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Using Cell Phones to Track Traffic

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the simple-and-brilliant dept.

Wireless Networking 246

msh210 writes "The AP has reported (with additional information from KMOX-AM) that the Missouri Dept. of Transportation will be teaming up with a private company to track in-use cell phones on Missouri highways and state roads in an effort to monitor traffic flow. Individual information will not be stored, they say -- only the aggregate will be studied, using "sophisticated" math. (See also findlaw.com's commentary on privacy concerns. "

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Better idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924555)

Using cell phones to track dupes [slashdot.org] .

Re:Better idea (0, Offtopic)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924606)

How is this off topic? Isn't knowing that the story (and ensuing comments) have already been discussed important information?

Re:Better idea (1, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924848)

Someone should, using "sophisticated" math, figure out the the stories most duped are the ones that get the most comments... More comments = more page reloads/serves and more ad revenue....
Does no one else notice this? Stories about some small niche thing with limited interest gets posted once, and only once. Anything that engenders comments mentioning A: Big Brother, B: Bush/Repubs or Democrats or C: Europe/Asia/America/France (especially france) sucking get posted again and again. Because guess what, even trolls count as a page view for Ad reporting.
So there is the answer to the dupe question- It isn't funny- it is just business.

Re:Better idea (2, Funny)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924958)

But, we haven't had a US vs UN Internet root control discussion for days now!

what? (4, Insightful)

conJunk (779958) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924563)

is it just me, or does this sound like a complete waste of money? privacy concerns aside (i'm not convinced there are any), what will this accomplish that video cameras don't already do?

so we'll use mobile phone signals to monitor traffic? seems heaps less efficient that actually looking at real traffic volume...

Re:what? (3, Informative)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924591)

Video cameras can't count cars. A device which detects cell phones can.

what?-Under pressure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924636)

Since they're looking at aggregate data. Those roadside pressure sensors can give you the volume and rate.

Re:what?-Under pressure. (2, Insightful)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924946)

IDOT in the chicago area uses microwave and inductor loop detectors to determine traffic flow and has been doing this for a long time. If you want up to the minute traffic flows, you can go to http://www.gcmtravel.com/ [gcmtravel.com]

Re:what?-Under pressure. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924993)

What is the great need to monitor traffic in real time? Who does this information go to?

The only traffic info I've ever seen given to drivers is via the radio...from helicopter reports, and that's only during rush hour...

What is the need at all for all the cameras and tracking?

I can see that traffic data over time might be useful for city planning and all...seeing where roads need to be widened and such....but, why is it needed in such detail in real time?

Re:what? (1)

Trevahaha (874501) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924795)

You think there could be methods such as motion detectors or those rubber things you run over when they count the number of cars that go through intersections.

Re:what? (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924799)

I think you got that backward: a cell phone detector can only count cell phones. For example, a bus with 18 people using cellphones on it is not 18 cars. A video camera, on the other hand, can tell you exactly how many cars are on the road, and what types and sizes, and their speeds.

Re:what? (1)

Trevahaha (874501) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924829)

And obviously those drivers without cell phones won't appear at all. I don't know exactly how they do it here in Seattle, but we have live automated traffic monitoring in Seattle that (I believe) uses the cameras on the freeway. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/ [wa.gov]

Re:what? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924891)

As an aggregate, X cell phones will mean Y cars. It would take very little money to do such a study and figure out what the rate is.

You'd probably need to reevaluate it each year or after any laws go into effect that could effect the rate (such as laws saying you can't talk on a cell phone while driving - either in Missouri or in a neighboring state.)

Re:what? (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924940)

Right.. but there are many other sensors in use that detect traffic flow, speeds and roadway conditions on major highways. Look for odd boxes on the side of the road with antennas and camera-shaped objects pointed at the road but with no lenses.

This is simply unnecessary.

Re:what? (1)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924640)

I would say that cellphone antenna towers are already in place, depending on the area, traffic cameras might need to be installed.

A traffic camera also has a limited scope and would cost more to run a series of cameras to provide continuous coverage along a single stretch of road. Presumably, if there's cellphone coverage in a given area, there could be traffic monitoring with no need to deploy extra hardware and technicians.

