Monthly Archives: October 2011
Trains in India are about to take a major technological step forward. The Indian Railways have begun implementing a new program called Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS), using GPS tracking technology. Trains are not exactly a new technology. Transportation has seen many improvements since the train, including the obvious jets and airplanes.
However, this technology remains quite useful and relevant in the modern age. Traveling by train is typically quite a bit cheaper than flying, and in some places, trains are still the best way to get to your destination. One of the ways trains have remained so useful, is that they are periodically upgraded with new advices in technology. GPS tracking is simply the latest technology to be implemented in train travel.
Unlike some of the other technological make-overs that the train has seen, such as coal and steam engines to combustable engines, GPS tracking doesn’t improve the speed or cost of travel. It does, however, greatly improve the travelers experience. One problem that many travelers run into are train delays. Delays happen with just about any mode of transportation, and trains are no exception.
The RTIS is expected to hugely improve on the Indian Railway’s existing Train Running Information System, which mostly works on estimated arrival times. As the name suggests, the RTIS allows travelers to view the real-time location of trains, and have access to more accurate information about their train’s arrival.
The RTIS was co-developed by Lucknow, the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), and Kanpur, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). A few trains have already implemented the new system, and reports say that it is working successfully so far. Passengers of these trains now have access to their train’s location, whether or not the train is running on time, and if it’s late, then by how much. The system also provides information about the distance each train is in kilometers in respect to the next stop. RTIS will be adding trains in waves, and is expected to be completed by December of 2012.
Stalking is an incredibly invasive and terrifying assault on a person’s space and privacy. This type of behavior is nothing new, but it has evolved over time. With new technology, comes new methods of stalking people. No technology since the telephone has made it easier to stalk someone, than GPS tracking. Although GPS tracking has contributed a great deal to modern society, there is a darker side to the increased visibility provided by these devices.
With increased visibility, emergency response teams have a better chance of saving lives, air traffic control can more accurately prevent devastating crashes, but there is also a significant toll on one’s privacy. Unfortunately, a San Diego resident is all too familiar with the cost of GPS tracking technology.
A former boyfriend and Navy officer, Michael Lutz, plead guilty to using GPS tracking and other methods to stalk a woman, whose identity will remain protected. Lutz made hundreds of calls to his victim’s cell phone after she told him that their relationship was over.
She even went so far as to have a restraining order placed on him, which unfortunately didn’t stop him from continuing to harass her. He used the GPS tracking information on her cell phone to watch her every move. He also illegally installed a program on her computer to spy on her internet usage.
Lutz actually went so far as to chase his victim through a shopping mall, into the women’s bathroom. Locking herself in a stall wasn’t enough to stop Lutz, who crawled under the stall to confront her.
Lutz was eventually apprehended by authorities and faces up to five years in prison. He was scheduled for sentencing on Monday, October 17, 2011, but it was delayed when his attorneys suggested that their client may qualify for psychiatric evaluation. GPS stalking is not likely to go anywhere any time soon, and is something that everyone should be made aware of. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Justice Department, an estimated 25 thousand adults in the U.S. are victims of GPS stalking every year. You can avoid being a part of this staggering statistic, by carefully choosing your relationships and the information you share online.
Using a GPS tracker to track sex offenders isn’t a new concept. GPS tracking bracelets have been used effectively to monitor minor offenders. However, when it comes to tracking sex offenders, people often get uneasy.
The concept of tracking sex offenders with GPS tracking bracelets has been advocated by many police officers and judicial officials, including Tim Hudak. Hudak, an Ontario PC leader, has announced a plan to use GPS trackers on registered sex offenders.
There are currently 14,000 registered sex offenders living in Ontario, and police feel that tracking bracelets are their only chance to monitor these offenders. These tracking bracelets would alert police officers if registered sex offenders got too close to schools or playgrounds. Other areas could also be labeled as off limits territories and offenders could also be required to stay within a certain area.
Many people are concerned about using GPS trackers to keep track of sex offenders, because they are not minor offenders. Registered sex offenders could not be tracked for their entire lives, which is probably what most of the public would prefer. The tracking bracelets would only be used for the length of the sentence. Since the monitoring would only be temporary, many people believe that the money could be better spent on other programs and services that would increase public safety. These programs could give counseling and treatment to offenders to help them correct the mistakes in their lives.
