License Plate Scanners Hidden in Fake Cactus

The city of Paradise Valley, AZ, is hiding license plate scanners in fake cactus plants.

Posted on May 14, 2015 at 6:18 AM • 19 Comments

Comments

WmMay 14, 2015 6:53 AM

Um, what is this script about on your site this morning?


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Bob S.May 14, 2015 6:56 AM

I wouldn't live there, given a choice.

The thing is, people who do live there already were not given a choice. Even if a majority oppose community mass surveillance they will have to fight very hard and long to get their privacy back. Meanwhile, their opposition is the government itself.

I suspect the majority don't care or support losing their right to privacy and freedom from government intrusion. Americans have been taught to fear everything these days, except the government, apparently.

Bob S.May 14, 2015 7:06 AM

Social Share Privacy is a jQuery plugin that lets you add social share buttons to your website that don't allow the social sites to track your users.

Created by Mathias Panzenböck, Austria.

I trust Bruce to do the right thing by his users.

keinerMay 14, 2015 7:39 AM

"He says they’re trying to make the cameras aesthetically pleasing"

YEAH! Happy slaves should live in nice places and with there chains coloured in pink or so!

"Aesthetically pleasing" Newspeak at its best!

John CampbellMay 14, 2015 8:16 AM

The jokes just write themselves, don't they?

Truth in advertising! The cameras are operated by a bunch of pr!cks...

kingsnakeMay 14, 2015 8:18 AM

Living in Phoenix, I can attest that the last thing you want to is commit any sort of vehicular offense in Paradise Valley. There are all kinds of traffic cameras, everywhere, including multiple mobile vans that are in different places every day. It just doesn't pay to commit traffic violations there. (A lesson my Paradise Valley resident father seems not to have learned ... *eye roll* :-)

kingsnakeMay 14, 2015 8:22 AM

p.s. Regarding living there ... It is the wealthiest neighborhood in the Phoenix area. Our version of Beverly Hills, complete with movie stars, high end resorts, music stars, sports stars, top surgeons, and big corporate cheeses. They like the extra security and safety. Keeps the riff raff out (for the most part). It's not simply a case of The Man sticking it to The Sheeple ...

Dean May 14, 2015 8:46 AM

from the ars version

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/05/arizona-towns-new-license-plate-readers-aim-to-reduce-already-rare-burglaries/

Earlier this year, Ars obtained 4.6 million LPR records collected by the police in Oakland, California, over four years and learned that just 0.16 percent of those reads were "hits." We discovered that such data is incredibly revelatory—we were even able to find the city block where a member of the city council lives using nothing but the database, a related data visualization tool, and his license plate number.

So anyone who can get a job as a cop there probably can pretty well map the movements of any rich person there. Who is having an affair. Who is secretly visiting titty bars. Who is visiting drug dealers.

"I'll be looking for higher clearance rates related to burglaries," he said. "Or just a reduction in the number of burglaries. There's probably some deterrent in terms of knowing it’s there."

Putting my thief hat on, when I hear this kind of statement, I think this means they will put less resources on cops. Give cops more reason to be lulled. Just make sure your license plate can't be read or is fake, and they are not going to get you. Actually would be a better place to target then similar areas not relying on automation.

@kingsnake

They like the extra security and safety. Keeps the riff raff out (for the most part). It's not simply a case of The Man sticking it to The Sheeple ...

Every high income area likes extra security and safety. I would agree sounds like something the residents would think they want. But I think the automation would tend to lull the cops more. Kind of like when workers are replaced by automation.

Riff raff doesn't think about this kind of thing and high income thieves know how to evade these systems.

As an additional layer as a layered security approach, and considering it sounds like residents want this - these areas the residents own the cops, exact opposite of ghetto areas - probably good stuff, though I would expect that it probably would be a boon for well prepared thieves.

But maybe help catch some "riff raff" that just were trying to score some extra crack money. Though after the fact. And they are not the kind that stay out of prison long even if they do get away with it.