So from a procurement and deployement angle, this could actually save money and provide more bang for the buck, considering how pervasive cellphone coverage is in metropolitan areas.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924755)

But if you have no cell phone, you are invisible to the system.

Re:what? (4, Informative)

GoodOmens (904827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924641)

This has been going on for the past 6 months in Maryland.

http://www.mddailyrecord.com/pub/5_398_friday/busi nessnews/172883-1.html [mddailyrecord.com]

MMTIS uses the movement between towers, without collecting personal information, and uses that data to determine speed and movement in specific areas.

Old News: Cell Phones Have Been Used To (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924657)


Track Al-Qaeda [whitehouse.org] .

Patriotically,
Kilgore Trout, M.D.

Re:what? (3, Insightful)

honeypotslash (927312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924687)

They must be trying to get people to stop using cell phones while driving by making them paranoid that they are being tracked.

Re:what? (1)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924691)

The hope is to use existing infrastructure, so you dont have to spend money to build up a network of video cameras, and instead just tap off the cell companies network

Re:what? (2, Insightful)

thelexx (237096) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924800)

"privacy concerns aside (i'm not convinced there are any)"

Really. Would you like a personally assigned police officer to trail you around 100% of the time you aren't in your house or on your lawn, taking notes on what you are doing? Once pervasive enough, remote surveillance accomplishes the same exact thing. A velvet cage is still a cage.

Re:what? (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13925010)

Knowing where you are is in no way equivalent to knowing what you're doing.

The only thing cell phone tracking tells anyone is where your cell phone is.

"A velvet cage is still a cage."

And hyperbole is still hyperbole.

Re:what? (1)

fury88 (905473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924947)

Actually this is much more accurate than what they do here in Florida. They use the ePass things to track traffic but not everyone has them. I would thing that more people own cell phones than ePasses, though it could be the same ignorant people who don't want to get an ePass that don't want to get a cell phone for safety reasons.

How about using "search" to track dupes? (4, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924565)

For instance, a simple search would have uncovered This Page [slashdot.org] .

"Sophisticated" Math (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924577)

In Missouri addition and division are considered sophisticated math or "addin' and such" as the locals call it.

Now they will really know where we are (1)

Barkley44 (919010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924578)

So they will know where we are, where we stop, how long we spent at location XYZ... Great!!! It's a great idea, so old problem with privacy and how much they track/retain on specific details.

Re:Now they will really know where we are (1)

Barkley44 (919010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924607)

I know they say they won't track it, but I find that hard to believe.

Re:Now they will really know where we are (1)

Joe Random (777564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924688)

It's not that they won't track it, it's that they likely can't. The DoT is being provided aggregate data by the cell phone company. If the cell company decides to give them specific enough data, then the DoT could probably use it to track individuals. However, it's highly unlikely that the cell companies would hand over that much data, and just as unlikely that the DoT would want to have to handle such a large amount of specific data when a smaller batch of aggregate data would do just as well.

Re:Now they will really know where we are (1)

Bob3141592 (225638) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924876)

And how fast you're going. If the proposal was to use cell phones to track speeders, the public reaction would be much different. If that's a concern, the time to object is now, or it will soon come to pass (corry, the pun was irrestible).

I'll save them some money (4, Funny)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924597)

Traffic is bad on 40 East in the morning and 40 West in the afternoon. 270 is often packed too. Source: me. I drive it every day.

Re:I'll save them some money (2, Insightful)

windows (452268) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924792)

Traffic might be predictable somewhat in Saint Louis. I used to live there. I know this.

That being said, I do see some uses for this. I can't count the number of times I've seen the 70 backed up in rural Missouri because of accidents. Maybe it's not that much use in the city of Saint Louis, but it might be worthwhile in, say, Montgomery or Callaway counties which the 70 runs through.

Slippery Slope (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924601)

This time next year:

"Your honor, the defendant's cell phone was detected half an hour after the crime was committed, heading away from the crime scene along I-85 doing 65MPH. Clearly, he was speeding to try to get away from the crime scene."

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924634)

Wow, you really lubed it up to come to that kind of conclusion. I can only hope you forgot the sarcasm tags.

