been attached to bribery or anything...

[/rolling of eyes]

Re:On the other hand (1, Funny)

herrnova (2534538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986167)

Do you have any sources that are not fox news to back that up?

Re:On the other hand (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986193)

Sources that aren't fox news made Obama into their candidate. Why would they report that?

Re:On the other hand (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986227)

So? Its a simple fact that politics across the globe is so fucked up that you can't get anywhere without being corrupt and in the pocket of some well funded group.
Every person who takes that office will end up screwing you so pointing out "look hes the same as everyone else" is just a waste of time. Why blame the pieces when the rules of the game are broken?

Re:On the other hand (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987069)

Because emphasizing specific individual pieces allows one to feel like the flaw doesn't go down to the core of the system. They can then feel better about interacting with it; they feel their participation is worthwhile. They feel like they have some control. It is an emotional defense of sorts.

Re:On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987129)

Not Obama himself but the moocher who got into University on an AA ticket and could not handle working in a law firm which she left and eventually arrived at the University of Chicago Hospitals where she was paid to pretend to work like at TreeHouse Foods.

Re:On the other hand (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986039)

Who said they couldn't do both?

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (4, Insightful)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986025)

(Article Submitter)
The person who wrote the first Italian Job got the idea from London's first traffic control system.

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (4, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986127)

The first traffic lights in the world were on Downing St. They were gas powered and later exploded, killing a police officer.

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (2)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986181)

But the _Houses_Of_Parliament_ signals were stand alone. Just working at that junction.

The first traffic control system - were the signal were co-ordinated in London was ~1960s

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986955)

"The first traffic lights in the world were on Downing St. They were gas powered ..."

Same as the non-traffic lights.

Re:Reminds me of the Italian Job (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986065)

All we've got are Mini-Coopers with regular old bricks in 'em.

standard operating procedure (5, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985719)

Every Olympic bid since Sydney's bid for the 2000 games has done the same. This isn't anything new.

Good reason not to go there... (4, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985721)

Last thing any sane person would want is being constantly followed. Now we know the Brits are willing to do this if they think they can get something out of it. So far for privacy. Oh and next time you're in the car with your pregnant wife trying to get to an hospital but can't because the lights are red... Well, the police chief is probably on his way home and needed the lights to be green...

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985731)

I whole-heartedly agree. Anyone who thinks like this should not visit the UK, we have enough tin-foil hatted nutters of our own.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985757)

I whole-heartedly agree. Anyone who thinks like this should not visit the UK, we have enough tin-foil hatted nutters of our own.

lol c'mon now, didn't your mother teach you to share? We've got more than we know what to do with here in the US....

I do have to agree with the parent to a rather limited extent. It's certainly not ethical, and could be argued as fraud since you're not demonstrating the normal operation of the traffic grid. OTOH, if they know you're doing it, and/or demonstrating how this feature could be used for emergency response teams, then I don't have any real issues with it.

tl;dr - it's all in the marketing.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985897)

You assume people in the EU are sane. They welcome big brother.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986017)

No, You're confusing the UK for the EU, please list one thing the EU has done that smacks of big brother, and no the EU data retention directive doesn't count (Tony BLiar was responsible for that one!) They have rejected ACTA too! The very law that your dumbass president signed! go figure!

Re:Good reason not to go there... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986387)

We're going to do this again?

I've been lucky enough to do a fair amount of traveling, to nations wealthy and poor. I've sat through little chats with foreign ambassadors, members of parliament, UN representatives, and local political leaders on a few continents (no, I'm nobody special). I've lived with families in four countries with dramatically different ways of life, sleeping in their homes, eating breakfast with them, going grocery shopping, playing soccer, taking the goats out or hanging laundry in old soviet apartment housing... whatever.

But if my fortunate little opportunities taught me only one thing, it's that we're all only human. And by extension, that there's a strikingly even distribution of clever people and total herp-derp, everywhere.* Also that it's strangely comforting to know that, for all the differences we celebrate or fight over, everyone has a neighbor that's a jackass.

