City To Track You Vía Your Mobile Device

While controversial in other cities, Loveland’s City Council voted unanimously to accept $380,000 from the federal government to begin tracking every mobile device moving along roadways throughout the city. See our story

Already in use by the DEA and DHS, the small receivers will record whenever you pass by it registering the time and place. As you eventually pass enough receivers, your speed and typical driving patterns are stored for future analysis by traffic control computers controlling traffic signals.

George Bailey May Have Found Jeff Bailey’s ‘Wonderful Life’ Lacking This Christmas

Monitoring the whereabouts of every mobile device user in the city sounds like something Mr. Potter would have championed as a Christmas gift for the community but not one of the Bailey’s. Loveland’s Interim Public Works Director, Jeff Bailey, seemed downright misinformed or misleading (we don’t know which) while answering questions at the December 5, Loveland City Council meeting regarding the federal money the City is receiving to begin monitoring mobile devices.

Among his ridiculous assertions was the idea the data retrieved could never be used to identify the owner of the p. He also asserted silly notions like the technology can only capture one mobile user in each car. On the contrary, it detects any mobile device with a Bluetooth turned on only dropping the record of the second user after they pass another receiver (to reduce redundancy in traffic management data).

Predictive analysis based on previous actions informed by passive receivers identifying and tracking subjects is hardly a new technology. Militaries around the world along with authoritative regimes have been using these technologies for many years to identify and sometimes engage threats. What is new is it’s application for civil objectives like traffic control.

We believe the city council should reserve for itself, those elected to office, the ability to determine when such far reaching data regarding its citizens can be used for any purpose other than traffic congestion. Of course, such restrictions were not discussed so the potential for abuse is there and will grow as the city’s archived data regarding your movements become more and more routine and guarded with less and less caution.

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43 Responses to City To Track You Vía Your Mobile Device

  1. Greg R. Snyder says:

    Once again government spends “free money” without addressing ongoing operational and maintenance costs which will quietly expand the budget. $380,000 may sound like a lot of money to most of us but by the time the monitoring devices are purchased, installed, a support network developed, and the personnel to analyze and oversee the data collection I think $380K is probably but a small drop in the bucket. Besides, I think there is probably a large number of troglodyte citizens such as myself who do not have nor use Bluetooth devices that can be tracked.

    Ask yourself why we need to collect this data and how will it benefit the citizens? I do not buy into the idea that it will be a useful tool to improve traffic flow. It would appear that the new Council and Mayor have failed their first test in changing the direction of this city from the past bureaucratic led Councils. Just because you can do something does not necessarily mean you should do something.

    • Admin says:

      Mr. Bailey confirmed no O&M funds will follow. It seems like a lot of effort for very little benefit regarding traffic flow. No cost vs. benefits analysis was provided.

  2. Carol says:

    You know this is a two-way street. If anyone is accused of a crime they can use the city’s data as an alibi about where they were at the time.

  3. Junkyard Dog says:

    Off topic, but relevant to Loveland, CO.: The itinerant gadfly, Howard Roy Dotson, has a court appearance scheduled for December 13, 2017 in Larimer County Courts, regarding his legal action against the House of Neighborly Services: Case No. D352017CV152, Hearing Type, Settlement Conference.

    Previously Dotson announced that he was leaving the State of Colorado, never to return. A few months later he claimed he was on “summer vacation” in Maple Grove, Minnesota, where his mother resides. He subsequently returned to Colorado – the Fort Collins area – because he claimed that he had to do so regarding his legal action.

    Will Dotson return to Colorado on or before December 13, 2017? Or will he have another convenient explanation for the apparent contradiction because he does not tell lies.

    • Kathleen says:

      I’d love an update on this when there is one.

      • Junkyard Dog says:

        If Howard Roy Dotson returned to the State of Colorado, to the Larimer County Courts on December 13, 2017 regarding his legal case against the House of Neighborly Services, there is no indication of his presence in the state.