Re:Slippery Slope (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924683)

From Lectric Law Library [lectlaw.com] :

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE - Circumstantial evidence is best explained by saying what it is not - it is not direct evidence from a witness who saw or heard something. Circumstantial evidence is a fact that can be used to infer another fact..

Circumstantial evidence is generally admissible in court unless the connection between the fact and the inference is too weak to be of help in deciding the case.


You need a lot more than a single circumstantial fact to "prove" that someone committed a crime. Rather, you need a large number of such facts that close in on the case and provide a single, inescapable conclusion. Even if you have done that, be prepared for the defense to argue each point under a "hypothetical" context, thus convincing the jury that the "evidence" is nothing more than a set of coincidences presented in such a way as to make the defendent look guilty.

That data is already tracked (2, Interesting)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924698)

Your cell phone carrier already tracks that information. I don't know if it's saved, but tracking your movements via your cell phone was doable at least 15 years ago, probably much longer. This used to require a warrant, which probably went away with the "patriot" act.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

alecks (473298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924733)

Yeah, versus "Your honor, the defendant's CAR was SEEN ON TRAFIC CAMS half an hour after the crime was committed, heading away from the crime scene along I-85 doing 65MPH. Clearly, he was speeding to try to get away from the crime scene

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924855)

Only on /. would this be modded insightful.

Where is the +5 paranoid moderation. I'm just wonder do a group of posters just sit around and try to figure out how to turn any topic in to a potential privacy issue?

65MPH is fast? (1)

narl (802378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924911)

..heading away from the crime scene along I-85 doing 65MPH. Clearly, he was speeding to try to get away from the crime scene
65MPH is speeding? Normal traffic on the freeways in town here (Phoenix, AZ) is 70-75MPH. Going anything less than 65 will get you run over. 55 is suicidal. The occasional 45MPH speed limit signs for construction are obviously someone's idea of a sick joke.

EZ-Pass aleady used for this... (5, Informative)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924603)

Automated toll collection tags used in the Northeast ("EZ-Pass") are already being used to monitor traffic flow. Not only are these tags traceable to you, they are connected to your credit card, which is auto-debited for tolls. Currently they are not being used to auto-ticket speeders (you wouldn't even need to use 'sophisticated' math to figure that one out), but they do warn that the EZ-Pass info will be used for traffic monitoring and monitoring 'violations of your agreement.'

Here it is in the service agreement (search onpage for 'monitoring'):

https://www.ezpass.csc.paturnpike.com/paturnpike/t erms.asp [paturnpike.com]

Re:EZ-Pass aleady used for this... (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924750)

Not only are these tags traceable to you, they are connected to your credit card, which is auto-debited for tolls.
You are not required to tie the E-ZPass account to a credit card. You can have them bill you monthly. Even if you do tie the account to a CC, you aren't debited for the toll amount every time you pass through. You put $25 or $35 on account with E-ZPass, and the amount is debited from that. When you reach $10, your CC is billed that $25 or $35 again. I'm sure they make a ton of money on the interest/investment on this money.
Currently they are not being used to auto-ticket speeders (you wouldn't even need to use 'sophisticated' math to figure that one out),
In NY, last I checked, an officer must first observe you, think that you are speeding, then verify that you are via radar gun or similar. A location for the offense is also required - how would they know at what point you were speeding? In addition, the on/off ramps are long enough (again, this is my experience in NY) that anything but a really blatant offense, like 10+ MPH over the limit, will be negated by the slowdown at the entry & exit. Not to mention what happens to your average speed when you sit in line for 5 minutes at the toll plaza. So far, they can't legally issue a ticket based on E-ZPass data.

Re:EZ-Pass aleady used for this... (1)

The Outbreak Monkey (581200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924983)

"Currently they are not being used to auto-ticket speeders..."

Why is everyone so concerned about this?

They don't need an EZ-Pass to determine if you were speeding or not. All of the information that they need (time stamps) is also available on the paper ticket. One could even argue that auto ticketing paper ticket holders would be a more effective means of ticket distribution as the toll booth collector could even hand you your ticket back with your change. With an EZ-Pass auto-ticketing system, you'd have to go through the trouble of mailing the ticket.