* It's worth admitting that none of those countries were tied up in violent civil war, open slave trade, eugenics, etc. while I was there. I'm sure that'd change my opinion of humankind for the worse.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986471)

Excellent point. But this:

everyone has a neighbor that's a jackass.

did remind me of that old joke. "Everyone has a neighbor who's a jackass. So, look around. Are any of your neighbors jackasses? If not, then you're it!" :D

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987161)

One thing the EU has done that smacks of big brother? How about the EU itself? Seriously, while I don't follow every bit of legislation, policy and ruling the EU makes, there isn't a single thing about it that I have heard of that is contrary to that quality. Its very nature is big brother. But to give you an specific answer to your question, the most obvious example by far to me(because it is in my area of study) is its monopoly controlled currency, the euro.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987695)

What you just described, is exactly the same with the USA.
Point invalidated.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985953)

Brits? As in we, the people? Do you honestly think we asked to be spied upon? Protip: Nobody here really gives a crap about the Olympic games. It's been made a mockery of all over the media for wasting public money and for the fact that we're hosting the events and nobody actually knows anybody else that's allowed to go. It's going to cause mass disruption to the transport systems for millions of commuters, not to mention the mess the visitors themselves are going to make, and it's also predicited that the majority of new buildings and structures being created for this joke of an event will go to waste as soon as it's over.

So I ask you again... do you truly believe that the British public volunteered to be spied on, just to increase the odds of having this happen to them? If you're talking specifically about the government, please say so, but I can guarantee ours isn't that much different to anyone elses.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (4, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986007)

Neh you are right, it's just that we are being told by our personal overlords "yes but in the UK they also have cctv and it's working great". But in no way did I mean the average Brit. I like those!

Re:Good reason not to go there... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987477)

That's true. However, given the chance to change the political system from a two party flip flop and the mass of the people didn't want more choice. After rejecting that opportunity I think Britain doesn't have any hope anymore.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (1)

ragefan (267937) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986069)

The police don't bother with the central traffic control, they just flip their lights on to make all the lights turn green for them.

I figure it means Krispy Kreme just turned on their sign.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986255)

So "far" for privacy? What kind of idiom is that?

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

ciotog (1098035) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986533)

You take your wives to government controlled hospitals to give birth? You're part of the problem...

Re:Good reason not to go there... (5, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987039)

Americans that never venture out of America tend to think a free national health service is a terrible thought. Americans that actually come and live in Britain tend to realise quite quickly how good it is and come to love the NHS like the natives do.

It's the difference between ignorant and worldly wise.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987803)

Americans that never venture out of America tend to think a free national health service is a terrible thought. Americans that actually come and live in Britain tend to realize quite quickly how good it is and come to love the NHS like the natives do.

It's the difference between ignorant and worldly wise.

Or, it's the difference between wishing to be a self-reliant human being or being tended to by the nanny state from cradle to grave.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986907)

Women have had baby every where. Apart from my concern about stains on the leather, I can't see your point.

Re:Good reason not to go there... (0)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987623)

Come on, citizen.
You say that like if you really believe that when governments have authority, they abuse it.

NOTHING we've seen in the past indicates that.

Your IP address has been logged, we are currently rifling through ALL your past history (browsing, texts, phone-calls) and when we finally have ANYTHING to impugn you with, we'll arrest you.

In the meantime, enjoy being blackballed.

Hang all that, we'll just disappear you in the middle of the night.

Using CCTV (5, Interesting)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985749)

using CCTV to change traffic lights (apart from showing just how widespread the coverage in London is) is almost minor compared to some of the other bid stunts - they took the motorcade through the (at that time, not yet opened) railway tunnels from St Pancras to Stratford, as if to demonstrate how easy it was to get to the Olympic site - provided you didn't see any of that "get in the way" stuff. Like the city...

