Seattle Dept. of Transportation is following your phone across downtown Seattle

big brother Seattle’s Department of Transportation is now using Wi-Fi readers to track your mobile devices across the city.
While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, it’s actually part of an effort to improve your drive.
The small, nondescript discs are sitting on the top of junction or electrical boxes all over downtown. The city has been installing them all year, adding a layer of coverage to its travel time calculator.
When a Wi-Fi enabled device passes by, the tracker recognizes it, changes any personal data into a unique new profile, and then keeps pinging the device until it leaves the grid. It tells traffic managers how long it took, in real time, for the device to make the trip.
“How can we make the system smarter and react to actual, real-time impacts or changes that are happening?” asks Adiam Emory, who manages the city’s transportation operations center. The new Wi-Fi discs are the answer.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a system than can adapt to real-time travel times and tweak signals and other systems to help traffic flow better in downtown Seattle.
“It lets you know how your system is reacting to things and how well it’s doing, where your chokepoints are and where you need to improve your system,” Emory said.
Now the elephant in the room: privacy. Who told the City of Seattle it’s OK to track phones through the streets? What is it doing with the data?
Emory said the data isn’t stored or encrypted, which can be hacked. Instead, the tracking software changes the phone or tablet’s identity. “The moment it takes your data, it would do what we call, ‘hash it,'” Emory said. “It turns it into a different unique identifier that’s not related to [the device].”
She said it’s just a new and improved way to track cars over the current system, which uses license plate readers. “Our interest is not knowing where individuals are,” Emory said. “It’s gathering the data to support the transportation network. So transportation doesn’t have any interest in identifying people. We want to get data to understand our network and enhance it.”
There are currently 200 of the Wi-Fi antennas throughout the city, with more on the way.

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well, you can’t trust ALL those liberals there!

Auntie Lulu
Auntie Lulu

I think this is really creepy! Who in the world wants any government tracking you for any reason? Great post!

Dr. Eowyn

While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, it’s actually part of an effort to improve your drive.


…and they’re NOT going to keep your info-JUST like the NSA and other Government entities swore to gun buyers before getting their Background Checks,that as soon as approval or denial was made they’d delete ALL the buyers’ personal info. Sure-okay,what could possibly go wrong here? No reason not to trust them,is there? (sarc)


Turn the things off and remove the batteries. Better yet, leave them at home.