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Connecting To Unsecured Bluetooth Car Systems To Monitor Traffic Flow

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,1 day | from the drive-slowly-for-maximum-confusion dept.

Stats 161

New submitter TheTerseOne writes "The Columbian, the local newspaper of Vancouver (not BC), Washington (not DC) is reporting that local county traffic officials plan on spending $540k of government money to monitor traffic by connecting to vehicles' Bluetooth systems (whose owners/drivers have left them discoverable). The county claims that, although this sounds 'creepy' and 'like Big Brother,' there is no cause for concern. The specific brand of the system is not mentioned, but similar systems have already been the subject of security alerts." County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC, and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices.

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Halifax too! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190639)

Halifax just did the same thing (though only spent 43k). Only release was the tender process, and no acknowledgement after repeated requests for information.

Re:Halifax too! (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190751)

In other news....

Smart people start turning off the fscking bluetooth systems in their cars....

Re:Halifax too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190871)

In most recent news, people need to revert back to cards that don't have computers.

Re:Halifax too! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190919)

Cards have computers in them now?
Fuck man, how long was I asleep for?
Do we have flying cars now?

Re:Halifax too! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190969)

Cards have computers in them now?
Fuck man, how long was I asleep for?
Do we have flying cars now?

No, but we do have flying cards. It's amazing the chaos that one typo in a standards document can wreak upon society.

Re:Halifax too! (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191145)

I like all of the computers in my car. If someone wants to gather anonymous data to make traffic better, I'm fine with that.

Re:Halifax too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191301)

You can always dream, i guess

Re:Halifax too! (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191417)

I like all of the computers in my car. If someone wants to gather anonymous data to make traffic better, I'm fine with that.

Right, because just like every other government tracking program, there's absolutely no way it will ever have its scope expanded to include warrant-less tracking/searches.

Ever. Nothing to worry about, citizen, Big Brother loves you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled broadcast of Everyone Loves Hypnotoad.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192345)

How about we deal with problems as they occur, instead of throwing away huge advancements because of your paranoia.

Re:Halifax too! (2)

Falkentyne (760418) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192497)

How do we know when they occur? Will there be a Snowden-like person to leak things on a city, county, state etc.. level to let us know when our rights/privacy have been compromised? Please do tell when we're supposed to deal with a problem we don't know exists?

And CA and NYC and ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45192555)

Doing the same thing by reading the RFID tags many carrying their cars is old hat and has come up in
2005 - http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=144771&cid=12124437
2002 - http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=37712&cid=4041961
2003 - http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=53299&cid=5272198
and probably a bunch of other times, too.

The only surprising part this time is that they're going to the trouble of using specialized equipment to scan your Bluetooth instead of using commodity RFID readers.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192683)

How about we deal with problems as they occur

I am - it is a problem because of the inevitability of scope-creep. Waiting until it's too late would be absolutely fucking stupid, because as we've all seen with legislation such as the PATRIOT Act and NDAA, once the government takes a kind of power they will not fucking surrender it.

I'm going to ignore the rest of your post as it adds nothing useful to the conversation (other than letting the rest of us know how unreasonable a person you are).

Re:Halifax too! (1)

suutar (1860506) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192637)

me too. The trick is being sure that it stays anonymous, which if they're storing much beyond "there were N cars here at this time" gets difficult.

Re:Halifax too! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190879)

If you're fucking going to fucking curse, fucking curse you fuck.
There's no fucking filter on fucking /.
FUCK.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

rwa2 (4391) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190987)

Is this a bad thing? I suppose they could just get all their data from the Google:
http://www.theconnectivist.com/2013/07/how-google-tracks-traffic/ [theconnectivist.com]

Sounds like the bluetooth-based system is just sniffing bluetooth IDs, not exactly "connecting" any more than when your phone sniffs out discoverable Wi-fi access points but doesn't really try to register with any of them.

I blame poor article word choice. You can start worrying when they make it illegal to disable your car's bluetooth so they can use the system to issue speeding tickets.

Tin foil hat alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191207)

Perhaps this is the secret motivation behind requiring everyone to use a hands-free device.