        Update on Howard Roy Dotson, and his legal action against the House of Neighborly Services, Case No. D352017CV152:

        • March 16, 2018, at 1:00 P.M. there is a one hour Hearing scheduled: Pre-Trial Readiness, at the Larimer County Courts, Division DIV 3C.
        • April 10, 2018, beginning at 8:30 A.M., there is a full day hearing scheduled, categorized as Jury Trial, for Case No. D352017CV152, DIV 3C.
        • April 11, 2018, beginning at 8:30 A.M., there is a full day hearing scheduled, categorized as Jury Trial, for Case No. D352017CV152, DIV 3C.
        • April 12, 2018, beginning at 8:30 A.M., there is a full day hearing scheduled, categorized as Jury Trial, for Case No. D352017CV152, DIV 3C.
        • April 13, 2018, beginning at 8:30 A.M., there is a full day hearing scheduled, categorized as Jury Trial, for Case No. D352017CV152, DIV 3C.

        Should the case proceed it will require the use of a court room in the Larimer County Courts for three days. It will also require the services of a presiding judge, a bailiff, and a court recorder, along with a jury, all of whom will be paid for their time; monies which will be paid for by the taxpayers of Larimer County.

        A history of the matter: One-time Loveland City Council candidate and 2nd Congressional District candidate Howard Roy Dotson brought legal action against the House of Neighborly Services, alleging libel, defamation, and slander.

        Dotson filed a lawsuit on April 17, 2017 in the 8th District Court against the House of Neighborly Services based on responses by non-profit Executive Director Glorie Magrum to complaints he brought to the Loveland City Council about the Angel House homeless program, which is part of the House of Neighborly Services, and their apparent rejecting of clients.

        In the complaint Dotson charges that Magrum told councilors that Dotson had coached individuals to lie, which he asserts is an abuse of power. He also claims that he asked for a retraction and apology and that she declined, providing motivation for his legal action.

        Additionally, the church where Dotson was serving as an interim pastor, First United Presbyterian Church, located in downtown Loveland, CO., was removed from the Angel House program rotation, where it provided cold-weather shelter for homeless families. The implication is that the timing of this action was caused by the interaction between Dotson and Magrum.

        As part of his allegations Dotson claims that his name and reputation were damaged and that action forced him to resign his position with the church. He also acknowledged that he intended to resign at the end of April in 2017 for a new role as an executive director of a non-profit detox center, which he started: The Loveland Detox and Recovery Center, using a Social Media account to raise funds for it. To date he has raised $250 against a goal of $10,000 over a period of a year. Dotson claimed that this project is a reason for his unemployment overall since April 16, 2017.

        In the legal complaint Dotson included letters he claims are from individuals who expressed issues about the program and the House of Neighborly Services. He alleges that parents who participated in the Angel House programs were coerced into signing false statements against him and that they feared not doing so would result in retribution from the non-profit agency.

        Additionally, Dotson asserts that the non-profit has failed to have what he considers to be ecumenical diversity on its board of directors, alleged non-compliance with federal laws, and a what he considers to be a lack of reproductive health services for women at the Life Center, which is also part of HNS.

        To date Executive Director Magrum has declined public response to the specific allegations, but has been quoted as saying that she hopes that the lawsuit can be resolved amicably.

        Former Loveland City Council member Troy Krenning is defending the non-profit in the matter, and has noted he will waive all legal fees to do so.

        Dotson’s legal counsel has not been publically identified, suggesting that he may defend himself in court.

        On May 8, 2017 Dotson filed a motion for an expedited hearing saying that he wanted to leave the country to work with refugees. Mr. Krenning responded with a motion to dismiss the legal action on May 22, 2017, noting that he considered much of the documentation Dotson included to be insufficient for his defense because it is chaotic, nonsensical, and lacking in factual support for legal claims as presented by Dotson.

