Smartbin makers turn off smartphone trackers

Renew CEO Kaveh Memari describes the project as "a pilot with extremely limited, encrypted, anonymous/aggregated data"

Following the news that a small number of London smartbins were collecting anonymized MAC addresses from pedestrians’ smartphones the City of London corporation has asked the firm to stop the scheme.

"Irrespective of what’s technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public," said the corporation in an official statement.

Kaveh Memari, the CEO of Renew, the company who make the bins, has also released an open letter further explaining the technology.

“The process is very much like a website, you can tell how many hits you have had and how many repeat visitors, but we cannot tell who, or anything personal about any of the visitors on the website.  So we couldn’t tell, for example, whether we had seen devices or not as we never gathered any personal details.”

The bins worked by looking for smartphones with an open Wi-Fi connection and using this to estimate the “proximity, speed, duration and manufacturer”. Over the course of a single week the 12 bins included in the trial logged “4,009,676 devices with over 530,000 uniques acquired.”

In their original publication of the scheme, Renew speculated how the information might be sold to advertisers, allowing them to analyse shopping habits of individuals in a given area. The open letter by Memari reiterated that these are “capabilities that could be developed and none of which are workable right now”.

“Future developments will, however, not just depend on technology, but also, most importantly, on people being comfortable with interactive technology,” says Memari. “Come the time we discuss creating the future levels of protection, we can move to an improved service where we can bring better content to people.”

To read our original report on the bins click here, and to see Kaveh Memari’s open letter in full click here.

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Senior Network Engineer - London - £70,000

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An excellent opportunity ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administrator - London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

    £29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

    Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

    £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness