North Idaho Slow Growth

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    Who is Behind the TMC Spy Hub?

    Transportation Management Centers (TMCs) are an essential part of the federal government’s plan for a futuristic way of using SMART infrastructure and autonomous vehicles to manage regional transportation. Yet some KMPO officials seem surprised at the vehemence of public resistance to the proposal. 

    Although many public transportation officials see benefits to a regional TMC, to most North Idaho residents, the promised advantages of high-tech “Intelligent Transportation” systems (ITS) are meager compared to their dangers.  Critics see TMCs as part of a despotic federal effort to enable mass data collection and to consolidate transportation decision-making into a few hands.  

     “Nefarious Activities” and the KMPO

    And these concerns are only reinforced by some of the TMC proponents who believe the public is “over-reacting” to the proposal.    In a recent message, the KMPO director  indignantly denied that his organization or any of its staff intended to establish a spy network under the cover of a TMC.

    “If KMPO Board members . . .  believe KMPO, as an agency, or its staff . .  are currently, or could be engaged in nefarious, inappropriate, or malevolent activities such as: Planning Spy Centers, Planning for Spy Cameras, Prepping for Open air Prisons, Tracking People, Advancing Agenda 21, Advancing Smart Cities, Supporting 15 minute cities, CIA fronts, Disinformation campaigns, or False Statements, then there is a bigger problem than a traffic management center study.”
    —KMPO Director, June 30th letter to KMPO Board

    But denying that local officials are responsible for what is obviously a federal surveillance program does not diminish the threat.  And even the KMPO director himself calls such activities "nefarious and malevolent".  

    To be clear, critics of KMPO’s proposed TMC do not hold KMPO board members personally responsible for the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) or of the promotion of a local Traffic Management Center.  The push to “deploy” advanced traffic management systems is obviously coming from Federal Transportation agencies.  Local officials who support a TMC may be criticized for “failing to stand up to the feds”, but not for masterminding a national spy network.

    The mission of KMPO, of course, is to co-operate with Federal Transportation authorities in order to maximize Federal assistance for highway construction, so it is understandable that KMPO officials would take a positive view of federal initiatives.  The TMC is a high priority of the Federal government so if it was truly harmless, there would be little reason for KMPO officials to resist it.

    But a TMC is thought to be harmful by many who have investigated the matter, and the members of the KMPO board are ultimately responsible to the people of Kootenai county.  So if public sentiment is strongly against a TMC—as it appears to be—it is imperative for board members to take those concerns into consideration, and investigate the matter themselves.   Several already have, and it is probable that the more KMPO board members learn about TMCs, the more they will agree with critic's concerns.

    ITS: A Hard-to-kill Federal Hydra

    So if enough KMPO officials recognize the threat that a TMC poses to North Idaho residents, and votes it down, (which is looking increasingly likely), then problem solved, right?

    Not quite.   Although there would be great cause for celebration if plans for the TMC were abandoned, North Idaho would still not be out-of-the-woods.    A TMC is what opponents have called the “Brains” of an “Intelligent Transportation” network because it is the regional data collection and processing center.  But there is much more to ITS than just data processing, and a TMC, being essentially software, can be easily reworked into some other, less noticible form.    

    ITS is a many-headed monster that is difficult to suppress, so even while Kootenai residents are focusing on cutting off the TMC head, the conversion of all federally funded highway infrastructure to SMART surveillance technology is proceeding apace. 

    The problem is, the DOT’s entire vision of a futuristic, interconnected, fully automated, “Intelligent Transportation System”, is deeply flawed and repellent to many people  Yet the Federal government is continuing to work toward nationwide deployment of SMART infrastructure that could be easily abused to quash privacy and strictly limit human activity.  

    This is not science fiction.  It’s our federal government vision for the future of transporation, as the video link below, from the DOT ITS program website makes clear.  

    ITS:  What’s Available Today and the Vision for Tomorrow.

    This video shows that the Federal Government’s future plan for transportation involves moving away from human operated vehicles towards a centralized, fully-automated, A.I. based system.  The plan is to start by using TMCs to centralized control of familiar technology, such as cameras, traffic signals, meters, and parking systems. 