Re:Using CCTV (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986011)

Overt use of power is less frightening than unchecked covert abuse of surveillance equipment.

Re:Using CCTV (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986503)

Didn't I read a year or two ago that UK was planning to put cameras at every intersection everywhere in the country? If so, I would say that certainly meets the 'unchecked' part, if not the 'covert' part. While at present most of those cameras are probably not being 'looked through', if it's everywhere it's just as frightening as if it's hidden. A major characteristic of dictatorships and police states everywhere is that one never knows if someone is watching and listening.

Re:Using CCTV (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987099)

Didn't I read a year or two ago that UK was planning to put cameras at every intersection everywhere in the country?

If you did, it must have been somewhere like The Onion. More probably you misremembered. Every motorway intersection, perhaps.

Re:Using CCTV (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987287)

MAGINOT BLUE STARS is really moving faster then expected. It is 2012, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is right on schedule.

(been reading way too much Charlie Stross)

Re:Using CCTV (5, Interesting)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986277)

The bit that gets me riled is that to even be permitted to bid we had to create legislation protecting the commercial interests of the little jamboree we are funding this year.

Since I learned that I went from keeping my disinterest to myself and just not paying any attention to the proceedings to actively telling people that fact (people tend to either be shocked or simply refuse to believe it) and making sure I know who the sponsors are (aside from us tax payers that it) so when I have a choice between two products I pick the one that isn't involved in the thing.

(Petty, yes, but in the absence of decent victories to speak of I enjoy my petty little stabs.)

Re:Using CCTV (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987077)

Odd that that quite long exposé of the bid didn't mention it. Do you have a citation?

Re:Using CCTV (2)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987797)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/photo_galleries/4252721.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Olympics 2012 bid: London visit

Picture 5:
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40841000/jpg/_40841379_oly_tunnell300.jpg [bbc.co.uk]

Day two: The team pass through the tunnel that will link Kings Cross and Stratford when the Channel Tunnel link is complete

It's not "hacking". (5, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985755)

It's "Potemkin village".

Still better than (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985783)

closing down the whole street for the convoy.

Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (3, Interesting)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985785)

It was really difficult to find which cars they allowed through in Vanity Fair for those who don't feel like reading the rest of the article about the most boring subjects on the planet: olympic sports, and London

"Near the end of the application process, an I.O.C. evaluation committee was permitted to visit London. Bid-committee officials knew that London’s transportation system was a weak spot on the city’s application. “Our nightmare was it would take forever to get to the venues,” Mills recalled. A bid-committee team planned the routes that I.O.C. members would travel around the city, and G.P.S. transmitters were planted in all of the I.O.C. members’ vehicles so they could be tracked. From the London Traffic Control Center, near Victoria Station, where hundreds of monitors display live feeds from London’s comprehensive CCTV surveillance system, each vehicle was followed, from camera to camera, “and when they came up to traffic lights,” Mills said, “we turned them green.”

Re:Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (3, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986315)

Pick one.

A. During the Olympics, traffic will be a nightmare
B. During the Olympics, all traffic lights will be green
C. Both A and B

Re:Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986767)

D. The Olympics is a nightmare.

It starts soon after your city has won their bid to host. It sucks the soul out of local culture, as all sponsors start saving up for the event. It makes people super greedy as they think everybody will become mega-rich off the Olympics. It sucks the money out of the city and the country to put into "security..." And after the event, you keep on paying for all those new venues that have little use outside the Olympics, for many many years until they fall apart from disuse.

If your city wins the bid to host the Olympics, my advice: Move Out.

Re:Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986819)

Or you could just not take your car. Use a bus (they have dedicated lanes). Use the tube (they have dedicated lines!)

Re:Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (4, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987169)

It's...

D. Traffic for Londoners and visitors will be a nightmare. But olympic athletes, officials and VIPS have designated lanes all over London that will be kept free for them to get around quickly.

Fines for using these lanes without a permit are £200. Even for cyclists - which will be interesting, as London cyclists mostly disregard traffic laws and ordinarily are not dealt with.

