While local officials tout it as a necessary tool to identify and solve Napa County’s traffic woes, a new study that will document drivers’ license plates and GPS data from residents’ smartphones has generated backlash and privacy concerns.
Napa County and the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency (NCTPA) have hired a consultant to conduct the survey, which will entail setting up infrared camera systems on major thoroughfares, and using a third party to collect the cellphone GPS data and track the movements around the county and throughout the region.
The results of the surveys will be compiled into a study that will serve as a resource in long-term traffic congestion and land-use planning.
Napa resident Bill Shotty said he strongly disapproved of the survey’s methods.
“I don’t think that’s right,” Shotty said. “That’s way invasive. That’s kind of a privacy issue right here.”
NCTPA Executive Director Kate Miller wants to quell those concerns, saying Friday that traffic consultant Fehr & Peers can’t identify the location of a cellphone’s GPS within a 200-by-200-meter perimeter.
No other identifying information, such as who owns the cellphone, its data or how it’s used will be compiled through the survey. A computer model used in the study will label periods of cellphone dormancy “home” when it’s staying in one location overnight, or “work” when it’s in another location for long periods of time during the day.
The survey plan is receiving mostly negative reviews from Register readers commenting on Facebook:
Jennifer Vallerga: “Against it. I dont care what they say about how many yards the radius is for the gps on the phone. Its too close for me. What happens if someone uses this to help them figure when we aren't home. Falls in the wrong hands. And using my license plate to get my home address it too much, with or without my name attached. Don't want it. Too many ways this can go wrong. Try again napa. Even though its not like they will listen to what we have to say.”
Donna Kime Smith: “It is an invasion of privacy without any doubt. Makes me glad we left Napa 20 yrs ago. I lived there for 50 years. Will not visit there again. Stop light cameras and now this. It is not the town I grew up in and loved.”
Robert Eugene Bradley: “One step closer to Skynet.”
Click here for the full story by Peter Jensen.