        Mr. Dotson did not leave the country. The motion to dismiss was denied.

        During this timeframe Mr. Krenning was quoted as saying that Dotson is given to threatening all kinds of legal action, and referenced Dotson’s public threat to pursue legal action against Loveland City Council member Don Overcash if Mr. Overcash was not censured for comments he made at a council meeting in April 2017, which Dotson took as personal criticism.

        Interim Loveland City Attorney Clay Douglas sent Dotson a letter dated May 1, 2017, in which he responded to the threat made by Dotson. Mr. Douglas respectfully responded to Dotson’s remarks and explained, in his opinion, that Dotson’s disagreement and displeasure did not provide a legitimate basis for the threatened legal action.

        Dotson responded that he decided not to pursue legal action against Mr. Overcash because “you have to pick your battles”. Such an opinion suggests that Dotson knew he lack factual basis for the legal action to result in success in his favor.

        As to his legal action against the House of Neighborly Services Dotson asserts that he decided to pursue the lawsuit because he alleges that the non-profit had treated another community advocate in a similar manner when they disagreed with the non-profit’s management, asserting that ministries that are not in sync with them will be maligned. The accusation could be considered a separate legal matter from the original legal issue. If it was not included in the original complaint it suggests that Dotson is adding to his case without appropriate authority from the court to do so, demonstrating a lack of respect for legal procedure and protocol.

        The preceding information was derived from several public sources.

  4. Gary says:

    I’m not confident enough in the “good” intentions of this city staff to believe the primary purpose of this monitoring has much to do with traffic. I can see how traffic control engineers can use the info. There is also the potential for exploitation in this venture.

  5. John Fogle says:

    Gary —
    I have some large rolls of tin foil for sale — build a hat that fits over your head and cellphone and it should disrupt the signal so you don’t get tracked. Note — be sure and cut out some eye holes so you can see to drive.

    • Admin says:

      Councilman, if you were accused of a serious crime and could corroborate your weak alibi using this data set (which recorded your movement throughout the city) would you use it in your defense?

      Instead of mocking people why not carefully consider your decisions. I am not one to put the “right of privacy” over pursuit of the truth. There is nothing wrong with collecting and storing data provided a policy is in place to make sure it is used as intended and safeguarded from improper use.

      Instead, the council barley knew what they were approving while staff provided demonstrably false information about the technology. If the information can be used to solve a crime, why not? It is the absence of a use policy combined with another council rubber stamp that makes the entire matter so troubling.

      • Shannon says:

        Admin- I vehemently disagree that “there’s nothing wrong with collecting and storing data, as long as a policy is in place”. There is no policy that can or will control human nature. A perfect example are the forfeiture laws, originally put in place to curb drug dealers, and now openly used by hundreds if not thousands of law enforcement agencies against ordinary citizens to add money to their coffers. I don’t need to justify my desire for privacy. This is the camels nose under the edge of the tent.

        • Admin says:

          Shannon, you make an excellent point. Asset forfeiture was a disaster in many states. I remember one rancher who refused to sell his property to an anxious municipality, and found himself in court losing it all because his nephew was smoking pot during his absence which necessitated a coordinated swat invasion and seizure of the ranch.

          Especially troubling in Loveland was the complete absence of a cost vs. benefits analysis. The interim director of public works isn’t credible when he claims he hasn’t budgeted O&M because the receivers are maintenance free. There isn’t an IT system in the world free of labor costs for training operators, programming etc…..

      • Steve says:

        In order for government to be our God it must be all-knowing, always present, and all powerful. The government has Satellite photographs of all the poppy fields in Afghanistan. Thousands of tons of opium come to America every year, why doesn’t the government spray the poppy fields with Roundup and win the war on drugs? The people who run the government will never spray the poppy fields, they love money too much!

        • Admin says:

          Instead of verging on conspiracy theories I suggest you look at what is public/commercial use of these technologies. The abundance of source data gives rise to many interesting automated commercial applications.