Tracking a minor offender with a GPS bracelet is much cheaper than keeping a minor offender in jail. However, tracking all of the registered sex offenders in a given area would not be saving the state any money. In reality, tracking sex offenders would cost the state a huge amount of money. The estimated cost for Hudak’s proposal is $51 million. And yet, this program is not guaranteed to make the public any safer.
Recent break-ins in West Newbury have alerted residents to the need to protect themselves and their homes. Local communities have seen more home and car break-ins recently than in the past years.
The three most recent crimes all occurred within the same week, and according to Police Sgt. Dan Cena, the crimes took place in the afternoon. Suspects entered through windows in the rear of the homes. In one case, the window was broken. In all three crimes, the thieves escaped with valuable electronics and jewelry from the home. The thieves did not leave any prints.
Police officers urge residents to take all possible precautions against break-ins. Residents should keep all doors and windows locked. If they do not already have an alarm system installed, residents should purchase one and make sure the alarm is turned on whenever they leave the home.
Residents should lock up firearms, jewelry, and credit cards in a safe. They should also keep paperwork that shows the serial numbers of their expensive electronics, so they can be tracked in case of theft. Residents should also be sure to photograph any jewelry and have expensive items insured under their homeowner’s policy.
Cena also warns residents against posting information about a vacation to their Facebook account or other online venue. Even a post about going shopping or going out for dinner could alert a thief that the property will be vacant for a few hours.
Cena also encourages residents who will be away from home for an extended period of time to inform the police station and have their home placed on an “away listing.” Then the police officers will be able to check these homes regularly to make sure everything is secure. Residents who want to be put on the away listing should inform the police station of the dates they will be away, any vehicles they will leave in the driveway, any lights that they will leave on, and any people who are expected to be on the property.
Protecting the Community
The police station encourages the entire community to be watchful and to report anything that seems out of the ordinary. Cena assures the residents that police officers would rather be alerted of a possible problem that turns out to be nothing than to have more break-ins. Residents who see suspicious vehicles should right down information about the car, such as the license plate number and the make and model, as well as a description of the people inside.
Richard Delgado stole the identities of 300,000 people. One victim related his identity theft story to a U.S. Postal Inspector. That inspector then tracked down Delgado by looking at Delgado’s Facebook page. The page contained a cell phone number, which the inspector then used to track Delgado’s whereabouts. After linking Delgado to a number of identity theft crimes, police arrested the California resident.Some are up in arms about this use of GPS tracking while others believe that using GPS technology in this manner is necessary. acebook often comes under fire for its lack of privacy, but is this lack of privacy justified when information contained on someone’s Facebook page leads to a criminal’s arrest? In this specific case, the postal inspector who tracked down Delgado did not need to ask Facebook’s permission to access the page. Instead, Delgado listed his cell phone number in plain sight. In other cases, authorities have worked with social networks to find out certain details about suspected criminals.On the flip side, banks, creditors, and other financial institutions often use Facebook (and other networks) to gain information about individuals. Recently, this type of “social snooping” has been outlawed, but that doesn’t mean that someone who wants to know about you isn’t taking a long and hard look at your Internet footsteps.The public seems to be torn over the use of GPS tracking as well. In some instances, using GPS trackers to hunt down criminals is publicly approved. In other instances, the use of GPS tracking without a person’s consent (or proper search warrant) is frowned upon. At the time of this writing, no clear laws exist when it comes to tracking down suspected criminals, though it can be said that the 300,000 victims (mostly seniors) who Delgado targeted are happy that both Facebook and warrantless tracking exist.
