Is my very small city really obsessed with traffic?

I’ve previously written about the traffic cameras that surround the small city in which I live. There’s no way to enter or leave the city without being filmed. In addition, I see TransCore vans on the streets every weekend. (Transcore produces RFID traffic apps.)

Now, the city has installed two dynamic message signs, similar to this:

dynamic message sign

My concern is that one of them is on a street that goes nowhere. It’s been installed on a connector road that dead ends a few miles past the sign.

It’s been displaying test signals, including one that mentions ATMS. According to Wikipedia, ATMS stands for Advanced Traffic Management System:

The Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) field is a primary subfield within the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) domain. The ATMS view is a top-down management perspective that integrates technology primarily to improve the flow of vehicle traffic and improve safety. Real-time traffic data from cameras, speed sensors, etc. flows into a Transportation Management Center (TMC) where it is integrated and processed (e.g. for incident detection), and may result in actions taken (e.g. traffic routing, DMS messages) with the goal of improving traffic flow. The National ITS Architecture defines the following primary goals and metrics for ITS:

  • Increase transportation system efficiency,
  • Enhance mobility,
  • Improve safety,
  • Reduce fuel consumption and environmental cost,
  • Increase economic productivity, and
  • Create an environment for an ITS market.

Agenda 21 alert: “Reduce fuel consumption and environmental cost” and “Increase economic productivity”. In other words, this technology helps us save the environment while saving or making money. It also creates an environment for an ITS market, which means it makes money for them.

According to the Wikipedia article, in the 1980s a group of government, private sector, and university folks got together to decide the future of transportation. They ended up calling themselves ITS America and their goal was to “Help save lives, time and money and sustain the environment through broad deployment of interoperable ITS technologies.” It’s actually a lobby group.

ITS America has developed outreach, advocacy and position statements that promote the societal, technical and political benefits of ITS. ITS America will continue to serve as the independent, primary authority for ITS-related congressional and regulatory affairs, promote wide-spread deployment of ITS to key policy makers and the public at large, and form strategic alliances with other organizations and stakeholders to further promote its message.

They promote technology that will make money for them.

Agenda 21 Alert: The first legislation the group influenced, which was signed into law by George H.W. Bush, “had a primary goal of providing ‘the foundation for the nation to compete in the global economy’.” A second bill was signed into law by George W. Bush. According to Wikipedia:

The $286.4 billion measure contained a host of provisions and earmarks intended to improve and maintain the surface transportation infrastructure in the United States, including the interstate highway system, transit systems around the country, bicycling and pedestrian facilities, and freight rail operations.

Congress renewed its funding formulas ten times after its expiration date, until replacing the bill with Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act in 2012.

Interestingly, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a program with the acronym PRISM that targets commercial vehicles. “The PRISM program has proven to be an effective means of motivating motor carriers to improve their compliance and performance deficiencies.” They do this by collecting information on drivers and vehicles.

In 2011, the 18th ITS World Congress was held in Orlando, Florida.

The US DOT’s ITS program focuses on intelligent vehicles, intelligent infrastructure and the creation of an intelligent transport system through integration with and between these two components.

In this system, traffic info can show up in your car (such as, “accident on Main Street”) and info about traffic is sent to people who can change the timing of traffic lights, etc. At least that’s what they say in order to sell it to us. There’s a PDF overview of the event available here.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the PDF:

world congress 1 world congress 2

The government can’t keep its evil hands off our electronic info. It’s probably salivating at the thought of collecting the data emanating from our cars. Imagine a day when speeders will be caught through electronic data, rather than radar guns. (What will police do with all that extra time on their hands?) Imagine an automated system that will collect data from your car and charge your speeding fine to your credit card.

So, what does all this have to do with my small city? Why does such a small place need all this technology? Busier, more populated areas in the county don’t have the cameras and fancy traffic signs.

There’s something really creepy about having government cameras installed throughout your neighborhood and then suddenly seeing one of their message signs erected over a road that goes nowhere. Especially when your neighborhood’s a seemingly unimportant place in the middle of nowhere.

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