Using GPS To Keep Track Of Street Signs

from the theft-prevention? dept

Back in college, one of the more popular decorations in the apartment I shared with some friends was street signs - that were often acquired under... less than legal circumstances (in my own defense, I was never part of the acquiring party - though, I did enjoy the decorations). There was one sign in particular that came with a pretty clear warning label designating it as the property of a nearby town, and describing all the penalties anyone possessing the sign might be in line for. The roommate who acquired that sign spent a couple of hours carefully scraping off that notice with a razor blade, which later came in handy when some friendly officers stopped by the apartment (ahhh... those college years). In the future, however, it may become a bit more difficult to get away with such crimes, as the folks in Santa Fe, New Mexico are attaching GPS receivers to every street sign. The article doesn't seem to focus on the theft-prevention aspect of the GPS, but I'm sure that's a major reason for adding it. The other reasons listed don't make much sense to me. The guy who is running the program claims that he'll use the GPS to determine if there's graffiti on the sign or if a tree or something is obstructing the sign. How on earth does a GPS system tell you either of these things? The only thing it's useful for is telling you when the sign has moved, and that's likely to be in the case of theft. Of course, this brings up the second question: how difficult can it be to find and remove the GPS device from the sign? I'm sure it's pretty obvious, since the sign is flat, so anyone stealing a sign would be smart to hack off any extraneous box before carting the sign home. If anything, this system will just make the signs more expensive to replace. Update: It appears that the original version of this story was inaccurate. They're not actually putting GPS on street signs, but just using GPS in a car to note the location of every street sign. So, not as big a waste of money. Still, though, why do you need GPS for this? Why can't they just drive around without GPS and check on the street signs?
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  • identicon
    Glenn, 13 Jun 2003 @ 8:08am

    No Subject Given

    I wouldn't condone such an action of course, but considering its usually highschool/college kids that take the signs as a prank; it would seem like an even bigger (funnier?) prank to steal the sign and drop it in the back seat of a government car...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2003 @ 8:13am

    No Subject Given

    I also seem to recall the need for a line of sight with multiple GPS sattelites for GPS to work. If I threw the sign in the trunk of my car and parked in the garage to take it out, it would never know where it went, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dave, 13 Jun 2003 @ 8:44am

    mo' money

    GPS is just half the story... they'll need transmitters on the signs which would take up even more power and cost more money, to relay back to the city where the signs were... seems like a big waste to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2003 @ 9:37am

    No Subject Given

    Nobody's putting GPS receivers on street signs. Read the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 13 Jun 2003 @ 11:14am

    Our big score in high school...

    ...was a Community Watch sign. Sucker was bolted on pretty good. At least two cars went by while I was working on it, but nobody called the cops, so I guess it didn't work anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mhh5, 13 Jun 2003 @ 10:09pm

    why do all that..?

    GPS doesn't seem to be the right technology at all for this particular "problem"....

    Why not video surveillance? They put up cheap cameras to catch people running red lights and monitor traffic... Use the same cameras to keep track of signs and monitor whether people obey them.

    I guess the challenge would then be to steal the cameras... and scrape the serial numbers (or whatever) off them...

    not that *I* would condone that sort of behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    digger2, 9 Jul 2004 @ 12:39pm

    why gps signs

    the reason govt's want to capture the location of street signs with GPS is that GIS (goegraphic Information systems) are becoming a widespread tool for managing Resources of a community. Street "furniture" is an asset ! the Governmental Accounting Standards Board requires govt's to keep up with these assets.

    Also, if you blow through an intersection missing a warning sign and get injured, you'll want someone to sue. If the govt can prove that they've been diligent through inventories and replacement/maintenance schedules, your case is a loser. It's called liability and asset management-not a waste of money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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