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The DOT is Seeking 400 Drivers to Volunteer to Be Spied On

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The DOT is Seeking 400 Drivers to Volunteer to Be Spied On

2015-09-09 15:08:011 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

-by Yuliya Geikhman, Staff Writer; Image: Traffic in Herald Square (Image Source: Matthias Rhomberg / realsmiley on Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Do you want to help the Department of Transportation improve the road conditions in New York City?

You can do that now, as long as you don’t mind the DOT placing a black box in your car and monitoring your every action when you drive.

The NYC DOT is looking for 400 volunteers for a year-long program called Drive Smart, which would help the department learn new information about the habits of New York drivers, and potentially help make progress towards traffic problems like clogged intersections.

Volunteers would be allowing the DOT to place a tracker into their cars’ steering columns. This tracker would send data about your driving habits to their HQ, including information about every time you slam on the brakes or make a fast turn.

The flow of information is meant to go both ways, though, and volunteers will be rewarded for their help by getting information to their phones. The DOT will know where you are at all times, and send instant tips to your phone about upcoming traffic jams and much more.

All the information you will be giving the DOT will also be used to give you tailored tips on how to keep your car in better condition for longer, and which roads to take to avoid traffic. Participants will also receive perks like a 30 percent discount on Allstate insurance, as long as you’re a safe driver.

“The volunteer’s information ... goes to the DOT servers so they can use that for traffic management,” said Jamyn Edis, cofounder of a part of the pilot program called Dash, reports the Daily News. “It’s a much more cost-effective way to leverage data to make roads safer.”

Of course, this is a lot of data about you, your location, and your driving habits. The DOT assures potential volunteers that privacy and security won’t be compromised, but at least one expert is concerned.

“In this day and age of hacking, perhaps something might get downloaded to your phone to intercept the data that is being transmitted through your phone,” said Paul Stephens from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

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