Another All Seeing Eye

Another miovision Scout traffic camera system appeared in my neighborhood on or about November 15, 2017 (yesterday).  This is a brief (about one minute) video of the device:

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About the Author

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Report of Deadly Traffic Light Malfunction (Double Green Light) in Detroit 2013

This is a television news report from Detroit (WXYZ-TV Channel 7, Detroit) with a YouTube publication date of May 16, 2013 on a traffic light malfunction that may have caused a fatal accident:

Reporter on the scene is Kim Russell at the intersection of Warren and Beechwood on Detroit’s West Side.  The story shows a double green light with a green light for both Warren and Beechwood at the same time.

Another YouTube video with a television news report of a traffic light malfunction at the intersection of Rossler and Dingens (Dingers caption in the video is incorrect) in Cheektowaga, New York (from WIBV TV Channel 4, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and All of Western New York and Southern Ontario, Published August 27, 2013):

The news reporter on the ground was Lou Raguse of WIVB-TV Channel 4 News.

This is a TV news report on “smart” traffic lights that allegedly turned green at the same time in Point Loma, San Diego, California USA (ABC 10 News, Published April 4, 2017):

In this case, the double green light was not caught on camera so the report depends on eyewitness testimony alone.

UPDATE

Direct link to ABC 10 article/report on traffic lights.

Follow up on April 5, 2017 on testing of traffic lights for possible problem:

http://www.10news.com/news/point-loma-intersection-being-tested-after-reported-close-calls

Follow up video news report:

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

 

Another Article on Hacking Traffic Lights

Lights on Wolfe Should Have Stopped Other Driver
Traffic Lights in Sunnyvale, California (USA)

 

An article from the Washington Post:

“Can hackers take over traffic lights?” by Faiz Siddiqui (Washington Post, August 8, 2015)

A brief excerpt:

But it was the District that captured the attention of Cesar Cerrudo, chief technology officer of IOActive Labs, an Argentina-based security research firm. Cerrudo walked the streets of Capitol Hill last year with a tracking device, seeking to expose vulnerabilities in the District’s traffic system as part of a nonprofit initiative. He has done the same in New York and other cities, usually with similar results, he said.

Cerrudo said he was able to access traffic data at intersections at Union Station, Capitol Hill, and at Third and Madison streets NW. Were he a malicious hacker, he said, he could have gridlocked the entire city, creating paralyzing traffic on North Capitol Street NW or turning neighborhood roads into bona fide freeways.

UPDATE

Related article in The New York Times:

“Traffic Hacking: Caution Light Is On,” by Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, June 10, 2015

This is Cesar Cerrudo’s detailed technical talk at DEFCON 22 on his investigation of traffic control systems covered in the articles:

This is the website of Sensys Networks, the traffic control system discussed in the articles and video above.

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The All Seeing Eye Vanishes

The traffic (?) surveillance device, apparently a “SCOUT” from miovision technologies, monitoring the intersection of El Camino Real and San Antonio at the border between Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos in California, USA has vanished as of about 7:30 AM Pacific Standard Time, Saturday, November 4, 2017.

Light Pole No Longer Has "Traffic Camera" Attached
Light Pole No Longer Has “Traffic Camera” Attached

Here is an earlier picture of the device:

Light Pole with Device Attached
Light Pole with Device Attached

Here is my detailed video on the device:

I noticed the device on Thursday, November 2, 2017.  It is not that obvious so it could have been there for several days, although I am pretty observant and go by the light pole daily.  I suspect it was installed on Wednesday or Thursday.  If so, it was only able to collect data for a few days.  It does not seem like long enough to collect reliable data.  For example, one would like to observe the intersection for at least a week to see the variations between weekdays and weekends as well as from day to day during the week.

I wonder if it was taken down due to my posts.

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

The All Seeing Eye (Video)

 

Video of a traffic surveillance camera that appeared mysteriously on a light pole in my neighborhood.

This is the web site of miovision technologies which appears to be the manufacturer of the surveillance device:

https://miovision.com

 

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

The All Seeing Eye

This is a self-described “traffic camera” that I ran across attached to a light pole near the intersection of San Antonio and El Camino Real in  Palo Alto/Mountain View/Los Altos (the intersection is at the intersecting borders of all three cities).