GPS technology pops up in just about every industry imaginable. Whether it’s fishing, oil delivery, or even dog walking, you’ll find a GPS device perfectly suited to your specific needs.Apparently, drug smugglers have also caught on to the capabilities of GPS tracking. Say what? Drug smugglers? As Jeffrey Scott of the DEA states, “There is no honor among thieves and even less trust. These kind of tracking devices are a way for bad guys who don’t trust each other…to work together.” While the smuggling may be illegal, the tracking via GPS device or GPS enabled cell phone is not. Most often, the devices are used to prove whether or not the expensive stash made it to its intended location.Authorities all over the US are finding GPS devices hidden in stashes, and they can take any form. They’ve seen high-end GPS devices which send instant details to the criminal’s laptop as to the whereabouts of the load, and even a simple cell phone which gives a less precise location based on the phone’s proximity to cell phone towers. Some of these tracking devices are able to send the criminal a text message if the drugs happen to stray from the predestinated route.DEA agents have found these devices in many different loads of a variety of drugs, and have even found them hidden in express mail packages containing marijuana. Authorities have also found trackers in stashes of cash such as back in May, when a tracker was hidden in the dash of a car from Texas carrying $72,680.One would assume that authorities could use GPS technology against drug lords, though this method of tracking trapping hasn’t always worked out. Not too long ago, police noted that the vehicle of a busted drug smuggler had been stopped for a long time, but police decided to ignore GPS data, since the vehicle was too close to the police station – authorities decided that this smuggler was best left alone.
With all the controversy surrounding GPS tracking and the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, it can be tempting to fall into a cynical mindset around police surveillance. However, it’s important to remember how useful GPS tracking really is, especially for law enforcement. If your stolen vehicle or laptop computer is equipped with GPS, police can use that information to return your property. Even more importantly, when an armed suspect is on the loose, with enough information, police can use the suspect’s smart phone to track and bring him or her into custody. That was exactly what happened to an armed, 74-year-old shooting suspect in Connecticut.At around 11:30 a.m., on October 10th, 2011, police were called to a home in South Meriden in Connecticut, after shots were fired within the home. According to the police report, an elderly man had fired shots at his son before fleeing the scene. On Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, Meriden police issued a teletype nationwide, asking for help in locating the suspect.
According to their sources, he would be driving a blue Chevrolet Express Van and provided police with the Connecticut license plate number. The alert also noted that the suspect was considered armed and dangerous, and may be carrying a .38-caliber handgun.
By 2:30 p.m., Fairfax State Police alerted the Chesapeake Division that Meriden officers had accessed the suspects phone and would initiate GPS tracking. Only a half hour later, police spotted a blue Chevrolet Express Van heading north in Greensville County. Officers stopped the van. According to Sgt. Michelle Anaya, State Police spokeswoman, the suspect was arrested without incident.
He was also wanted on a few outstanding warrants in Meriden and was charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge. He will be extradited to Connecticut, where is bail is set at $250,000.
The Queensland government is putting their money where their mouth is. Premeir Kristina Keneally unveiled a complex plan to combat sexual and domestic violence, which would cost the state an estimated $15.6 million. $13.7 million of which will be delegated to fitting GPS tracking devices to high-risk sex offenders in the region, over four years. The Queensland government has been in talks for more than a year of enforcing 24/7 surveillance of the worst tier of sex offenders, but only recently were awarded a contract which would supply them with the required GPS devices.
According to Queensland’s corrective services minister, Neil Roberts, ABAKUS Elmotech will be Queensland Correctional Services (QCS) primary GPS supplier beginning in November of 2011. “As part of the procurement process, QCS conducted a week-long trial [that]. . . tested four GPS devices in a range of areas and under a number of conditions,” said Roberts. “This included testing exclusion zones, which when fitted to offenders will include places such as schools, to test whether an alert would be sent to QCS.”
Roberts stressed that the testing process for the devices was incredibly thorough. “QCS also tested the signal strength of devices in areas such as the city, tunnels and regional locations.” He goes on to explain that in addition to recording the offender’s movements along with the established alert system, the GPS signals will be monitored by a dedicated, trained team around the clock. “All sex offenders fitted with GPS will be tracked on a 24/7 basis, with a specialist surveillance team working around the clock to monitor their movements,” said Roberts.
The Queensland government is also following through on its promise made in early 2011, to require GPS tracking of high-risk domestic violence offenders. Although tracking sex offenders took a higher priority over domestic violence offenders, law makers know that protecting the state’s children also includes protecting them from violence in their own homes. As of now, the government is working on negotiations to give state courts the power to enforce GPS tracking on the more violent domestic cases.