Re:Halifax too! (2)

scream at the sky (989144) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190851)

Calgary (Alberta, not Texas) has been doing this along major routes for a while, and it's fantastic. Road side signs give very accurate updates on the fly as to how long it will take to get to the next major landmark.

Fantastic.

Re:Halifax too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191057)

So in every area, they have a good estimate of how many cars have Bluetooth and have it turned on? For example, our household (HS senior, college sophomore, my wife and I) have 4 cars total and only one of them has Bluetooth. It is turned on. But, the rest of us have BT headsets - which are not in pairing / discoverable mode. So I guess they only "see" one of us on the road?

Re:Halifax too! (1)

scream at the sky (989144) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191113)

To be honest, I don't know exactly how it works, I suspect that it looks for *any* BT MAC, not just a headset. Phone, PDA, Laptop, Tablet, iPod and then uses that for the calculation.

Re:Halifax too! (2)

amRadioHed (463061) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191189)

Why would they need to know statistics about bluetooth devices in cards? They see a bluetooth device at point A, then a little later see the same device at point B. d=rt, the distance and time are known so the rate of traffic can be easily determined.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191455)

Why would they need to know statistics about bluetooth devices in cards? They see a bluetooth device at point A, then a little later see the same device at point B. d=rt, the distance and time are known so the rate of traffic can be easily determined.

A couple license plate readers would accomplish the same feat, without having to port-scan my personal property*. Probably a lot cheaper to do it that way, too.

* Contrary to popular misconception, your license plates are property of the state, not the individual they are issued to.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191795)

A couple license plate readers would accomplish the same feat, without having to port-scan my personal property*. Probably a lot cheaper to do it that way, too.

Nope, computer-vision-based vehicle detection systems are more expensive -- in fact, the only reason why DOTs bother with bluetooth is that it's cheaper (it is not better).

By the way: vision-based VDS detects the whole vehicle (in the sense of "are the pixels in this rectangle we've superimposed on the image of the lane changing?"). One VDS camera can cover the whole width of the freeway (in each direction). Detecting license plates (let alone reading them) would probably be even more expensive because it would require either higher-resolution cameras, a camera for each lane, or both.

Re:Halifax too! (2)

bws111 (1216812) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192191)

They aren't 'port scanning' anything. They don't know your 'personal property' even exists. They are simply standing on a corner yelling 'anybody want to identify themselves'. If you don't want to identify yourself, don't answer. If you don't want your personal property to identiffy itself, instruct it not to answer.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192735)

They aren't 'port scanning' anything. They don't know your 'personal property' even exists. They are simply standing on a corner yelling 'anybody want to identify themselves'. If you don't want to identify yourself, don't answer.

They might not today, but all that data adds up.

MAC 00:00:86:FF:2B:C4 might not personally identify you on the first pass, but as we've learned from Google and Facebook, with enough data points you can identify anybody. What happens when LEO Bluetooth scanners are ubiquitous? Defacto universal tracking system, that's what.

If you don't want your personal property to identiffy itself, instruct it not to answer.

Many cars do not give the owners that option; if the car is on, then the BT is on and broadcasting.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192493)

How are they going to identify it if they're stripping out the MAC address?

"Mom's Car" might not be unique enough.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192623)

They said "they are stripping out part of the MAC". They can strip off enough that it is not a globally unique ID, but it could still be useful to identify the same vehicle twice on the same road segment.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192651)

Ah. Missed the 'part of' part.

Makes more sense now.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

aggles (775392) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191615)

So in every area, they have a good estimate of how many cars have Bluetooth and have it turned on? For example, our household (HS senior, college sophomore, my wife and I) have 4 cars total and only one of them has Bluetooth. It is turned on. But, the rest of us have BT headsets - which are not in pairing / discoverable mode. So I guess they only "see" one of us on the road?

They don't need many samples to determine road speed conditions. On a busy highway, even if only 1% of the cars have bluetooth discovery enabled, there will be valid data. More valid as the sample size increases. Similar technology is used in airports to understand the speed of the people moving thorugh the security line.

Re:Halifax too! (1)

chinton (151403) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191201)

Does it tell you how long it will take to get out of the cone of snooping?

Of course (4, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190665)

County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC (of course they will), and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices (of course it won't).

