Wednesday, May 05, 2010

That Next Dust-Storm? Look Carefully

Interesting, in a way. George Orwell NEVER dreamed of this.

In the 1990s, a researcher named Kris Pister dreamed up a wild future in which people would sprinkle the Earth with countless tiny sensors, no larger than grains of rice.

These "smart dust" particles, as he called them, would monitor everything, acting like electronic nerve endings for the planet. Fitted with computing power, sensing equipment, wireless radios and long battery life, the smart dust would make observations and relay mountains of real-time data about people, cities and the natural environment.

Now, a version of Pister's smart dust fantasy is starting to become reality.

...a company called Streetline has installed 12,000 sensors on parking spots and highways in San Francisco. The sensors don't know everything that's going on at those parking spots. They are equipped with magnetometers to sense whether or not a huge metal object -- hopefully a car -- is sitting on the spot

The essay mentions a number of other examples of sensor-deployment AND mentions that it won't be too difficult to tie them all together in a (super-duper-extra-large) DB someplace.

..."It's a very, very, very huge potential privacy invasion because we're talking about very, very small sensors that can be undetectable, effectively," said Lee Tien, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate.

"They are there in such numbers that you really can't do anything about them in terms of easy countermeasures."

Of course, if that DB belongs to DHS, there will be no concerns at all.

If you're a terrorist bomber.

HT: BayouRMan

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