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City Sensors Collecting Cell Phone Data Spark Debate

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Good information or another example of Big Brother? It’s a debate in Chicago with the installation of sensors on the street that will tell us a lot about how we live, reports WBBM’s Jim Williams.

Charlie Catlett of Argonne National Laboratory says sensors will collect data along eight blocks from Jackson to Wacker on Michigan from the environment and your cell phone. Catlett insists it is all to make life better here.

“We know that people walking through the city is a good thing because we want to give you a route through the city that is safe or gives you the cleanest air,” said Catlett.

Many more sensors will be placed throughout the city, and that concerns Alderman Robert Fioretti.

“This really raises serious questions of big brother and what’s we’re doing here in our city,” said Fioretti.

Fioretti says the Emanuel Administration should have sought approval from the City Council before signing on a program that will place collection devices on light poles.

“Collection of date like this is worth millions if not billions of dollars and who’s going to have access to it?” Fioretti said.

Everyone will have access to it for free. Catlett promises, and individuals holding the cell phones will never be identified.

“You wouldn’t know who they are, you wouldn’t know anything about their devices or have access to their devices,” Catlett said.

You’ll see the first sensors in a few weeks on Michigan Avenue between Jackson and Wacker. Eventually, 400 will end up on Chicago light poles.

A dozen universities are working with Argonne on the project. They say we all get an app to use information from the sensors.