Design Con 2015

LEDs used for airport spying?

-February 19, 2014

Ever travel to Newark Liberty Airport? Did you know that there are 171 new LED fixtures? That in itself is benign, right? What would you say if I told you those fixtures are watching everything you do?

Okay, it’s not that cloak and dagger, headlines, or even NSA related (but take the premise just a few steps further). Sensors, video cameras and light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that can be used for crowd control (at lines), traffic concerns, identify any kind of suspicious activity, and communicate all of these things to the appropriate staff or security for handling.

There’s a huge potential for problems, however. The Port Authority will retain rights to the data collected. However, naturally law enforcement can access with a subpoena or a written request. The latter doesn’t sound like a subpoena to me.

Newark isn’t alone in implementing LED technology to communicate. See LEDs lead me to pineapple—Oh my! For how a Philips pilot program is using LED fixtures to communicate via smartphones.

While the Newark Airport technology implementation may not have ulterior motives, what do you think about the privacy implications. Or do you? 

 

 

 

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