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Maryland is using $1m federal grant to test digital IDs: The notion is that these IDs would allow a first responder to provide credentials, and produce an automatic count of who is on the scene. The first round of IDs won’t include GPS trackers, but that could be added. The cards will be scanned by handheld devices linked via WI-Fi to a network. Five thousand cards will be issued in this test, but there are only seven card readers.
The new York Times reports that a multi-year project for the transit system has significant flaws: The new radio system was designed to integrate above-ground and in-subway communications. The problem is that interference abounds making the system unusable, the Police Department says. The department won’t use the system, which was developed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The MTA’s police force merged in 1995 with the New York City Police Department.
The story is so typical, it makes one want to spit. Despite significant problems known as long as ago as 2001, the MTA kept authorizing the contractor to continue to build out. The police told the MTA in mid-2004 they wouldn’t use the interference-ridden system, and the MTA has been working on fixes. But they continued to press for the new system’s use, regardless of the lack of efficacy. The contractor doesn’t appear to be at fault because they built to spec, relying on the MTA for approval and for providing some infrastructure that proved inadequate.
At this point, the $140m cost will probably balloon to $210m, which is above the original $115m budget. Part of the cost is an additional $36m to replace underground wires used as antennas—something like leaky coax, I’m sure—that turned out to have 72 miles that was unusable, or about a fifth of the system they expected to rely on.
Another change will result from switching from analog to digital, which wasn’t an option when the network was planned several years ago.