Business Opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190899)

Everyone should buy Yoyodyne's new "ToTheManSticker", a gadget that adheres to you bumper and broadcasts programmable disinformatzya to share your opinion of spying with the government.

Fortunately, all of this Orwellian behavior is only bad during Republican Administrations, or the Codpiece Media might be forced to, you know, ask "hahrd" questions.

Re:Of course (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191291)

Until presented with a court order to preserve this information along with a gag order not to mention it. There is no inherent technical or legal protection of this data. The technical side can fix historical data but it trivial to bypass from the point of being served. Legal protection pretty much requires an amendment.

Re:Of course (1)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191355)

Depends what part they strip out. If they drop the manufacturer ID, whoop-de-do, that can be guessed later on.

Instead of just dropping a chunk that can be possibly rebuilt, how about at the minimum, using a hash of the ID? The ideal would be a salted hash, with the salt a secret (so someone later on can't grab a list of MACs and convert/correlate them with the hashed versions.)

All that is needed is a unique identifier. The detector for BT devices can just create a salt it stores internally and changes every 12-24 hours, hashes the MACs it sees with the salt, and passes a list of the hashes up as unique IDs to check if there are any traffic jams.

Of course, even this can easily lead to devices to make speed traps, but at least after the internal salt changes, it would be hard to find what device made what hash.

Re:Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191727)

It doesn't matter what part they strip out. The fact that they have to 'strip it out' means it will be recorded and saved by some organization. The bottle has already been opened.

Re:Of course (1)

MiniMike (234881) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191631)

They will (initially) remove "about half" of the MAC address. I'm guessing they will be removing the first half, which only identifies the manufacturer. Practically this does almost nothing to reduce the ability to uniquely identify cars. If they remove more bytes it would reduce this ability without much reduction to their ability to monitor traffic flow..

You know, until it is useful for law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190723)

Traffic Officials: Don't worry, we designed it so it won't be useful to Law Enforcement.
Law Enforcement: Traffic Officials, make it useful to Law Enforcement.

hmmm. done. next. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190769)

ifconfig eth0 down
macchanger -A eth0
ifconfig eth0 up

Re:hmmm. done. next. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191791)

That's not how bluetooth works.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190787)

"County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC, and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices. "

Yea. Until they pay extra for it....

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191033)

"County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC, and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices. "

Yea. Until they pay extra for it....

Pay extra? "It's unfortunate that your jurisdiction's federal funding has run into a snag. Don't worry, we'll get this straightened out by 2018. However, we do have a fast-track funding system for those who ..."

CFAA? (4, Interesting)

cob666 (656740) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190827)

Connecting to a computer system without the consent of the owner is still a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and a felony the last time I checked.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190941)

It's only a crime if The Man wants to come down on you. The Man would never do something criminal, no-siree.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Mitsoid (837831) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190989)

I don't see a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for Canada

Also, it's difficult to charge government organizations for a felony... Its even more so difficult to charge a law enforcement official of doing any wrongdoing unless there's a 100:1 outcry against the officer, and it's on tape, and the officer loses support from his peers.

Re:CFAA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191107)

Read the summary. It was clear that it was Vancouver, WA (USA). The CFAA certainly applies in Vancouver, WA.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191129)

This is in Washington State, not Canada.

Re:CFAA? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191237)

I don't see a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for Canada

The city of Vancouver, Washington is in the state of Washington. TFS gives a strong hint to that effect.

Also, it's difficult to charge government organizations for a felony...

That, I think, is GP's point. As a practical matter, the county government doesn't have to worry about complying with the CFAA. We Americans like to think of our country as a nation of laws, but the application of those laws seems increasingly capricious and one-sided.

Re:CFAA? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191325)

The same kinds of systems are used all over, in many states. Georgia, for example, uses it for vehicle detection in most of the Interstates outside of Metro Atlanta. (In Atlanta they use traditional computer-vision-based detection instead, because it was put in before Bluetooth detection became available and because it gives more detailed data (namely, lane-by-lane vehicle counts).)

I can only assume the reason the CFAA doesn't apply is that these systems don't "connect" to the vehicles' devices is any meaningful way, but rather merely passively listen to them as they go by.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191003)

Laws are for the peons, not the masters.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191009)

And making your computer actively broadcast its name, address and that it is looking for connections doesn't count as consent? That's like shouting your bank details on a train and then trying to have the people who heard prosecuted for wire fraud. No, wait, this needs to be a car analogy. That's like prosecuting someone for reading a bumper sticker that you put on your car (but in this case, they didn't look at the rest of the car).

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191091)

And making your computer actively broadcast its name, address and that it is looking for connections doesn't count as consent?

Google made the same claim regarding their "accidental" open WiFi data gathering but somehow the government said they were wrong.

Re:CFAA? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192183)

Google was actively capturing and keeping payload data (though they claimed this was a misconfiguration). A lot different.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191041)

I know that's the kind of logic that gets used in prosecutions and lawsuits, but it's stupid. "Discovery" in a protocol like Bluetooth is specifically designed to allow anybody to use it. That's the point.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191227)

But then again, is bluetooth discovery active or passive?

eek, our jails will be full of police! (2)

swschrad (312009) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191137)

on the other hand, reading the daily newspapers, maybe it's about time.

Re:CFAA? (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191171)

How are these systems "connecting" to the car's computer system? They are passively monitoring broadcasts from the car.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191205)

I don't think detecting the MAC can be considered a "connection"

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191233)

"terrorism". Done, we've used the root password to the law...

Re:CFAA? (1)

houghi (78078) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191593)

And your problem is? Just because something is illegal, unconstitutional, immoral or unwanted does not mean the government can't do it.

Re:CFAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191765)

Anyone who thinks that connecting to an unsecured system should be illegal solely based on the intent of the owner of said unsecured system has no clue, at best. As with open wireless networks, nobody has a way of knowing the intent of the system owner, except that the system is broadcasting its existence and unsecured status. If you don't want anyone else to connect to your wireless system, secure it. In the case of Bluetooth, disable discoverability. There is no need for a Bluetooth device to be discoverable except for pairing. Once paired, both devices will find each other without either of them being discoverable.

If you really want to be angry about something, be angry at the people who design wireless devices to use fixed unique IDs on the air.

Re:CFAA? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192103)

Really? Merely connecting to a discover-able service is a violation of the CFAA? Could you care to cite the exact part which backs that up?

"Not to be useful for law enforcement..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190905)

Yet.

They only need "just a bit more" of tax revenue from "the (little) people" and it will be...

I'm so confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190927)

So it's a crime to break into peoples unsecured bluetooth systems. But its NOT a crime to break into unsecured goverment computer systems..

Ok got it.

Quit ruining our fun (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190931)

Systems that broadcast to people nearby can be a lot of fun and useful. Game consoles "social" apps, WiFi, safety applications or just allowing passengers to pair to stereo with least amount of effort.

That is until some asshole tries inevitably tries to collect and aggregate everything. I don't care if it is useful or insecure or you take x measures to prevent y value judgment... you are still an asshole.

Re:Quit ruining our fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191823)

There is no need for unique fixed IDs. Wireless devices which announce services should be more like anonymous cowards: Let the content speak for itself. Identification can be performed in private, after discovery.

Already being done in Vancouver, BC (2)

Sean (422) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190939)

If you don't want to be discovered with Bluetooth, don't leave your devices in discoverable mode!

Re:Already being done in Vancouver, BC (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191045)

I've know where you are Mr. "Sync", and I am watching you.

Re:Already being done in Vancouver, BC (1)

slack_justyb (862874) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191139)

That's like saying, "if you don't want to get arrested, don't do anything illegal!" Or am I the only one that got that vibe?

Re: Already being done in Vancouver, BC (1)

Raf (2925113) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191213)

Remember if you're not doing anything illegal you have nothing to worry about.

Re:Already being done in Vancouver, BC (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191449)

If you don't want to be discovered with Bluetooth, don't leave your devices in discoverable mode!

Nice to know you also support the TSA, Patriot Act, and NSA spying on US citizens, right?

After all, you're not doing anything illegal, right? So that's all OK.

Re:Already being done in Vancouver, BC (1)

pla (258480) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192463)

If you don't want to be discovered with Bluetooth, don't leave your devices in discoverable mode!