          For example, a company in the Silicon Valley can fairly accurately project the quarterly sales for Walmart before they are announced. They do this by counting cars using satellite data in parking lots throughout the country. You might consider this to know whether to buy or sell stock before the quarterly earnings are announced. Here is the link.

          https://orbitalinsight.com

          Like your Afghanistan analogy, whether I really act on this information has more to do with my available time and resources and less to do with an agenda to support or oppose Walmart stock prices.

          • Steve says:

            I don’t understand the point you’re making. A private company can use satellites to make a buck, but the government can’t use them to win their “war” on drugs? Show me an example where any government gathered information on citizens, and a. It was used solely for its stated purpose, and b. Benefited the citizens being watched.

    • Greg R. Snyder says:

      John: This reply is the window into your character that justifies my vote for your opponent. She may turn out to be a typical Democrat who supports and ever expanding government and growth of the nanny state but at least she is not vindictive, petty, and juvenile about it. You are proving the point that you are not capable of rationally providing oversight of government power and largesse.

    • Nancy Rumfelt says:

      Mr. Fogle your condescending response to a citizen is exactly why you lost the election. A true public servant would never respond to a citizen in the manner that you have above.

      Government is incapable of staying within the boundaries established by law or regulation – government is always looking for ways to expand its control over everything.

      There are far too many elected officials such as yourself, who believe that government is the solution because you fail to recognize that government IS the problem.

    • Gary says:

      A point I wist to emphasize is this. When and if the data collected would be useful to some other purpose than traffic flow reports, the current city management would gladly hand it out regardless of the affected citizens desires and whether it compromises privacy is of no concern. This city’s management is proving themselves to be oblivious to citizen opinion. Merely stating that information will not be exploited does not make it so.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Sign me up for a tin foil hat too. Tracking cell phones sounds more like tracking people than cars. It sounds weird and like it could be easily misused. I’m surprised the vote was unanimous. No one on council thought this sounded off?

    • Kathleen says:

      Regarding the tracking the license plates and privacy issue. I thought they already could do that on the interstate. I know they can through toll roads. Why is privacy not a problem then? Which makes tracking cell phones more suspicious. “Puts phone on airplane mode and runs and puts on tin foil hat.” Lol

      • Carol says:

        Kathleen you missed the point. Jeff Bailey, Loveland’s interim director of public works told Loveland’s City Council prior to the vote that tracking license plates is an invasion of privacy and that is why tracking mobile devices was being proposed instead.
        He is wrong on both counts. The city is installing cameras as well as Bluetooth tracking so anyone’s identity would be easy to determine by combining the two. And to your point, toll roads and random state emission testing already capture license plates of the traveling public.
        License plates are meant to identify all vehicles traveling on public roadways. The operator knows that is the purpose. Tracking mobile devices of everyone in a vehicle is an entirely different kettle of fish.

        • Kathleen says:

          I did not miss the point. My point is if they can legally track license plates on the interstate and it’s not an invasion of privacy why are they choosing to track the person via mobile phone when they could track the car. If the purpose is to track the traffic they don’t need to track the person. If tracking the license plate works why do they need to track us individually. I feel both ways are an invasion of privacy and John Fogle’s dismissive comment to a concerned citizen is exactly why I didn’t vote for him.

  7. Pedestrian says:

    Perhaps, I am walking on the sidewalk on a street with these sensors. Would the sensors pick up the signal from my cellphone? If so, then the system is clearly tracking anyone walking or riding their bicycle — car removed from the story.

  8. Admin says:

    Notice to readers

    Loveland’s City Council will be voting final approval (second reading) this coming Tuesday in accepting the $380,000 to begin tracking mobile devices in the city. Any member of the council, staff or public may pull the item from the consent agenda so there can be discussion and recorded vote on that item alone instead as part of the entire “consent” agenda.

