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Boston Police Stop Scanning Registration Plates, For Now 110

Posted by timothy
from the expurgated-version dept.
Ars Technica reports that after journalists gained access to a database readout showing a sample of the data gathered by the 14 registration plate scanners that had been in use by the Boston police and analyzed some of that data with embarrassing results, the police force has announced it will suspend use of the scanners indefinitely. Among other things, the data dump (which was not quite as thoroughly scrubbed as the police department had intended it to be) showed that a stolen motorcycle was detected by the cameras 59 times and red-flagged, but evidently no action was taken to recover it.
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Boston Police Stop Scanning Registration Plates, For Now

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  • by Phyrexia (55710) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @06:39PM (#45691467) Homepage

    From TFA:

    One Harley Davidson motorcycle that had been reported stolen passed license plate scanners a total of 59 times between Oct. 19, 2012, and March 13, 2013. It was often recorded on sequential days or multiple times in a single day, all by the same scanner and almost always within the same half-hour span in the early evening.

    The issue here is not cyclists driving like assholes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 14, 2013 @07:02PM (#45691565)

    Or closing down the entire city, costing untold billions of dollars is lost productivity, to fail to catch an unarmed, injured teenager. One that they had literally been flat-out told was planning a terrorist attack prior to said attack, but was entirely ignored until after they caught him and realized they'd been told to watch out for him. That's Boston Strong.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @07:13PM (#45691629) Journal
    The problem is not the scanners are producing wrong reports or misreading the plates. Looks like no one is bothering to follow up on the alerts triggered by these scanners. Apparently the police were more interested in trying to detect movement of people, though the systems was allegedly installed to report stolen vehicles. Even the ars technica report is more than a year old. May be the police are just slow, to react to anything, from the scanner report to ars technica.

    Anyway the license plate scanners are not going to work. There was this news report about some precocious teens, taking a picture of the license plate of a teacher they did not like, printing it, pasting it over their own number plates and went through several red-light cameras and triggered a number of tickets for that poor teacher. So it ain't gonna work. Criminals are two steps ahead of the cops, they will easy mark some sap and pass the blame on them, use these cameras to create iron-clad alibi etc. Glad it is gone.

  • Re:Boston PD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @10:26PM (#45692461)

    That's nothing compared to Claude Shannon's master's thesis which laid out the use of boolean logic to solve general problems.

    Here's a list (just from MIT, which is one of the 100 or so universities in Metro Boston).

    1802 -- Modern navigation -- Bowditch
    1886 -- Management consulting -- Little
    1901 -- Disposable safety razor -- Gillette et al.
    1914 -- "Tech"nicolor -- Founded in Boston by Kalmus et al.
    1919 -- Trans-Atlantic aircraft -- Hunsaker et al.
    1929- -- Instant photography (Polaroid) -- Land
    1931 -- Stroboscopy -- Edgerton, Germeshausen et al.
    1937 -- Use of Boolean logic to design "digital" circuits -- Shannon
    1940-45 -- Practical radar -- Anglo-American military collaboration at MIT
    1944 -- Mark I/II computers and first computer "bug" -- Aiken, Hopper et al.
    1945 -- Hypertext -- Vannevar Bush
    1951 -- Huffman code
    1951 -- Random access memory ("core")-- Project Whirlwind
    1953 -- PET scan -- Brownell
    1953- -- Doppler radar -- Gordon
    1956- -- Chomsky hierarchy
    1957- -- Generative grammar -- Chomsky
    1957 -- Confocal microscope -- MInsky
    1957-61 -- Time-sharing (and some of what we now call virtualization) -- Project MAC
    1958 -- LISP -- McCarthy
    1961 -- Chaos theory -- Lorenz (and many others)
    1961-2 -- Digital videogame (Spacewar!) -- Graetz, Russel, Wiitanen, Kotok
    1963 -- CAD -- Sutherland
    1964 -- Minicomputer -- DEC
    1964-5 -- Electronic mail -- Van Vleck / Morris on CTSS (also network email, Tomlinson in 1971)
    1969 -- Apollo guidance computer that navigated to and landed on moon -- Instrumentation (now Draper) Laboratory
    1970-90 -- Object-oriented programming and data hiding -- Liskov (and many others)
    1972 -- Packet-switching and ARPANET -- Kahn, BBN, etc.
    1973 -- Black-Scholes option pricing model -- Black, Scholes, Merton
    1978 -- Practical public-key cryptography (RSA) -- Rivest, Shamir, Adelman
    1979 -- Spreadsheet -- Bricklin and Frankston
    1981-89 -- Copyleft/sharealike, GNU and free software movement -- Stallman
    1995- - E-ink -- Jacobsen et al.
    2000 -- Zipcar -- Danielson, Chase

  • Re:Pretty obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Smauler (915644) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:33AM (#45692907)

    I don't believe, in the UK that the police are that corrupt, and I'm more cynical than most with regards to the UK police. What I _do_ believe is that with the laws that are on the books today, most people can be guilty of a crime, and police _do_ selectively arrest. Part of the problem is that police assume that they are deserved of "respect" above and beyond that of normal citizens... you see this all the time on police shows, telling them to fuck off gets you arrested. Telling normal people to fuck off gets you ignored mostly, or hit sometimes. You don't get arrested.

    It's a consistent theme with police following programmes - you show us respect, or you get arrested. Fuck that shit.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries