If Google Glass is too conspicuous for you, try something more subtle. How about loading street lights with sensors? In Chicago, decorative metal pieces on Michigan Avenue street lights are being fitted with sensors that will measure things like air quality and wind, while also counting passersby.
The Chicago Tribune reports that starting in July, the hidden sensors will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, and wind. They will also use the wireless signals from cellphones and other mobile devices to count people going by. The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are collaborating on the project, which will hopefully provide really specific information about how bad pollution gets in specific parts of the city, or where the inefficiencies are in an intersection.
Computer scientist Charlie Catlett told the Tribune that the system has been carefully designed to collect highly anonymized data, and that there is no interest in singling out individuals or identifying cellphone owners. “Our intention is to understand cities better,” Catlett said. “Part of the goal is to make these things essentially a public utility.”
If the program data are useful, the initiative may expand or become a permanent fixture. Things could get a little weird though. Will people who carry a smartphone and a tablet be labeled a public nuisance for skewing the pedestrian counts?
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.