No one can forget the tragic assassination of America’s president John F. Kennedy. Shot down in a motorcade, Kennedy’s death heightened concerns about the security of motorcades across the world; however, motorcade attacks continue to the present day. Prince Charles of England was recently attacked in a motorcade by college students protesting recent decisions about tuition hikes. Jordan’s King Abdullah II was also attacked during a motorcade after unpopular policy decisions had been announced. Women are not safe either; a motorcade transporting the first lady of Iraq was brought under attack when a roadside bomb went off.In the densely populated cities of India, where processions are a vital part of every aspect of life, it is hard to keep track of an official motorcade or procession, especially during festival times when literally millions of people crowd the streets for singing and dancing. Mumbai ranks among the world’s most populous cities with a population of almost 20.5 million people, and Mumbai is also the business capital of India; therefore, extra safety precautions are an absolute necessity, especially during Ganpati Visarjan.This year, during the extended festivities that honor Ganesh, the elephant deity worshipped by millions, Mumbai launched a new means of monitoring popular processions and protecting important Ganesh mandals. Partnering with Geodesic, India’s premier communications and technology company, Mumbai combined GPS technology with mounted cameras to track the movements of 25-50 official processions. Zoning deputy commissioners identified the most sensitive mandals in their jurisdictions for the trial.By using GPS tracking devices with real-time feeds back to a central command post, traffic officials could identify where a procession was in its designated route or whether it was stalled. Also, if a vehicle strayed from its assigned path, an alert would be sent to senior officials; then the car could be traced to its location without detrimental loss of time.
Cameras mounted on the inside of the cars could capture video or still shots, taking pictures every 30 seconds. Able to use a flash, these cameras would be vital links to anything that happened in and around the vehicle for investigative purposes. Because these cameras are weather-resistant, they can also be mounted on the outside of the vehicles for better views in crowd scenes. They are also small enough to be mounted on a bicycle, which is a more practical way of negotiating through hordes of people.
Motorcades carrying leaders and officials will always be popular, but they will also always be a target for disgruntled citizens and protesters. With the use of GPS technology, police and security details will be better equipped to protect those under their jurisdiction.
Out of roughly seventy-five motorcycle riders competing in the 2011 Hoka Hey Challenge held on August 5th, only eleven qualified for potential prizes. The Hoka Hey, in its second year, is a challenging 14,000 mile motorcycle race starting in Phoenix, AZ and ending in Nova Scotia, Canada. The course traverses 48 states and 2 Canadian provinces. The event features strict rules and guidelines, with racers asked to follow a specific course. Deviation from this course results in losing a chance at winning cash or prizes, although the rider will still receive recognition as a racer.This year’s race featured the use of GPS tracking devices to assure that each motorcycle followed the course to the letter. Not only could event organizers track the whereabouts of the participants, friends and family cheering them on from home could check on their progress at any given time using the official Hoka Hey website as well.
Despite the addition of the devices, racers were subject to a polygraph exam in Mesa, AZ, upon completion of the event. This is due to the fact that although the device let officials know how fast the racers were traveling at any point, they had no way of knowing what the speed limit is in any given location. The rules explicitly state that competitors must obey all laws throughout the event. The polygraph assures that rules and laws were obeyed, and officials checked along the course route to see if any speeding tickets or other forms of moving vehicle violations had been issued.
There are many ways to be disqualified from a shot at winning prizes, including using a sidecar, carrying a passenger without a doctor’s note stating a driver is disabled in some way, having friends or family meet you anywhere along the way that is not an authorized checkpoint, and even sleeping in a hotel room. Participants are asked to only sleep outside, in a tent, unless a doctor’s note is provided.
2011 Hoka Hey riders met on October 8th in Mesa, AZ, to celebrate their amazing accomplishment together. It is interesting to note that even though 11 riders qualified to win prizes, not a single rider actually took a prize home. The only thing they received was compensation for their expenses when traveling to take the polygraph.
Organizers of the challenge plan to modify the course for 2012, shortening it by half the distance, to allow more riders the chance to compete. Applications will be available on the official Hoka Hey website at some point in November.