Bob S.May 14, 2015 8:58 AM

@kingsnake

Re: "Keeps the riff raff out..."

Depends on what you consider riff raff.

RoehnerMay 14, 2015 9:01 AM

Again, the basic problem here is the government mandated display of unique 'License Plates' themselves. All such plates should be abolished -- then all the outrageously intrusive surveillance practices associated with them vanish.

License Plates originally performed a simple administrative function indicating that vehicles were certified as safe to operate on public roads. Such safety certification does not require a prominent, unique identifier on every vehicle -- a simple windshield decal, or glovebox registration slip would perform just as well if the vehicles safety certification was questioned.

Dean May 14, 2015 9:32 AM

@Roehner

'no license plates anymore'

Too easy for people who crash to just drive off. Why shouldn't they without a license plate. And people tend to be really crappy drivers in the first place. This would only increase that tendency.

'Certified as safe on public roads' -- just because that was why they originally were created (if that is an accurate statement) does not mean that is the major reason now for them. Certification for this is performed by decals. If you want to go way way out there "libertarian", I am surprised you are not against that.

Every state has different regulations on "safe for the road" and those rules keep expanding. The poor suffer bad under many of these regulations. They either have to cheat or often take their vehicle as a loss as soon as it does not meet some minor requirements.

Not unlike how traffic tickets and their requirements are far weighted against the poor over the rich.

License plates, on the other hand, I really can not think of a valid complaint for.


Bill StewartMay 14, 2015 11:04 AM

The obvious response to this problem would be to put fake owls in front of the cameras, which also keeps pigeons away.

albertMay 14, 2015 11:13 AM

Again, this is sort of a micro example of blanket surveillance. It's hard to argue against prosecuting folks for traffic violations, especially given the 30,000 or so deaths on US highways every year. It is the certain abuse of the system that everyone objects to. Citizens concerned about this might review Arizonas amazingly strict Native Plant protection laws to see if those cameras violate them. They might have to resort to fake cacti, like those fake palm trees (lights optional:)
.
$2,000,000 is a lot for a town of 13,000 to spend for traffic cameras. Wonder what the payback is? If there are any real investigative reporters in AZ, they should look into those contracts.
.
Regarding license plates. I've been a fan of "Wheeler Dealers" (the car show from England*) for years. I've discerned a few things. 1. The idea of a unique vehicle registration number for the life of the car. 2. The incredible detail of MOT inspections. Both good ideas.
.
...
*I'm getting used to 'England' instead of 'UK', since the 'K' doesn't seem so 'U' lately.

Marcos El MaloMay 14, 2015 12:42 PM

How do you build a gated community while hiding the gates? With ubiquitous surveillance.

SteveMBMay 14, 2015 2:25 PM

"Scanners Hidden in Fake Cactus"

Great. Now I'm gonna have the "Roadrunner" cartoon music stuck in my head all day....

WmMay 14, 2015 6:31 PM

@Bob S.

Thanks for clearing that up. My life's experiences have taught me to trust no one however.

Roy B.May 15, 2015 10:54 AM

You're in a desert, driving along on the road, when all of a sudden you look up and see a fake cactus. You flip down the cactus-colored lens cover, blocking its view. The cactus sits there, its servos whirring in the hot sun, trying to open its lens cover. But it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that, Leon?

vas pupMay 16, 2015 12:16 PM

@Wm • May 14, 2015 6:31 PM:
"My life's experiences have taught me to trust no one however."
Dear Wm, I agree with your point, but not absolutely.
(1)E.g. " Trust but verify" - There is another point in that Russian motto which Mr. Regan did not get: Trust intentions of people you know for a long time and who are not working with LE cover or undercover, but verify their actions because we all human could screw up (the road to the hell - you know - paved with good intentions). When you have zero trust of intentions - no point to verification of actions at all except self deception.
(2)Trust, commitment, loyalty are all two-way streets. If somebody lie to you or have legal authority to lie to you, and you don't - run fast from this one way street relationships.
(3)Mr. Rogers told about reestablishing trust - simple solution: less lies more trust.

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