Furthermore, where I live, they have the ability to take a photograph of the license AND the driver at every toll booth. So my point is, if they were going to start auto-ticketing speeders, having an EZ-Pass isn't going to make it any easier for them to give you a ticket.

hypocritic (2, Insightful)

p2sam (139950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924619)

Aren't they a bit hypocritic when they discourage cell phone use on the road on one hand, and then try to use cell phone usage to track traffic?

Re:hypocritic (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924743)

Aren't they a bit hypocritic when they discourage cell phone use on the road on one hand, and then try to use cell phone usage to track traffic?

No. It would be hypocritical if they discouraged cell phone use, and then used cell phones themselves while driving.

Re:hypocritic (1)

SComps (455760) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924768)

You don't actually have to *use* your cell phone on the road, just being powered on is enough to track it's location. The phone does all the "Hi! Here I am!" stuff all by itself.

Re:hypocritic (1)

Joe Random (777564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924849)

You don't need you to actually be talking on the phone, it just needs to be turned on.

Re:hypocritic (5, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924870)

> Aren't they a bit hypocritic when they discourage cell phone use on the road on one hand, and then try to use cell phone usage to track traffic?

Not hypocritical at all.

A cell phone is trackable even when its owner is not talking on it.

This article [howstuffworks.com] provides a good outline on what happens. Basically, there's a control channel, through which your phone communicates whenever it's got a battery in it. Your phone listens for an SID (System Identification Code) on this channel, and tells the appropriate MTSO (Mobile Telephone Switching Office) "Hi, I'm here". The MTSO has to know where you are, so that it can route incoming calls to the device.

All that's happening here is that the traffic monitoring folks are listening in on the back-channel communications between a large number of cell phones and base stations, and using the changes in location (as averaged over a large number of devices) to guesstimate the average speed of traffic. Individualized cell phone tracking is useless for a traffic flow application, so it's actually highly likely that the traffic folks are telling you the truth when they say that individual data isn't being logged, and that only aggregate data is being recorded.

The technology's nothing new - a system like this is necessarily a part of any wireless phone system, otherwise your phone couldn't ring when someone called you. No such agency is now permitted to do such a thing domestically (a sentence that can be parsed in at least eight ways, all of which are true), but they probably don't, because everyone else who's also interested in individualized tracking, is already doing this, has been doing this for years, and is using other tricks in software to locate their targets to within a few meters, all in real-time. They aren't using the traffic-control folks' data, because they don't need it.

Re:hypocritic (1)

CaptainSpud (927577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924963)

Who are "they"? Missouri has no laws about cell phone use while driving. Yack away!

Privacy concerns (2, Insightful)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924629)

The concept of tracking cell phone movements to assist in optimising traffic flow seems to me a good one. I expect other similar good ideas to be forthcoming. Surely, there ought to be technological solutions to allow tracking while reliably protecting individual privacy. Perhaps, each cell phone could generate a short term session identifier (24 hours in duration and not tied in an obvious way to the phone number) for use in such tracking applications? It might also be feasible to allow paranoid phone owners to opt out.

Privacy concerns-BadTechnology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924748)

Remember people:

Technology:==good.

People:==Bad.

Place blame accordingly.

Re:Privacy concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924867)

Sure. Unless you log the session ID, date it was used, and the phone number it was associated with in a database.

Nothing to see here, please move along (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924632)

This is just the government's way of beowulf clustering our cellphones.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924928)

A Beowulf cluster of phones? The horror!

What they will find out... (3, Insightful)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924643)

is that cell phones are the cause of much traffic. People on cell phones slow down or even get into accidents.

Re:What they will find out... (1)

fdrebin (846000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924819)

is that cell phones are the cause of much traffic. People on cell phones slow down or even get into accidents.

I remember the good old days, before cell phones.....
No trafic jams!

Actually, I agree that it can contribute to traffic problems. I just have to be snide sometimes.
/F

Does powering off work? (2, Interesting)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924652)

Cell phone users may be able to accomplish the same thing by turning off their phones - but at the cost of not receiving what might be important calls from spouses, children, elderly relatives and others.