Re:Congestion nightmare without hacking it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987411)

Yeah. Very difficult to search for the word "green". First hit.

Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985793)

The IOC may be the most powerful commercial venture in the world. Or do Apple and Google have enough pull to subvert local traffic laws too? Scary stuff and it needs to be put a stop to before it goes any further. This is way out of control.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985887)

According to the summary, it was London that altered the lights, not the IOC.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985981)

According to the summary, it was London that altered the lights, not the IOC.

Yes... they did it for the IOC.

I don't think I'm one of the more rabidly anti-commerce people and I'm okay with, for example, giving tax breaks to attract companies. This sort of crap though goes way over the line.

Re:Scary (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986049)

technically Transport for London..

Re:Scary (3, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986321)

Changing traffic lights is small fry. To even be permitted bid, potential host countries must enact laws to protect the commercial interests of the Olympics. I find it quite distasteful that we are paying billions (which could be much better used, especially in the current economic climate) to host their little jamboree and we bent over the barrel and let us dictate tweaks to part of our legal system.

Big companies like Apple and Google can do similar things of course: governments all over the world tweak employment and tax policies in order to make themselves more attractive ares to invest in, but the difference there is that (IMO at least) the benefits (employment and commercial investment momentum) are likely to hang around for a far longer term.

Can you imagine the marketing possibilities? (2)

cellurl (906920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985799)

Nevada is mulling the concept of paying to drive over the limit.
While I think thats immoral, I can see legislators drooling over the possibility of allowing drivers to pay to get more green lights.

I am not surprised that London had to resort to CCTV to achieve that. (The movie Brazil comes to mind).

Help eliminate speeding tickets [wikispeedia.org]

Re:Can you imagine the marketing possibilities? (5, Funny)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986033)

You can already pay to drive over the limit, it's called a fine :)

Re:Can you imagine the marketing possibilities? (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986329)

This idea would be especially enticing if the price was right. If the fuel savings were to come out to more than the price of admission, I'd buy in!

Just a quick napkin calculation on that . . . morning commute is 20 miles each way, making 40 miles a day, 200 miles a week . . . My fuel economy is 29 MPG at worst case (hit every light and worst traffic) and 38 at best (all green lights and no congestion), so . . . worst case is 200/29 = 6.9 gallons; best is 200/38=5.3 gallons; difference is 1.6 gallons per week, which, at ~3.80/gallon is $6.08/week. If I could get it for, say, $20-25/month, I'd take it.

BACKDOORS: Slippery slope feels so good! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985803)

You'd be surprised how much hardware and software have back doors built into them, much of it legally.

GOOGLE: Cisco routers back doors

and you'll find hours of reading material alone just for one company.

WIKILEAKS: published information on dozens of companies making spyware for hardware and software and selling it to governments.

When is the last time you checked the firmware on your PCI devices and network card?

Your router?

Dumped and checksummed/debugged your BIOS lately?

Why aren't the anti-malware companies like Symantec and others climbing over each other in an effort to invent the technology and utilize it via the cloud to create GIANT databases of checksums for legit firmware for hardware in the fight against the most serious of root kits? Are they in bed with big bro?

How many so called remote exploits were patched this week in Windows? This month? This year? Since its release? Start from the beginning of the Windows version release and count all of the remote exploits up to present day and compare that to OpenBSD for example.

##

U.S. govâ(TM)t wiretapping laws and your network
â" https://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/012307-us-govt-wiretapping-laws-and.html [networkworld.com]

âoeActivists have long grumbled about the privacy implications of the legal âoebackdoorsâ that networking companies like Cisco build into their equipmentâ"functions that let law enforcement quietly track the Internet activities of criminal suspects. Now an IBM researcher has revealed a more serious problem with those backdoors: They donâ(TM)t have particularly strong locks, and consumers are at risk.â
â" http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html [forbes.com]

Re:BACKDOORS: Slippery slope feels so good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985865)

The great thing about capitalism is _you_ could create that cloud app. The reason Symantec et al likely haven't is because there's no demand for it.

