This is Quinn Jacobson, a research leader at Nokia’s research centre in Palo Alto. Quinn heads up the Traffic Works program, and like Nokia’s NFC program, Traffic Works is like a hybrid of technologies, but seems to be based mostly on GPS.

Personally, both Traffic Works and NFC scare the living s**t out of me. Quinn mentions protecting the user’s privacy a few times, but I think that such an assumption is naive. For instance, the government has these boxes that can decode 128 bit encryption, and I know this guy who knows this guy who can get these boxes from this guy in Israel for about $4,000. It’s completely f**ked how short-sighted we can be, and how willing we are to trade privacy and security for convenience. Orwell couldn’t have thought up something more diabolical and vulnerable to abuse. I mean, think about it: LBS makes the iPhone a telescreen you take with you everywhere you go…

But what do I know? I’m just a paranoid gypsy bandit whose mother probably held him too much as a child… So without further ado, I give you Nokia’s Quinn Jacobson…

iPhone Telescreen Version

2 thoughts on “Nokia is Crowd Sourcing Traffic Reports

  1. In the early days, yes this could be a tracker but as the volume goes up, becomes a google sized problem to match people to places.

    In terms of protecting privacy, i see that that is not so big an issue as the information that is needed is date-time, location & speed data. There is no need for any device identification
    Also, as a consumer of this data i am only really interested in motorway (i think the American equvilent word is Highway?) and when or where the traffic is doing 15% or under the speed limit, this further reduces usefulness of the data as a tracker.
    for me i see limited use in city centers (traffic is always slow in centers!)

    More important is that the format should be open, so that multiple services could recieve it and do cool stuff with the data.
    Alos by making the format open, other things can upload data to the service, thus opening the doorway for trending (which route planning software can take advantage of by suggesting alternative travel times (or to take breaks at certain time/places) as well as routes.

  2. @mike, what scares me is that the information is there in the first place. The problem, or course, starts with how a device that’s registered to you has GPS. This is what I mean when I talk about how people trade privacy/security for convenience. If an organization (private or government) decides for whatever reason that they want to track me, it’s that much easier.

    Information is power, and power corrupts. So the prospect of gaining access to that information can be really tempting. Just look at how Obama will have to do away with his Blackberry.

    Every choice represents a trade-off. I just don’t believe that the average consumer is fully aware of the trade-offs entailed by the choices they make to (1) shop online, (2) use mobile technology, or even (3) use a third-party web-based email service.

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