I once read, here I beleive, that powering off a cell phone doesn't keep it from transmitting. You have to remove the battery or put it into a foil bag. Is this correct?

What is the best to protect your privacy with regard to location with a cell?

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924696)

If it transmits when off, it must only be tiny bursts spaced way out, because most phones I've seen can last months on one battery charge when powered off.

It couldn't be doing much transmitting and not sap the battery.

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924703)

What is the best to protect your privacy with regard to location with a cell?

Leave it at home.

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924933)

'What is the best to protect your privacy with regard to location with a cell?'
Leave it at home.


Leave it at smoeone else's home.

Re:Does powering off work? (3, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924745)

All of the cell phones that I have seen turn off the receiver and transmitter when they are turned off. The only things that stay on are the clock, keyboard scanning, battery charger controller and backup power for volatile memory.

Re:Does powering off work? (2, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924796)

You gotta shut it down, lock it up, and dig a moat around it

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924807)

Nope they don't broadcast when off, that's just the voices in their heads talking. An easy test is turn on the phone next to some cheap computer speakers. You should hear alot of garabage being picked up by them. It'll sound different and be different lengths of time for powerup, incoming calls, voicemail/text message alerts, or standby. Turn it off and leave it there and you wont hear a peep out of the speakers, no noise=no signal.

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924824)

Put it under your tinfoil hat.

Re:Does powering off work? (1)

hador_nyc (903322) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924950)

wrap it in tinfoil!

Ironic (1)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924653)

It's ironic, because traffic jams are frequently due to accidents caused by careless idiots talking on cell phones.

As a St. Louis commuter... (2, Interesting)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924654)

As a St. Louis commuter I can see some value in this, since almost everyone on the road is too focused on the mobile device in their right hand to use any lane change indicators! Still, I can see the privacy concerns, however, if all they're doing is monitoring how much traffic (radio waves) are in the area, it's far different than them listening in. Think about all the radio waves flying around you right now, if you had a device to tell you how much of that energy is moving around, what's the big?

Re:As a St. Louis commuter... (1)

fdrebin (846000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924925)

It'd be a hell of a lot cheaper to put a few webcams and/or simple traffic counters on the road. What IDIOT would come up with this overcomplicated... oh, wait, this is Mizzourah. Nevermind.
/F

Hasn't this appear on /. BEFORE!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924660)

Reruns reruns ... I don't like em.

My state makes me sad (2, Interesting)

MacFury (659201) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924667)

They do boneheaded things like this all too often. They are seriously considering shutting down HWY40, a major highway that connects the suburbs to the city. HWY40 doesn't have exit and on ramps that are the proper length, so they want to do construction to fix all that. If they shut that highway down it will double or triple many peoples morning commute.

Of course, if people would simply stop trying to cut everyone else off, and not drive like total pricks, there wouldn't be any problem. Not to mention the fact that the white flight has caused all these upper middle class jerks to move out of the city but still work there, burning gas for hours each day just to drive back and forth to work.

Re:My state makes me sad (2, Informative)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924936)

Ever think that maybe, just maybe, deficient highway design leads to more accidents?

Case in point — Interstate 74 [upgrade74.com] in Peoria, Illinois. Worst urban highway I've ever driven on. The signs specifically tell you to keep left so that you don't collide with merging traffic. This is after you have to keep right... so that you don't collide with merging traffic coming in from the left. This is because the ramps in this area are about 500 feet long (most modern Interstates give you about a quarter of a mile... 1600 feet) because of space issues in the 1970's. A handful of ramps were marked as 15 mph exit ramps. One of the ones I frequented had a 10 mph dead-man's U-turn.

3/4ths of the way into rebuilding, I can already tell that, thanks to modern highway design, there will be far fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the road because drivers won't have to do crazy things to get on and off the highway.

Not clean! Must wash again! (2, Funny)

TheTranceFan (444476) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924674)

Ack!! The unclosed parenthesis at the end of the OP is compelling me to wash my hands over and over. And it's not helping.

My first thought (2, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924675)

I can't be the only person whose first thought was of Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe [craphound.com] , can I?