Self-Described Traffic Camera on Light Pole
Self-Described Traffic Camera on Light Pole

 

Closeup of Traffic Camera
Closeup of Traffic Camera

 

Identifying Tag on the Camera Base
Identifying Tag on the Camera Base

 

Intersection of San Antonio and El Camino Real
Intersection of San Antonio and El Camino Real

 

The traffic camera is on a light pole to the right of the picture of the intersection of San Antonio and El Camino above.  The seeming camera is aimed at the intersection.

 

(c) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

 

Caltech Professors Win Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both emeritus professors of Physics at my alma mater, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), are among the three winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017:

https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2017/press.html

This was for their work performed at Caltech on the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) gravity wave detection experiment.

Kip Thorne also has a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree from Caltech (1962).

A total of 37 faculty and alumni of Caltech have won 38 Nobel Prizes.   Ten (10) of these including Kip Thorne have a B.S. from Caltech.  🙂

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Personal Note: A Possible Break-in at my Apartment Complex?

When I returned from early morning breakfast at about 7:40 AM today (September 12, 2017) I found the lobby door to my apartment building ajar with some visible damage to the door.  The door seemed undamaged, closed, fine when I left about a half hour before.  There was a police car parked on across the street which is unusual.

The open damaged door looked a lot to me like someone had forced it open.

I later asked the apartment management if there had been a break-in and they indicated they had no knowledge of a break-in.  There was no evidence of any entry to my apartment which is located directly above the lobby door.

Open Damaged Lobby Door
Open Damaged Lobby Door
Closeup of Damaged Lobby Door
Closeup of Damaged Lobby Door

 

This is a closeup of some scuff marks on the door:

Scuff Marks on Lobby Door
Scuff Marks on Lobby Door

 

This is a picture of the police car parked across the street:

 

Police Car Across the Street
Police Car Across the Street

 

This is a closeup of the license plate of the police car (1457472)

Closeup of License Plate of Police Car
Closeup of License Plate of Police Car

It is difficult to know what to make of this without more information.  I am more uneasy over this incident than I would normally be due to the break-in at my personal storage locker in early July and my mysterious automobile accident on July 19.  Hopefully, it is just a random coincidence.

UPDATE: September 14, 2017

Good news!

I was able to contact the Mountain View Police Department regarding the police car parked across the street.  This was the relevant part of their response to my inquiry:

There was no threat to public safety when you saw our car yesterday on Del Medio. We responded to a call of a missing person. That case has since been resolved.

I would note that that is not an explicit denial that the lobby door was related to the police car, but, if so, the lobby door probably would not be the sort of incident I was concerned about.

According to the apartment complex management, they are not aware of any incident and the chrome plating on the door has a history of coming unglued.  I still suspect something happened with the lobby door — I have used it for many years and never seen something like this — but these responses support that it probably has a mostly innocuous explanation.  It still would be nice to know exactly what happened.  🙂

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

 

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

A Personal Note: Mysterious Accident

I had a serious accident on July 19, 2017 at about 6:30 AM in the morning making a left turn from the off ramp of Central Expressway East onto North Wolfe Road in Sunnyvale, California.  Fortunately no one was seriously injured but I could easily have been killed and my car was totaled.  I have some whiplash and may have had a very mild concussion.

The accident is something of a mystery.  I distinctly remember stopping at the red light at the off ramp from Central Expressway and Wolfe Road.  Then the light turned green and I made a left turn across the three lanes of South Wolfe Road.  I make this turn almost every morning.  I was awake, alert.  I was not texting or doing anything reckless.  I am generally a cautious driver; people have complained about it.

I had a glancing collision with an SUV coming down North Wolfe that should have had a red light but seemingly did not.  The lights from both directions are extremely obvious at this intersection.  I was extremely surprised both by the SUV and to see the light that should have stopped the SUV was green when I pulled over.  I don’t think the SUV ran a red light although it is hard to be absolutely certain.

Three Unlikely Explanations

I seem to be left with three unlikely explanations.  Despite my distinct memory and natural caution, I somehow made a left turn against multiple bright red lights directly in front of me and in my field of view.