More to the point - What BT devices actually broadcast their availability continually? Both my cars actually pop up an on-demand 90 or 120 second countdown to show how long you have left to try to pair a device to them; all the devices I've tried pairing to them either do something similar, or even go so far as to do a single active sweep before giving up and going silent again.

Even as an admitted privacy nut, it surprises me that this works at all. From what I've seen, BT systems actually seem to do a pretty good job of keeping their mouths shut when not in use.

/ Keyboards and mice notwithstanding - Yeah, they pretty much chatter along continually, but then, they don't tend to have any hijackable capabilities, purely passive "timing" attacks aside.

Re:Already being done in Vancouver, BC (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192573)

If you don't want to be discovered with Bluetooth, don't leave your devices in discoverable mode!

More to the point - What BT devices actually broadcast their availability continually?

I know the Bluetooth in a VW Jetta will talk to anything within range, until a device actually pairs with it; I also know that when Ford started putting BT capabilities in cars they were notorious for being wide open and beaconing constantly, although I'd wager FoMoCo has done something about it since then (I found out about the issue pre-Sync).

Slight misrepresentation... (5, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | 1 year,1 day | (#45190975)

It should be noted that they are not "connecting" to these devices, just cataloging the ones which announce their own presence. It's pretty fricking passive.

Re:Slight misrepresentation... (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191019)

Yeah. They are really 'detecting' the BT presence, not connecting. Ignorant reporting is a much bigger problem these days.

Re:Slight misrepresentation... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192333)

Didn't stop Google from getting a wiretapping charge when collecting AP data.

Re:Slight misrepresentation... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192585)

It should be noted that they are not "connecting" to these devices, just cataloging the ones which announce their own presence. It's pretty fricking passive.

OK, so why not scan my license plate (which belongs to the state anyway), and not my personal property?

I'll bet the license-plate-scanner equip is probably a lot cheaper to boot.

Sampling Bias? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45190977)

Won't this introduce sampling bias, as non-Bluetooth cars are excluded from traffic monitoring? Highways with richer travelers will get more funding than the poor parts of town.

Re:Sampling Bias? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192379)

It would track those cars' movement through the system - how long to get from position A to position B. I doubt it would be used to monitor traffic quantity - more intelligent people don't have their devices discoverable. So it would disproportionately benefit the stupid. Traffic jams don't usually happen in primarily residential areas. That is, unless your own residential street is being used as a bypass around traffic.

Re:Sampling Bias? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45192641)

That's the idea...

its an invitation for disaster. (1, Offtopic)

nimbius (983462) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191049)

while many people will neither know nor care about the effort to smooth out traffic, Vancouver may be mistaken in their zeal. While my old 2001 crown victoria does not include bluetooth, the wireless laptop inside is programmed to dump millions of MAC's per second once a bluetooth connection is solicited, many of them malformed with negative integers, spaces and special characters...

Sometimes I collect the macs of vehicles in around me, and much like the towers of hanoi spoof them as i pass the readers on the highway to reduce traffic automagically shift the speed of traffic..

other times I collect the mac addresses of the scanners, and feed them to other scanners in a circular fashion.

Re:its an invitation for disaster. (1)

scream at the sky (989144) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191147)

Why?

that seems like an awful lot of effort, for very little gain, other than to show that you can be an ass. What's the point?

Re:its an invitation for disaster. (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191299)

Why?

that seems like an awful lot of effort, for very little gain, other than to show that you can be an ass. What's the point?

His point is that it only takes one asshat to pollute the system, and it's guaranteed that there's more than one. I also remember reading something recently related to this, showing that false info can be fed to google to create non-existant traffic jams in Maps.

Re:its an invitation for disaster. (0)

scream at the sky (989144) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191989)

I guess as I get older I simply don't understand the psychology of the asshat as well as I used to.

How will this help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191059)

How will doing this help travel times decrease? Will the road get dynamically wider? That will cost a lot more than $540k. It doesn't take a fancy system to know when traffic is bad. The problem is building wider roads costs a lot. Of course, many places uses traffic cameras to take license plate shots (they say for tolls, but can be used to track all cars), so this is more of the same. Cameras work on most all cars even without BT.