Not that this has anything to do with music...but it's certainly a step in the direction of Doctorow's future.

Not exactly "news"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924684)

...considering that this story broke...what? Over a month ago?

Not quite a "dupe" but not "news" either.

Next I expect to hear about how Harriet Meiers isn't going to the Supreme Court...

Be careful what you assume (5, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924700)

So then, a bus full of high school teenagers with cell phones will look like a major traffic jam?

Re:Be careful what you assume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924885)

Not when sophisticated math is involved..

Ever more glad I don't have a cell phone (1)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924721)

Tracking people in traffic, tracking individual users for crimes, etc.

I gave up my cell phone awhile back and haven't been happier. If a company gives me a cell phone to use i'll use it but at least it doesnt have MY name on it.

My growing weary of cell phones began when i worked for a company who would pay you an extra amount each month to upgrade you to the higher plan and then proceed to give your personal cell phone number to all the users. (this was a desktop support position)

Suddenly you have users calling you at all times of the day and youre constantly reminding them they cant call you off hours.

Later on the layoffs came but not all of the users realized i was gone. At this point I cancelled my service (i wasn't happy with the signal quality in my area from sprint anyhow)
and I haven't been happier. ie. I no longer get those chills everytime i hear the cell phone go off.

Now with everything I hear about tracking individual users I may never own one again. I am quite happy with my landline and unlimited long distance plan. I suppose if i need it for whatever reason i can always get a prepaid cell phone.

Re:Ever more glad I don't have a cell phone (1)

honeypotslash (927312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924828)

Suddenly you have users calling you at all times of the day and youre constantly reminding them they cant call you off hours.
That is what the off button is for... Either that or caller ID, so you can only answer if it's the boss.

Re:Ever more glad I don't have a cell phone (3, Insightful)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924839)

Lucky you! Now you can go back to the exciting days of sitting at home because you are 'expecting a call!'

You get to be one of those fortunate jobhunters who 'wait by the phone!'

For some bizarre reason, when my cellphone goes off I am somehow able to ignore it... in fact, I rarely pick up my phone for any caller unless it's someone I *really* want to speak with. No caller ID? You're welcome to leave a voicemail that I may review at some point in the future.

To me, a cellphone is an enabling technology- it enables me to make and receive phone calls at my convenience. It does not force me to take work calls after hours, nor does it force me to answer it everytime it rings in a movie theater. Those are human behaviors that I can control. I guess if you can't control your own behaviors, then getting rid of the technology that enables bad behaviors is the only answer...

Ever more glad I don't have a burner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924915)

"I guess if you can't control your own behaviors, then getting rid of the technology that enables bad behaviors is the only answer..."

All you pirates ditch your burners.

Re:Ever more glad I don't have a cell phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924926)

Yeah, but don't you know "the man" can track you to your landline!

It doesn't matter (3, Interesting)

rancmeat (924113) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924724)

It doesn't matter what they say the info will be used for. The fact is they will be storing it, and as long as it exists there is the certainty that a lawyer will be able to convince a judge to use it for what it was never intended for.

Let's say the neighbor of a good friend is busted selling drugs. The DA could subpoena records that show you visiting that location on a regular basis, and suddenly you find yourself with a lot of unwanted and unwarranted attention.

It doesn't matter what the data is intended for, the collection of it opens a Pandora's box and the sincerity of the original party collecting the data becomes meaningless when the data vultures show up at the feast.

Skewed Results (2, Insightful)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924728)

The makeup of the passengers of a vehicle could greatly effect the results.

Think about it, a car full of teenagers will show several cell phone signals versus a car full of seniors or nuns which would probably have 0 cell phones inside.

Problem with the slashdot article. (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924741)

I doubt that it's just trackin 'in use' cellphones, but rather all phones that can connect to a tower (powered on)

In Solvat Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924761)

Traffic track you!

Re:In Solvat Russia... (1)

SComps (455760) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924822)

What particular Russian region is Solvat? Very agressive phones there.