  9. Ed Klen says:

    If the true intent of this is to track vehicle habits then it would seem to me that a system that simply counts vehicles would accomplish nearly the same thing, and vehicle “counting” is far less intrusive. Now, given that, “counting” vehicles will not tell you that they were just across the street 15 minutes ago or came from the other side of town, but based on counts there are programs out there that can assume patterns and loading.

  10. Admin says:

    UPDATE:

    LovelandPolitics has learned Loveland City Manager Steve Adams removed the final vote from Tuesday’s city council meeting to approve the system for tracking mobile devices in the city for traffic management. Instead, he has now placed it on the agenda for early next year while “researching” privacy issues raised during their last meeting to respond to individual council members.

    Former Loveland Reporter-Herald reporter now city staff “information” officer, Tom Hacker, sent out a press release contradicting his own boss claiming there are no privacy issues or concerns while taking aim at this website. Hacker concluded the press release confirming the item will come back again on January 2, with no explanation as to why it was postponed.

    http://www.cityofloveland.org/Home/Components/News/News/4246/30

    Hacker mentioned LovelandPolitics by name in his city press announcement on the topic while setting-up a straw argument to knock over. Of course, our story never said the system by itself can “identify” the individual using the device. What we explained is the system identifies the MAC or better explained unique chipset identifyier for each device moving throughout the city.

    Combining that information with their video surveillance, known times of travel during times of low congestion or other means can link the owner of the device to the city’s “randomly” generated unique identifying number for each device being detected. In fact, the number is unlikely “random” but somehow linked to the original device identifier through an algorithm. Otherwise, common addressing (redundant addresses) would occur making the traffic information unintelligible over time as the same person cannot be traveling in two different places at once.

    Hacker or any staff is welcome to post their comments here to engage in the discussion. If the system can be used by law enforcement, like they do in New York, to combat terrorism most people would probably support it provided the proper safeguards are in place.

    In our story we linked an article showing that a vast majority of shoppers objected to retailers tracking their movements in the same way thus it is no longer being used by Macy’s or other large retailers.

    Maybe Council should use their annual city questionnaire to ask substantive questions like what level of tracking of your mobile devices is acceptable for you if used exclusively for traffic management?

  11. TheRealHacker says:

    Every device has its own address, a unique 48-bit identifier with six bytes of information that might look like this: 01:23:45:67:89.10. The first three bytes (01:23:45) are assigned to the specific manufacturer of the device, while the last three bytes (67:89:10) are assigned by the manufacturer. These make each device entirely unique. Anytime you use WiFi in Starbucks or anywhere else I can pick-up your identity with that number because you probably have email and other personally identifiable apps running in the background.
    This traffic system just takes the 48-bit identifier and uses a code to make the number different like plus four on the first number and three on second. Show me the city code for my mobile device and I can figure out the code comparing it to my 48-bit identifier.
    That city press thing is all messed up. Probably using software pedestrian Bluetooth or stuff like that is hidden but software is easy to change.
    Be worried.

  12. Jack Benjamin says:

    I don’t know if anyone here actually reads the RH comments anymore, but on the full site for the article about this, the comments aren’t about the topic at all. All the comments are potshots at LovelandPolitics and the admin. No one seems to point out that LovelandPolitics wasn’t interviewed for the article (I presume).

    • Admin says:

      Correct, nobody contacted us for an article nor have we seen one. I just checked and could only find an excellent editorial on the subject by the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

      http://www.reporterherald.com/opinion/editorial/ci_31531205/editorial-plan-track-traffic-warrants-look-at-privacy

      According to the Editorial,

      “the City Council should delve into just how the data will be used, where it will be kept, whether police or anyone else will have access to it and what privacy protections citizens will have.”

      • Admin says:

        Ok, someone just copied and sent the article and comments. Maybe the reporter only relied on Hacker’s press release since it erroneously calls the story a “post” and repeats the straw man argument made by Hacker that is not in our article.
        The sign of a weak argument is when someone deliberately misrepresents the person they are attacking because they know their argument is weak.
        About some guy driving an SUV with some silly bumper stickers – nobody associated with this website for certain.

