Tag Archive | Surveillance

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Blowing Off Class? We Know


Tools developed in-house and by a slew of companies now give administrators digital dashboards that can code students red or green to highlight who may be in academic trouble. Handsome “heat maps” — some powered by apps that update four times a day — can alert professors to students who may be cramming rather than keeping up. As part of a broader effort to measure the “campus engagement” of its students, Ball State University in Indiana goes so far as to monitor whether students are swiping in with their ID cards to campus-sponsored parties at the student center on Saturday nights.

University of Melbourne defends wi-fi tracking of students as planning move amid privacy concerns


The University of Melbourne has moved to allay privacy concerns amid revelations it is tracking students through their wi-fi usage.

The university said the practice, which looked at where people were moving around campus, helped institutions improve retention rates and the experience of students.

Privacy groups expressed concern about the practice, which is also in place at some institutions around the country.

The head of services at the University of Melbourne Paul Duldig said there was no way of identifying students.

“[We’re] simply looking at where the people’s phones are on campus and seeing whether they’re in particular rooms or walking across campus at particular times so we can plan better,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne.

New App Measures Students’ Moods and Mental Health


A computer-science professor at Dartmouth College is building a smartphone application that can detect users’ levels of happiness, stress, and loneliness, he says, with the hope of helping students monitor their mental health.

The app, called StudentLife, draws on sensor data from smartphones to “infer human behaviors,” says the professor, Andrew Campbell. It was inspired partly by the mental-health struggles that Mr. Campbell’s brother experienced while in college. The professor also wants to test his hypothesis, based on classroom observations, that students’ fluctuating stress levels correspond to their behaviors.

Measure the Future: Privacy and More Details…


I realized a few weeks ago that I haven’t said nearly enough about the technology and plans for Measure the Future. Mostly I haven’t because I’m in crazy ramp-up mode, trying to get technology sorted, read All The Things about computer vision and OpenCV and SimpleCV, get some input from my Alpha testers, and generally keep the fires stoked and burning on the project. If I expect the library community to be excited about the work I’m doing, I need to get some of the things out of my head where you can all see them and, hopefully, help make them better.

The thing that I’ve gotten the most comments and emails about is the degree to which Measure the Future is “creepy.” There is both and implicit and explicit expectation of privacy in information seeking in a library, and when someone says they are thinking about putting cameras in and watching patron behavior…well, I totally see why some people would characterize that as creepy.

So here’s why what I am planning isn’t creepy. At least, I don’t think so.

What I want to do is measure movement of people through buildings, as a first step towards better understanding how the library building is used. There are dozens of ways this can be done, and among the ones that I’ve had suggested to me or asked about in the last month include:

  • Infared sensors
  • Lasers
  • Ultrasound sensors
  • Wifi skimming
  • iBeacons

Students under surveillance


A week after students begin their distance learning courses at the UK’s Open University this October, a computer program will have predicted their final grade. An algorithm monitoring how much the new recruits have read of their online textbooks, and how keenly they have engaged with web learning forums, will cross-reference this information against data on each person’s socio-economic background. It will identify those likely to founder and pinpoint when they will start struggling. Throughout the course, the university will know how hard students are working by continuing to scrutinise their online reading habits and test scores.

StudentLife Study


StudentLife is the first study that uses passive and automatic sensing data from the phones of a class of 48 Dartmouth students over a 10 week term to assess their mental health (e.g., depression, loneliness, stress), academic performance (grades across all their classes, term GPA and cumulative GPA) and behavioral trends (e.g., how stress, sleep, visits to the gym, etc. change in response to college workload — i.e., assignments, midterms, finals — as the term progresses).

Iowa Pursues a Virtual Driver’s License App


Iowa is hoping to become the first state in the nation to make the physical driver’s license obsolete.

This month, state transportation officials announced they were developing a mobile app that would enable residents to carry virtual versions of their driver’s licenses on their smartphones. The news was first reported by The Des Moines Register.

But legal experts say the idea of using a smartphone, which typically contains vast amounts of personal information, instead of a physical government ID, introduces a host of data security and privacy issues.

“It raises questions about what information the app is collecting, how the information is being secured, and what information is being exchanged at the point of use,” said Alan Butler, senior counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center in Washington.

MO Cities Sue in Effort to Overturn Voter-Approved Ban on Red Light Cameras


In November, voters in St. Charles County, MO approved a charter amendment that prohibits municipalities within the county from using red light cameras to enforce traffic laws. According to KMOV-TV St. Louis, 73% of voters gave support for the ban, overwhelmingly sending a message that citizens in the county do not approve of cities using the cameras, which are seen as a revenue generating tool. However, the cities of St. Peters, Lake St. Louis, and O’Fallon are suing in an effort to reverse the ban, claiming that the county government has no authority over municipalities’ traffic rules.

KMOV-TV St. Louis cited a statement by the City of St. Peters on the issue, which said, “No authority exists for St. Charles County to lay claim to the regulation of traffic on city streets.” Proponents of red light cameras claim that the devices promote safe driving and that the ballot measure banning them was titled in a manner that misled voters. The charter amendment was titled “Proposition Red Light Camera.”

NSA Released Documents About Improper Surveillance on Christmas Eve


The National Security Agency today released reports on intelligence collection that may have violated the law or U.S. policy over more than a decade, including unauthorized surveillance of Americans’ overseas communications.

The NSA, responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, released a series of required quarterly and annual reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board that cover the period from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013.

The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. They were posted on the NSA’s website at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.