An advertising company, called Renew, is receiving backlash from inhabitants of London, for the sensors they have put in their “smart” trash bins. The bins, dubbed “smart” bins, measure the Wi-fi signals emitted by peoples cell phones and after multiple trash bins pick up the same wi-fi signal, the bins are able to determine the route that users took. Citizens of London have hit back and on August 12th officials demanded that all the bins be removed from the streets for personal privacy reasons.
Renew’s chief executive, Kaveh Memari, defends his product, explaining that the bins can track phone signals and recognize the same phones, but cannot determine who’s phone it is or any other personal message. The idea would be similar to web “cookies”. This is the tracking of files that follow internet users through the web, and with these trash cans using phone signals to identify users, Memari hopes that he can “cookie the street.”
This is something that could provide the opportunity to track people occupying public transport or track people at stops. This could provide the potential to know, for example, where a certain user enters a bus and where he gets off. This could potentially allow the buses to identify patterns between users to be able to identify more acceptable bus routes.