Re:How will this help? (1)

fullmetal55 (698310) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191267)

yes but for example on a 6 lane N/S Road, with lots of traffic northbound in the morning and lots of traffic southbound in the evening (rush hour), can be changed from 3/3 lanes both directions to 4/2 n/s morning and 2/4 n/s evening. should there be traffic at different times of the day, at say 6-8 PM and 10-12 PM, (say a hockey games traffic) it can automatically adjust the lanes depending on the amount of traffic. heck it could even go to 5/1 or 1/5 depending on volume at the time.

How this is better than the current axle counters they have I don't know, in fact I see it as probably worse. since it's not quite as accurate. maybe easier to plug into the traffic control systems.

it's probably to ease traffic to and from Canucks games.

Re:How will this help? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191639)

Axle counters can tell you the volume of traffic, but don't really tell you the speed of the traffic (does a count of zero axles in 30 seconds mean no traffic, or traffic at a dead stop?) Volume of traffic is important for long-range planning (ie increase number of lanes, etc). Speed reporting is much more useful for adjusting things like traffic light timing in real time. If you know traffic is moving at 40MPH and there is are 2 traffic lights x distance apart you can time the lights so the traffic does not have to stop. Of course, eventually you must stop the traffic (or there would be no point in having the lights). Now, when traffic restarts, it will of course be moving slower, so the lights should have a different timing.

Re:How will this help? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192009)

Axle counters can tell you the volume of traffic, but don't really tell you the speed of the traffic (does a count of zero axles in 30 seconds mean no traffic, or traffic at a dead stop?)

Axle counters (and magnetic field loop detection and computer-vision-based detection, both of which are more common for the application we're talking about) do tell you the speed of the vehicles in every situation except for a major accident with all lanes blocked. And you can tell when that happens because the map turned from green to yellow to red before the data stopped.

Re:How will this help? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191883)

How this is better than the current axle counters they have I don't know, in fact I see it as probably worse. since it's not quite as accurate. maybe easier to plug into the traffic control systems.

It's worse, but cheaper. I don't know about the relative accuracy for reporting speeds, but it has the substantial disadvantage of not being able to report vehicle counts (since you don't know how many vehicles are traveling without using Bluetooth).

Re:How will this help? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192059)

Why is not knowing vehicle counts a 'substantial disadvantage'? If the purpose of the information (as it says in TFA) is to adjust traffic signals based on the speed of the traffic, then the volume doesn't matter.

Re:How will this help? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192731)

Vehicle counts start to matter as soon as you want to do any kind of deeper engineering analysis or design. For example, you might want to be able to answer questions like "how do speeds correlate with volume -- do they drop linearly, or suddenly at some 'critical' volume?" or "how much excess capacity does my road have?" or "did this change I made to the road actually increase capacity, or did speeds just seem to improve because fewer people happen to be driving on it this week?"

In general, it's a lot more fun (as a traffic engineer) to have real-time data than it is to send somebody out in the field count data for one day out of a year (especially when, for all you know, that one day might be an outlier).

Not to mention, asking a traffic engineer to do anything without knowing vehicle counts is kind of like asking an electrical engineer to design a device without knowing how many amps it uses.

Re:How will this help? (1)

jomama717 (779243) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191473)

I thought they were already doing this in Boston, maybe not... In any case I always assumed this was a way for the states to make money. They own the highways, therefore the exclusive rights to put these sensors up, and therefore exclusive access to hyper-accurate realtime traffic data that they can license out to the likes of google and apple for their map applications. I suppose it could simply be used to provide information for the "X minutes to airport" signs they have on most highways now.

All seems pretty harmless to me, they could just as easily hire human beings to stand along the highways with walkie talkies and monitor average traffic speeds, would people throw a shit fit then?

Re:How will this help? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191571)

How will doing this help travel times decrease?

This data, in aggregate, gets monitored in real time by DOT employees (some of which are engineers) at a centralized traffic management center. They can use it to:

  • Clear accidents more quickly by noticing the backup and dispatching responders before it gets called in
  • Post messages on electronic signs advising travelers to take alternate routes (or, more usually, post travel time messages so that travelers can better inform their own routing decisions)
  • Use the 511 phone system to advise travelers
  • Tell news organizations about the traffic conditions (you didn't really think they all collected their own data, right?)