Accident Left Turn View (Aug. 18, 2017)
Accident Left Turn View (Aug. 18, 2017)

(OR) The lights changed improperly giving both the other driver and myself green lights at the same time due to an electrical or electronic failure.

Lights on Wolfe Should Have Stopped Other Driver
Lights on Wolfe Should Have Stopped Other Driver

(OR) The lights changed improperly giving both the other driver and myself green lights at the same time because someone tampered with the lights somehow, presumably either a dangerous prank or attempted homicide.

None of these possibilities seems particularly probable, but it seems that the explanation for the accident must be one of them.

Mental glitches of this type may happen but must be very rare.  I was wide awake, alert, have made the turn many times and am familiar with the intersection.  I am a cautious driver.  The red lights should have been easily and clearly visible.  I was in good health with no noticeable cognitive issues in the last several years.  I remember seeing the red lights and  the light changing green and very distinctly no red lights as I made the left turn.

There is a lot of construction at and near the intersection of Wolfe Road and Central Expressway in Sunnyvale that seems associated with an office building under construction in the block bordered by Wolfe, Central, Arques, and Commercial Street.  The new office building faces Wolfe and Arques.

Building Construction at Corner of Arques and Wolfe (Aug. 18, 2017)
Building Construction at Corner of Arques and Wolfe (Aug. 18, 2017)

There is a lot of work going on right at the intersection of Central Expressway, technically the on/off ramps, and Wolfe Road.

Workmen Doing Something at Central Expressway Off Ramp and Wolfe (Aug. 18, 2017)
Workmen Doing Something at Central Expressway Off Ramp and Wolfe (Aug. 18, 2017)

There were a lot of signs for construction in and around the intersection between Wolfe and the Central Expressway on/off ramps when the accident occurred although I did not see any workmen (it was about 6:30 AM and there do not seem to have been any witnesses).

The question arises whether the construction could have caused a glitch in the lights.  To be sure, the lights could have some very rare, bizarre failure mode not due to the construction as well but surely this is less likely than a problem related to the construction.

Then, finally, there is the possibility of deliberate tampering with the traffic lights.  This could just be some random, extremely dangerous “prank” or an attempt to kill, harm, or frighten either the other driver or myself (I did not and do not know the other driver).  It is a bit concerning coming twelve days after my personal storage locker was broken into (July 7, 2017).

It is difficult to know what to make of deliberate tampering with the traffic lights.  Many years ago I worked briefly for a company that shall remain nameless where I developed very serious concerns about the company and the people connected to it after I took the job.  I didn’t hang around.  They would be my leading suspects if there was tampering but it has been a long time.  They would be risking the spotlight of unwanted public attention if they tried to kill me.

I am left with a mystery.  None of the three explanations — a serious mental glitch on my part, an improbable electronic failure of the traffic lights, or deliberate tampering with the traffic lights by a person or persons unknown — seems likely, but presumably one of them happened.  Previous accidents that I have had have been minor and it was always clear what had happened.  🙁

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About the author

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

 

A Personal Note: Break-in

Someone broke into my storage locker in Mountain View (best known as Google’s home town) over the past weekend.  I was notified but was not able to take a look until this morning.  Fortunately, so far, nothing appears to have been taken or damaged.  I don’t of course keep anything valuable, important, or that I cannot afford to lose in my storage locker.

About a dozen lockers, several neighboring lockers on the same floor and several on another floor with the same locker numbers for that floor, were reportedly broken into at the same time.

Many boxes were thrown about and cut or torn open, but nothing appears (so far) to have been taken or damaged.  Supposedly the most common motive for locker break-ins is to get personal financial records related to bank accounts and other financial accounts as a step to gaining access to the money in the accounts.  I don’t keep any personal records like that in my locker for that and other similar reasons.

While it does not look like I was personally targeted, it still leaves an uneasy feeling!  One cannot be sure.  🙁

The picture below shows the boxes strewn about when I opened the locker this morning.  They were neatly stacked and packed together in one corner before.  Many of the smaller boxes and some of the larger ones were torn or cut — mostly cut — open.

Post Break-in Locker Contents
Post Break-in Locker