    But that is only the beginning.  The next phase will involve driverless vehicles, artificial intelligence, and cybersecuritytechnologies that will be used to “solve all mobility challenges” and “improve safety”.   And if that is not advanced enough for you, we are promised that the Federal ITS system will eventually be employed to “solve critical issues, such as public health, job creation, social equity, and climate change.”  

    The last thing in the world anyone should want is a Department of Transporation that concerns itself with "public health, social equity, and climate change." 

    Either you are OK with the federal government’s vision of a dystopian, technocratic future, where people are packed into human habitation zones, and all their problems are “solved” by mass data collection, automation, and A.I., or you are not OK with this.  And if you reject the Department of Transportation’s vision of a brave, new, computer-dominated, ITS future, then you had better continue to pay attention to highways and roadside infrastructure in Kootenai County.  

    Because every single road project in Kootenai County that is funded by the Federal Government (virtually all of them) is required to use SMART,  ITS compatible surveillance technology: SMART traffic signals, SMART vehicles, SMART meters, SMART road signs, SMART street lights.  And turning down SMART technology, involves turning down federal money. . . which is nearly impossible to do.     

    And once the data collection technology is in place, only the problem of figuring out a pretext to collect and process it remains.    All the software required to establish a TMC data processing center, either legitimately and openly, or underhandedly will fit on a thumb drive.  

    The ITS Hydra is much harder to kill than just decapitating one TMC.    If we don’t sear its tenacles, expose its diabolical nature, and continue the fight, it will grow back stronger than ever.

    Guinea Pigs in a Federal Research Program

    To be clear, none of the concerns that have been raised regarding TMCs and ITS are conspiratorial or unfounded.   The DOT's Research division has been developing ITS Technology for almost 30 years, and the National ITS Architecture, which provides the hardware and specifications needed to implement these futuristic services has already been defined and tested.    

    ITS Joint Program’s Office is the department of the DOT that is in charge of masterminding “Intelligent Transportation” and co-ordinating technology and data collection strategies throughout the federal government.  

    The ITS JPO plan for promoting and deploying ITS technologies nationwide is clearly laid out in its Strategic Plan 2020-2025.   All this technological development has been done under the guise of research, and even now the the DOT is prioritizing “Acceleration of ITS deployment”  as one of its primary "research" initiatives. 

    The following diagram shows where the ITS JPO fits into the organizational chart of the Federal government.

     There are several unusual things about how the ITS Joint Program Office is organized. 

    First of all ITS JPO is under DOT’s “Research” arm and it is organized as a “Joint Program” office, so that it can access funds, collaborators, and research facilities from throughout the Federal government.  This is an advantageous arrangement providing not only flexibility, but some protection from congressional oversight.   After all, if ITS development is still only a “research”, program, there is no need to debate, enact, or enforce federal laws limiting its use.

    Secondly, ITS JPO works closely with private contractors, including Iteris and Booz Allen Hamilton.   Iteris, the company designing KMPO’s TMC has received millions of dollars in DOT grants for development of the National ITS Architecture, including a recent $20M grant to help with “Deployment” of ITS systems.

    Booz Allen Hamilton, a well-known Federal Intelligence contractor has also been a leading force in development of the DOT’s ITS Architecture, and especially in its connected vehicle research.  We’ve discussed BAH,  federal intelligence agencies, and the close relationship between the FHWA's Turner Fairbank Highway Research facility and Intelligence agencies in other articles.

    All of this clearly demonstrates that ITS is a federally conceived, federally funded program being foisted on local communities with no real input, consultation, or disclosure of its ultimate intent.  

    Americans are being used as guinea pigs in a DOT funded “experiment” involving 24/7 surveillance, mass data collection, A.I., connected cars, and the total transformation of our Transportation network.   

    North Idaho citizens do not want universal surveillance, mass data collection, or federally monitored SMART cities. And the federally designed, federal funded, and federally controlled TMC planned for Kootenai County is a giant step in exactly the wrong direction.



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