Sunday, 14 October 2012

suboptimal data collection strategies - or a secret plan to spy on us

A strange sight: four people wearing hi-viz sitting on the St Werbughs crossing of the M32

What are they up to? The "Highways Agency" text on the back gives the game away -they are monitoring traffic flow, with multiple people to independently monitor different lanes,
Some questions spring to mind

  1. Why hi-viz? Really? It's a pedestrian footpath that some cyclists also use. Unless you have a fear of being run over by one of those two-kid-wide pushchairs, its the safest place in the city to sit. 
  2. Counting traffic by hand? Why not just go to the bit of the Highways Agency that collects the ANPR data and use that instead. If you hook the M32 data up with those of the M4W, M4E and M5 feeds, you can even work out where people go to after leaving the M32. As any vehicle not found on those other feeds must have got off at Eastville or the North Fringe, you get those figures for free.
The fact that they aren't using the ANPR data may be sign that the UK Government police-state-on-motorists isn't as all encompassing as the daily mail and daily telegraph warn us of; that there isn't any coverage of the M32 at all. The four people on the footbridge are therefore implicity sharing a secret with us.

That or there is ANPR scanning of every vehicle entering or leaving the city, and those four people are sitting there to pretend that there isn't -they think they are counting traffic but their numbers are being discarded in preference for the machine-collected statistics. Only someone very paranoid would think that. Which is precisely why we suspect it.

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