  13. Howard Dotson says:

    Junkyard Dog: I am not taking the bait.

    The legal matter between me and HNS “has been resolved.”
    Councilman Overcash and the Loveland City Council could be another matter.
    The fact that the Loveland City Council voted to elevate him to Mayor Pro Tem brings his behavior in April into focus. To date, Overcash has yet to apologize to the Janseen family. After his pathetic political gotcha, I called Mr. Jansen and apologized for this very sad moment in Loveland Politics. Mr. Overcash has not followed suit after several promptings.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUjjlltvup0

    After finding a legal resolution to this next matter, I look forward to putting my Loveland chapter to a complete and final close.

    Jesus taught his disciples to kick the dust off their feet and move on to the next town. For many people of faith, this is how they will experience Loveland and its politics.

    • Jack Benjamin says:

      Matthew 6:5-6New International Version (NIV)

      5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.

  14. Daryle Klassen says:

    One of the very sad aspects of political life, so rampant today, is that a touch of humor totally tongue in check, can only be made to ridicule, spurn, ostracize, and scold the giver. I refer to John Fogle’s clever remark about “putting some tin foil over your head to disrupt a outgoing signal.”
    I am an I.T. idiot, but was even able to understand this was funny, worthy of attempting to downplay some of the hysteria associated with council efforts to mitigate some traffic problems.
    It is exactly this type of bluster that keeps many qualified persons from running for office. Who needs this kind of tripe, from individuals just waiting to see what they can find to criticize ! Lighten up and get a life !
    Daryle Klassen

  15. Junkyard Dog says:

    According to the public information records for the 8th Judicial District Dockets beginning March 16, 2018 and then on 4/10/2018 through 4/13/2018 Howard Roy Dotson has a trial for his case against the House of Neighborly Services.

    • Admin says:

      While of-topic, where does a non-profit existing on donations from area churches to feed needy people get the funds to hire an attorney and defend itsel? Is it coming directly out of contributions, liability insurance or what?

      • Junkyard Dog says:

        From a previous post regarding the matter:

        Former Loveland City Council member Troy Krenning is defending the non-profit in the matter, and has noted he will waive all legal fees to do so.

        • Admin says:

          Thanks for the info, good to hear since competent and free legal representation is a rare thing these days. Curiously, the most offensive thing I have ever heard Rev. Dotson say was the increase in home values meant home owners are in a position to invest their increased equity in mental health (higher taxes). Was it a careless statement or maybe a slip revealing his lack of financial literacy.
          Equity is not extra cash lying around (as late night mortgage commercials maybe he watches claim) but ownership in something you are using and is part of your personal overhead (cost of living).
          Telling people they need to go deeper into debt to fund your particular cause is not only bad financial advice but terrible politics as well. I wonder how many votes he cost the proponents.

  16. Howard Dotson says:

    Looks like you’ll are following 45’s playbook.
    Divert and deflect.
    I will pass.
    Liam Weston, you have a responsibility to how you report current events.
    Your legitimacy is at stake and you should stay on task.

  17. Howard Dotson says:

    It was the “No New Taxes no matter what” agenda that doomed the mental health tax.
    The Koch Brothers cronies in Larimer County are the culprits of this failing again and again.
    Larimer County Jail is at 150 % capacity. The jail and prison function as our mental health facility. When the County has to build a larger jail it will cost much more than the mental health tax.
    Mental health, substance abuse and crime are interrelated.

  18. Greg Snyder says:

    Howard: I also believe con artists and crime are related. You either have a P.T.Barnum belief in yourself or you are a complete fool. I believe the latter.

  19. Howard Dotson says:

    Pretty sad to see such lack of civility.

  20. Greg Snyder says:

    Maybe you should avoid mirrors????

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