Chicago to Implement Street Pole Spy Boxes in the Name of ‘Safety’

Civic infrastructure’ disguised as artwork will collect ‘real-time’ data about city life

Julie Wilson
Activist Post

Planners from the Urban Center for Computation and Data, part of a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, are implementing a project called “Array of things,” in which spy boxes disguised on light poles will collect data.

The project involves installing “curled metal fixtures,” or data-collecting-sensor boxes, throughout Michigan Avenue, a swanky part of Chicago. Funded by Argonne, the installed systems will count pedestrians “by observing cell phone traffic,” presumably via users’ Wi-Fi-network.

Researchers stated the data-collecting-sensors, which are subtly disguised as fancy artwork, will also record air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, in order to make the city “safer.”

Attempting to quell developing concerns from privacy advocates, computer scientist Charlie Catlett affirmed that planners took precaution when designing the sensors, ensuring that the equipment can only “count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.”

Scientists insist the technology is necessary in order to keep Chicago a “more efficient and cleaner place to live,” and to facilitate and encourage “innovation.”

Despite developer’s affirmations, history shows the public has been blatantly misled on the capabilities and uses of advanced surveillance technology, and always in the name of “safety” and “security.”

Read More

Recent Posts