All's fair (5, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985807)

I consider this fair play.

fact, this is one of the capabilities that the Olympic Committee should specifically look for. The ability of a city to dynamically change its traffic lights and alter traffic flow to deal with a special situation is an important one in a city hosting an major event like this. It means that if they manage it properly, they can reduce congestion around the site, get atheletes and fans in and out quicker and have a better chance of having everything go on schedule. It's also a safety issue. If there are emergencies (and there always are when you have that many people in one place) you can get emergency vehicles in and out quickly.

London can probably do this better than most cities in the world because of its Big Brother system of pervasive security cameras. The cameras can be used for good, too, if they use them to reduce traffic congestion, detect that the crowd is starting to leave the event so they can begin adapting the traffic flow before people even leave the parking lot, etc.

Re:All's fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985875)

Additionally, I'd like it very much if firemen, the police or high officials could just get the green lights wherever their duty bring them, instead of using their emergency lighting and warning siren, pissing off everybody around and worsening an already congested traffic.

"Hurry Call" in the UK (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986043)

Traffic Signals can be designed this way - it is called priority "Hurry Call" in the UK.

However, it is counter-initiative in that a crash change to the approach where the Emergency vehicle is heading may (for example) cause the middle of the junction to not clear - making it harder/long for the Blue light vehicle to get through and cause more congestion for subsequent emergency vehicles.

Re:"Hurry Call" in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986059)

Remember that in London most roads are one lane, with cars parked on either side, so green lights aren't very helpful. The siren is to tell people to get out of the way.

Re:All's fair (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986269)

Sounds like you're describing the MIRT system that's already in use.

Re:All's fair (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986421)

they have a way to trigger the lights and it's a wireless transmitter on the truck.

Emergencies and little people (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985941)

The little people get to wait for the important people -- like the Olympic committee, or in the future perhaps anyone with enough money -- when the city changes its traffic patterns for them. After all, it is not really equality if the important people have to wait for red lights just like everyone else, right?

As for emergency vehicles, I live in a small city right now that manages to give them green lights without a special CCTV system. Each traffic light has a sensor that detects sirens/flashers and changes the light appropriately; it may sound surprising, but this is actually a reliable, well-engineered system.

We have big events here too -- the college football team's games draw big crowds from neighboring towns. CCTV is not needed for that either; police can simply disable traffic lights at appropriate locations and direct traffic as needed. Perhaps this is more than London could be expected to do, given how large of a city they are, but somehow I doubt it -- they have a much larger police force than we have.

Really, the benefit of the CCTV system for traffic control is overstated here. What London is really showing the world is that when important people are in their city, they can give those people priority as if they were an emergency vehicle, and they can do so discretely. People might complain if police officers started waving through businessmen and politicians, but nobody can complain about the light changing, and there is no need for rich people to attach flashers to their cars.

Re:Emergencies and little people (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985999)

Disrupting traffic flow by manipulating light patterns will simply result in ever increasing levels of failure due to complexity. Once traffic jams occur, a green light has no affect as the road in front beyond the traffic light is blocked by other traffic.

To bias every light in a single individuals simply generates a traffic jam in the perpendicular direction obstructing other individuals. In more rush hour just one car break down at critical points can generate a traffic jam that delays people half an hour, this extended delays generate higher opportunity for break down due to extended idling increasing potential for traffic jams.

If they are going to stay playing games with rush hour traffic to favour the rich, then I for one will stay paying games with five hundred dollars run down old cars and living them at choke points during rush hour whilst I go grab a sanger and a pint and watch the chaos. I'm sure others will join in on the game and create permanent grid lock, hard to tow away a car if the tow truck can't get to it.

Parent is speaking rubbish. (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986075)

Absolute rubbish. Change the "green lights", behind the jam/incident will slow the flow into the congested area. Making it easier to get relieve the congestion. This with the use of VMS, encourages people to take alternative routes. Also upstream from the incident long green times will help traffic get away from the congestion.

