June 12, 2003
Sensors On Vehicles Will Detect Traffic Congestion Levels

In the San Francisco Bay area of California commuters put an electronic device - essentially a form of radio frequency ID or RFID - on their cars that allows them to automatically pay tolls. Those devices are going to be detected by antennas that will be installed on literally hundreds of millions of Bay Area freeways in order to track how quickly cars move from one sensing antenna to the next one. This will be done to measure and report traffic congestion and traffic speeds in real time.

Using small electronic antennas under overpasses and on signs, the system will calculate freeway speeds by tracking drivers' FasTrak units -- devices that pay bridge tolls electronically.

As a FasTrak device passes by one of 150 roadside sensors, an electronic signature will be entered into a government database and then scanned repeatedly as the vehicle passes other sensors

Note the pattern here. An electronic ID device tracking is adopted for one uncontroversial purpose and goes into widespread use. Then new uses are proposed. Unless a large public outcry ensues the tracking devices are checked for at more locations and for more purposes. The cost of collecting data to track the movement of people and things will steadily decline and the collected data will be put to a steadily increasing number of uses.

There are safeguards in this use of FasTrak to prevent highway sensors from reporting the identity of the individual vehicles whose speeds are being measured. But I bet those safeguards could be lifted with just a firmware revision to prevent the scrambling and encryption of the vehicle identities.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 June 12 01:48 PM  Surveillance Society

John said at June 13, 2003 7:07 PM:

Yank it off, problem solved, until that becomes illegal too....

Then again, don't take much to change a chip. The market has a need, the need gets filled.

namit khannna said at July 3, 2004 4:16 AM:

Dear Sir,
We are intersted in buying some sensors of cars.We will be grateful to you if you give us brief discussion of some of your sensors,their applications.their use in multiplexing,their cost as soon as possible

Namit Khanna

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