You know what else broadcasts unique ID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191159)

The reflected light from your car, ie - car paint color. They could've spent more money in tracking your car with color & shape recognition, and verify with the first 3 characters of your car tag.

Bluetooth is similarly broadcasting, albeit at different wavelengths. The only difference is that you can turn off your bluetooth. You can't put your car on stealth mode on visible light spectrum.

And for other critics, this is not the same as leaving your house unlocked == invitation to come in. This is more like leaving your doors and windows open, and blasting music outward so people can hear it from the street. Don't want them to listen? Lower your volume or close all your windows and doors.

Use for law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191223)

"County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC, and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices."

What would be the problem in using it for law enforcement? Don't we go around showing around our license plate?

Re:Use for law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45191515)

oh, i don't know, twenty four seven surveilance on your where abouts? License plates only work when you are directly targeted for surveilance. Also when this kind of surveilance is in place, anyone who can access the data can falsify it, so you better not piss off someone with that access.

Inflammatory summary... "Government money" (1)

Insightfill (554828) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191391)

It seems like the phrase "government money" is dropped in here just to bait arguments. Was there any doubt it was government money? If it were private money, would that be a problem? Wouldn't it be a different problem? Wouldn't "public funds" or "a state/federal grant" have been the same or more accurate?

From TFA: "The program is being funded primarily through a $540,000 federal grant, with a small match from the local governments." TFA actually has a lot of other good 'geeky' detail, like "3-5% of traffic [is already] broadcasting in discoverable mode".

I feel like someone is trying to raise the "oh, the waste!" card.

Bluetooth, shmoothooth (3, Interesting)

psydeshow (154300) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191629)

This seems really complicated. Why not just track the RFID signature generated by the various parts of the car which are tagged? Tires, replacement parts, items in the trunk, ID badges on the passengers....

Don't tell soccer moms (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191693)

They'll be howling for government and law enforcement to have access to that information to catch bogeymen and child molesters and other big scary people in the name of their little snowflakes.

Isn't this explicitly illegal in the US? (1)

qeveren (318805) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191719)

I mean... legally speaking you can't for example connect to someone's open wi-fi and use it. Look at the shit Google got into with their mapping car...

No need for concern? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,1 day | (#45191749)

Great. Install it in every politician's car.

No need for concern, right? Or... got anything to hide?

Personally, every time someone comes up with some "no need for concern" bull, I say let the politicians in charge be the first to use it. No need to be concerned about the power plant? Great, have the town council move in next to it. No need to be concerned about food? Great, put it on the menu for them. No need to be concerned about surveillance? Great, move politicians to the front row to be under scrutiny.

If it was required to be used on them first, I'm pretty sure we'd have a lot fewer things not to be concerned about.

Washington State Law disagrees... (2)

Scutter (18425) | 1 year,1 day | (#45192435)

Since it seems to meet the criteria of RCW 9A.52.110, I'd say every attempt to connect is a Class C Felony. However, at the very least, it's a misdemeanor.

RCW 9A.52.110
Computer trespass in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of computer trespass in the first degree if the person, without authorization, intentionally gains access to a computer system or electronic database of another; and

          (a) The access is made with the intent to commit another crime; or

          (b) The violation involves a computer or database maintained by a government agency.

          (2) Computer trespass in the first degree is a class C felony.

[1984 c 273 1.]

*****************

RCW 9A.52.120
Computer trespass in the second degree.

(1) A person is guilty of computer trespass in the second degree if the person, without authorization, intentionally gains access to a computer system or electronic database of another under circumstances not constituting the offense in the first degree.

          (2) Computer trespass in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor.

[1984 c 273 2.]

******************

RCW 9A.52.120
Computer trespass in the second degree.

(1) A person is guilty of computer trespass in the second degree if the person, without authorization, intentionally gains access to a computer system or electronic database of another under circumstances not constituting the offense in the first degree.

          (2) Computer trespass in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor.

[1984 c 273 2.]

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