Guess what - it is complex, but computer system and good algorithm can handle complexity.

Like China (2)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985975)

Putting thousands of factories off line to turn the sky back to blue. Talk about false advertising!

Re:All's fair (2)

The Raven (30575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987659)

This is only true if they have a system to make systemic alterations like this easy. If it takes a man on the control of every traffic light, it won't work... and from TFA, this was a completely manual and centralized to one person task, so it demonstrates no ability to scale up to managing the lights for the whole city.

Olympics (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985811)

Cancel it, it sucks.

Good Grief Charlie Brown (4, Interesting)

stomv (80392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985837)

1. Giving IOC Observers the lights didn't "Make Sure" that London got the Olympics. A major overstatement to be sure.
2. While London may have used CCTV, it surely wasn't necessary. A few motorcyclists or taxi drivers with mobile phones and headsets could have just as easily kept tabs on the IOC Observers [so could GPS, though perhaps not as accurately as humans].
3. The idea of prioritizing traffic in a network should not be novel to /.ers. Not only do we do it with packets, we already to it on roads. Vehicles with sirens and lights have first priority, and at least in tUSA we give funeral parades second priority. Third priority goes to buses which have TSP [traffic signal prioritization] systems, thereby holding a light green or turning it green when a bus approaches. Last priority: us regular users. Giving a higher priority to IOC Observers might not be a great use of taxpayer dollars or appropriate for fairness, but that's a local political decision and certainly not a novel application of technology.

But hey, the story involves CCTV, traffic lights, and sports which don't always involve a ball or a puck. Perfect fodder for a silly /. article.

Re:Good Grief Charlie Brown (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986073)

They were using a combination of GPS and CCTV. For the Olympics the system is automated, afaik - I'm fairly sure the ability is already there for emergency vehicles to use anyway, so they're probably just giving official Olympic vehicles the same doobie they have.

Re:Good Grief Charlie Brown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986343)

Roadway Neutrality now! First they came for my network packets but I didn't torrent, ...

Firs7 p0st (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985847)

It's not hacking... (2, Insightful)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985877)

It's not hacking...it's optimization.

Re:It's not hacking... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986121)

It's not hacking...it's optimization.

Actually ... it's cheating.

Re:It's not hacking... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986383)

It's not hacking...it's optimization.

Actually ... it's cheating.

well.. apparently such green light hijinx is a necessity for getting the chance to host the olympics. it's sort of a hack/crack/cheat if they told the olympic officials the system was automatic though.

legally I don't get though why one organization at bidding stage should get such favorites - who would I need to call to get in on the action? - though but they're moving the army for the thing too so..

Re:It's not hacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986439)

It's no hacking period. It's manual override which was presumably designed in. So from the traffic light system point of view it's not hacking at all.

The Zil Lanes are a repression too far (3, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985911)

250 miles of (arguably) the most congested roads in the world being zoned off for use of executives of BMW and McDonalds could finally trigger mass civil disobedience on a scale that's simply too big to suppress. CCTV might ensure that all 'crimes' are detected, but whether they can be punished is another question.

U.S. Army Wants Keylogging Software... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39985979)

U.S. Army Wants Keylogging Software to Help Prevent a Second Cablegate

- https://www.securityweek.com/us-army-wants-keylogging-software-help-prevent-second-cablegate [securityweek.com]

The full story and additional reporting on DARPA research into the matter is available from the Army Times:

- http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/05/army-wants-to-monitor-your-computer-050512w/ [armytimes.com]

Subliminal Positive? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986015)

Transparent attempts to win people over are filtered by the cognitive part of the brain through the motive filter. Seemingly random positive results may bypass this critical filter to heighten mood and induce pleasure rather seductively.