Dupes (1, Informative)

adinu79 (860333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924765)

Dupes are wonderful.

missing the point... (2, Insightful)

PoPRawkZ (694140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924788)

You don't have to be using the cell phone for the cell phone to be used to monitor traffic. There is no hypocrasy here as nobody is promoting talking on cell phones while in traffic. Also, with monitoring such a large number of signals, I find it hard to believe they will be able to simultaneously figure out who is speeding. That would require multiple triangulations on each signal, requiring a much larger infrastructure. We can put away our fears of Big Brother for the moment.

Re:missing the point... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924966)

"We can put away our fears of Big Brother for the moment."

I would disagree. We should never put away our fears of Big Brother. What we consider innocuous today would have been considered outrageous breaches of privacy a couple decades ago. Incremental intrusions on our privacy are hard to stop, and saying that we can let one go because it seems harmless is exactly how that happens.

Already live in the Netherlands (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924797)

For a live version somewhere else in the world, check http://actueleverkeersinformatie.brabant.nl/ [brabant.nl] . This shows traffic density between Breda and Tilburg in the southern part of the Netherlands. Don't forget to enter the image verification code on the left!

In Soviet Missori (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924815)

In Soviet Missori cell phones track YOU!

Missouri is dumb.... (1)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924821)

Why do you want to spend all of this money on something like this when the condition of the highways in MO is extremely poor at best. This is a state where road work is 99.9% asphalt patches and 0.1% repaving horrible roads.

As for sophisticated math, 1 car + 1 car + 1 car = 3 cars. That's as good as MO ever got at math anyway.

You can put your tinfoil hats away too, if a private company is doing this there's no way cell providers are going to let them find out what name goes to what number. All they'll end up doing is picking out how many individual signals they pick up over time. Or they could use a lot less money and put those black hose wheel counters down and count the exact traffic volume, or guess using some made-up cell phone calls per car theory, but that would leave spare budget to actually fix a street from time to time.

Re:Missouri is dumb.... (1)

stlloftstyle.com (916957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924854)

Your absolutely right. Missouri's roads are not in the best of condition and this money should be spent on roads and I would highly reccomend lighting. The roads lack lighting to large stretches of I-64. Cell phones and traffic is the least of our worries. It is just anectdotal information. That is it.

Google maps with traffic (1)

Barkley44 (919010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924833)

I don't have time, but I've always thought it would be neat to integrate google maps with the latest traffic info for the city, so when u leave in the morning, you load your city and it will lists all the locations (ie. like the radio does as your drive in) with current traffic problems. So they could easily pull this info from the cell phones and show where there is heavier traffic. Perhaps someone has already done this though.

Incredible waste of money and invasion of privacy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924841)

Here in Kansas City, they've installed cameras at many of the intersections on the Kansas side of town. These cameras are for monitoring traffic flow, which is absurd because KC has very little traffic congestion. I lived in Washington for years, where there was traffic all over town during many hours of the day. In Kansas City, the highways are clogged during the predictable rush hours, but at other times it's incredibly easy to get around.

I understand that St. Louis has some severe traffic problems, but why do we need this technology to tell us what we already know? That when you drive to and from work at the same time as everybody else you will get stuck in traffic.

This money could better be spent on improving bus service and convincing employers to stagger work hours.

so what (1)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924853)

i always get a kick out of new things to detect and report traffic... when you live in an area where traffic is always bad for every route, what's to detect? you know it's going to suck and take forever to get to work. leave early.

RFID's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13924859)

everyone is worried about RFID's for tracking - this is the way big brother will do it.

What will google do? (0, Flamebait)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924860)

Use it to provide targeted, local ads on the radio and billboards?

What you say? (2, Funny)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924872)

I'm sorry but there is only one solution to all statistical problems that require tracking data. The Count from Sesame Street:

"One!! One car travelling down i90!!! Ahahahahah!!! Two!! Two cars travelling down i90!!! Ahahahahaha!!!..." ;P

You see son... (0, Troll)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924900)

this is why we keep our cellular phones powered off whenever we're not using them. So the retarted tyrants can't find us.

Legal for private companies? (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13924959)

The federal government has been twice told they cannot use cell phones to track individuals without showing probable cause [wired.com] ...I would think this would apply to state governments equally as well. Wonder how it might affect commercial applications?
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