Someone's gotta be thinking this... (1, Troll)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986135)

Since nobody's yet posted the comment (or it's below my viewing threshold):

Premise: The International Olympic Committee's job/duty during the selection process is (at least officially) to make sure a place will be decent for those going to see the Olympics to stay and travel in. Also, it's supposed to check for logistical concerns relative to safety, access to venues, etc. A place that's not suitable is to be rejected, and a more/the most suitable place chosen.

Premise: Allowing bidders to "rig" a showing in such a way as hinders the IOC from properly assessing the above factors is problematic in fulfilling the purpose of the above selection requirements, and is therefore so undesirable as to preclude decent selection, short of basically random chance.

Premise: Bribery, "cheating," and other unethical acts are considered highly undesirable for any worthwhile organization to espouse or allow. An organization that systematically accepts and encourages such acts is not, in its present form, a worthwhile organization.

Premise: Britain has just admitted to such unethical acts as above, and the IOC isn't doing anything about it. It's also noted that the IOC's contract includes many terms and practices that are unethical and/or illegal under international law, and the laws of many nations, individually (including requirements about printing currency; forcing applicants to sign a binding contract to do a ton of expensive stuff before they're actually given anything; etc.).

Conclusion: The IOC is not a worthwhile organization (in its present form), and it does not fulfill at least some of the important (presumed official) purposes of that organization.

Conclusion: The continuation of this organization (in its current form) results from something entirely separate from its utility at fulfilling the sensible goals mentioned above, and almost certainly has something to do with the unethical practices being espoused.

Have I missed anything?

Re:Someone's gotta be thinking this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986215)

Yes. You missed that the British government is not a worthwhile organization (in its present form) and it does not fulfill at least some of the important (presumed official) purposes of that organization.

There are two evil parties here, the IOC, and the British government. In the interest of consistencty, you should have called them both out, not just one.

Were they driving BMWs? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986165)

They must have been driving BMWs, they always have green lights - or their driver behaves like they had.

Nice to know (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986219)

A: Traffic system can be hacked (from inside but these days how hard could it be?)
B: CCTV can be used to track cars and most likely people
C: CCTV solves and/or prevents almost 0 crime (See Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed-circuit_television [wikipedia.org]
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/united-kingdom/090328/living-under-the-cctv-gaze [globalpost.com]

Re:Nice to know (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987373)

C: CCTV solves and/or prevents almost 0 crime (See Wiki)

Yes, I did. It confirms that your claim is wrong. And indeed we see stories everyday of crimes that have been solved by CCTV footage.

"A more recent analysis by Northeastern University and the University of Cambridge, "Public Area CCTV and Crime Prevention: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," examined 44 different studies that collectively surveyed areas from the United Kingdom to U.S. cities such as Cincinnati and New York. The analysis found that: 1) Surveillance systems were most effective in parking lots, where their use resulted in a 51% decrease in crime; 2) Public transportation areas saw a 23% decrease in crimes; 3) Systems in public settings were the least effective, with just a 7% decrease in crimes overall."

A later paragraph notes some cynicism from others about the figures. But nowhere does it say "CCTV solves and/or prevents almost 0 crime". And if it did, I'd correct it. There's plenty of evidence it does.

And if you're going to reject it. You have to answer this conundrum. The British Crime Survey shows growth in crime every year for decades, until 1995. And since then a fall in crime almost every year. 1995 coincides with when a massive increase in CCTV cameras happened, according to your wiki page link. If it wasn't CCTV, what else changed the trend so decisively?

traffic lights aren't optimized (0)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986391)

Surveillance? Meh. Focusing on the traffic lights, what I got out of this is that they are still brainless, uncoordinated, and poorly timed. If they weren't, it wouldn't be possible to squeeze large gains out of the system for a few chosen vehicles. How often do you end up stuck at a red for no good reason, waiting for one car or nothing? Just about every trip. What we have in the way of sensors and reflexive responses hardwired into the controls of the lights and periodically tinkered with is clearly not that good.

Are we ever going to get serious about improving traffic lights? It'd be a win on at least 3 fronts: global warming, lost productivity, and jobs. What's the estimate for collective hours lost to traffic jams? Over 100 million. Seems like it ought to be easy to agree that traffic lights need improving and that there is lots of room for improvement, and to devote some resources to the matter.

Re:traffic lights aren't optimized (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986607)

Actually that doesn't follow. In any system of reasonable complexity, (using this example) sometimes a long wait for one car at one stop will optimize the overall performance of the system - even if there is apparently nothing going on in the opposite direction. You can't look at the problem solely as a static, one-intersection problem. It's akin to n-dimensional queuing models, where n is the number of intersections and the number of possible interactions is n! Or see neural networks.

Not say that their system is smart - I have no idea of how their system works.

To clarify (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986395)

Just in case anyone's wondering, as I was:

the London Streets Traffic Control Center followed each vehicle using CCTV

"Each vehicle" in this case refers to the vehicles carrying the IOC members, not just "each vehicle" that happened to on the road at the time.

Hacking? (2)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986413)

That word definitely lost all its meaning... since when does manually intervening in an automated process (and that through interfaces there by design for this purpose) can be thought of as "hacking". From all editors in the world, those on Slashdot should know better.

The goal of this action has nothing to do with whether you can call it hacking or not. In this case, I believe "fraud" would be more appropriate. This is a textbook case of it.

Re:Hacking? (1)

Squeeself (729802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987677)

You're right, this isn't hacking. A real hacker would make all the traffic lights spell "L-o-n-d-o-n-2-0-1-2" in binary lights along every street for some extra subliminal persuasion of the committee and might leave the traffic control system with a better-tuned congestion-control based on Nagle 's algorithm.

As opposed to an Anonymous "hacker," who would just execute a denial-of-service attack on the traffic lights along the committee's route by re-routing a bunch of extra traffic to cause extra congestion and thereby accomplishing no substantial change from normal.

Yes, I just went to the true heart of any Slashdot article: what a "real" hacker is.

Olympics games are dead (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986437)

Samaranch killed them. Please shut them down for good.
The IOC and their behaviour are disgusting and should be illegal. (no taxes, influencing and hampering the national sovereignty, monopoly, frivolous law suits, bribery, etc, etc, etc.)

I hate the "new" IOC (post-Samaranch) and the stupid olympic games. It is completely contrary to the original olympic idea.

British gov't never fails to fail (0)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987225)

London $ACT_OF_CANNIBALISM its own $IMPORTANT_UTILITY to $WEASEL_WORD it got $FASCIST_INTEREST

You can apply the same template everywhere. One day they're selling out to the I.O.C., the next they're hobbling their own civil freedoms to benefit the U.S. military-industrial complex. Seeing how they were a historic superpower, watching the government destroy its own economy and culture is, well frankly, fucking pathetic.

"Hey, our traffic sucks so bad, a bunch of greedy attention whores might not want to come spend our money. Quick, let's drop everything and suck their snooty cocks, rather than fixing the underlying urban problems."

They should lose the Olympics over this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987553)

This clearly constitutes fraud. They weren't just kissing the IOC's asses by letting them breeze through traffic, they were letting them think it is easier to get around London, and that you can travel around it faster than is actually possible. That means the city they evaluated (London with hacked traffic lights) does not exist (for everyone dumb enough to visit that benighted shithole).

Consequently, they should revoke their granting the "games" to London, and give it to someone else who wasn't committing fraud to try to win the games by sneaky underhanded tricks.

By the way, I don't give a rats ass about the Olympics, I just think that fraud should be punished.

Nothing to do with hacking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987755)

This has nothing to do with hacking. I'm a bit surprised that they used CCTV for monitoring and as it seems manual commands to traffic light controllers based on what they see, but still had GPS in place. Modern traffic control systems do this automatically based on vehicle identification, location data and/or using other priority requests messages. Maybe London needs to upgrade their system to something more up to date?

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