Connectivity, Artificial Intelligence & Privacy – A Tightrope Walk With Real Consequences

While there is a leeming’s rush to be ahead of the pack with development of large-scale, connected, artificial-intelligence networks, society’s privacy cannot be left to unregulated peeping toms at our bedroom windows.

In the field of road transportation there are obvious advantages to connecting vehicles to each other and to the roadways on which they travel. However there must also be a framework that protects the personal information that, inevitably, becomes gathered in the vast data networks needed for connectivity.

For decades the Ontario Minstry of Transportation has been monitoring vehicular traffic along the major, 400-series expressways on a 24/7 basis. The quantity of such data is mind-boggling. Similar data is collected from any large retail outlets that track purchasing actions through the use of debit, credit and loyality cards. Even individuals who use their cell phones and fitness meters are tracked in terms of their locations and habits. A real controlling factor in usage of this data has been the lack of computering power and artificial intelligence that is now being unleashed.

Google’s Sidewalk Labs in Toronto has proposed that collected data be overseen by an independent “data trust”. But, as has been seen before, lack of transperancy allows governments and large international corporations to infiltrate such agencies with partisan entities without the public’s knowledge, resulting in no meaningful trustworthiness.

Regettable losses due to the increased powers of new technology could be those simple acts of individuals who have no ability or intention to use personal data inappropriately. Persons taking videos of their families in public places used to be an innocuous act. Various data that is unconnected and created independently in small envolopes used for various private and public purposes may also be a new target. The possession of independently-developed information itself may become illegal under new laws that attempt to harness the vast powers of large, private, data-analysis corporations and, in the process, create a society of “1984” depicted in literature and “2001” in film.

While connectivity, big-data analysis and artificial intelligence have the potential of providing great benefits to society, they also provide the ability for large, and small,  local and international, entities to escape detection and oversight. As developers of these sophisticated systems we have the capability to study the horizon ahead before following our hysterical brethern over the proverbial cliff. Let us hope this remains our choice.

Drownings Persist With No Questions Asked & No Answers Given

Official news agencies continue to report on various mysterious vehicular drownings  where bodies are found inside submerged vehicles yet no questions are asked. While Gorski Consulting  does not have access to any official counts, at least three persons have likely drowned in the last day or two.

Yesterday, July 3rd, 2019, two bodies were found in a vehicle that reportedly drove into Lake Ontario at LaSalle Park in Burlington, Ontario. The vehicle reportedly “crashed through a concrete barrier” before plunging into the water, landing “40 to 50 feet” beyond the water edge. Yet, photos showing the vehicle being lifted out of the water showed no significant evidence of damage that would support the information that the vehicle crashed through a concrete barrier. A glancing contact to a concrete structure might have occurred but without more detailed information it is unclear what transpired.

At a similar time the OPP in Grey County were reportedly called to Gray Road 25, just west of Hihgway 6 where they reportedly found a submerged vehicle with a body inside.Investigators were apparently unclear as to which direction the vehicle was travelling when it left the roadway. No information about the identity of the deceased was provided nor how the incident occurred.

It was only about two weeks ago, on June 17th, that three teenagers perished when their vehicle became submerged in a roadside ditch near Leamington. No meaningful information was provided as to how that incident occurred. At a similar time, on Jun 17th, two bodies were found in a submerged vehicle in the Murray Canal southeast of Peterborough, Ontario.

This view of a vehicle being pulled out of the Murray Canal near Peterborough, Ontario is often the most detailed information that the public recieved in terms how deceased persons are found in submerged vehicles.

In most of these deadly incidents there is rarely any information as to how persons came to their deaths. Even basic photos of the exterior of the vehicles are often unavailable nor are any meaningful photos shown of any potential evidence at the sites where the vehicles enter the water.

Even when a vehicle enters deeper water it often does not sink directly to the bottom but stays afloat, often for several minutes. In those minutes occupants might have an opportunity to escape. Yet no information is provided as to why such escapes have been unsuccessful.

Clearly there are many questions that need to be asked and answered. But the level of concern toward the plight of these innocent lost lives appears to be as low as the bottoms of the waters in which they are found.

Northbound Red Hill Valley Parkway – Differences Between Old & Re-Paved Surfaces

Gorski Consulting tested the old surface of the northbound Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton, Ontario and then re-tested the surface after it was re-paved. This article discusses some of the differences.

This view of the northound lanes of the Red Hill Valley was taken during testing by Gorski Consulting on June 16, 2019 just after the surface was re-paved.

The table below shows the data from the old surface that was obtained from testing on May 15, 2019. This was just before the roadway was shut down in preparation for re-paving.

The table below shows the data from the newly, re-paved, northbound surface from testing obtained June 16, 2019. This was at a time when the southbound lanes were still to be re-paved.

Comparing the two tables it can be noted that the reported testing commenced at an “earlier” location (i.e. further westward) in the May 15th testing on the old surface. The first row of the May 15th data shows a portion of the 30 seconds of travel where the first 21.5 seconds were obtained from west of the Pritchard Road overpass. This portion of the surface produced the highest motion of the test vehicle (Lateral Rotation = 0.0309, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0190). In contrast the data from June 16th (on the newly paved surface) begins after passing the Pritchard Road overpass and the first data is from 10 seconds west of the Mud Street overpass. This difference in starting points was part of the reason why there was such a difference in the “Overall” averages of motion. While we are not aware of the specific boundary where the Lincoln Alexander Parkway becomes defined as the Red Hill Valley Parkway, the larger vehicle motions caused on the surface west of Pritchard are more consistent with the higher motions obtained throughout the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

Comparisons can begin to be made when the test vehicle approaches the Mud Street overpass. In the table of the old surface data, the second row indicates that the road segment begins at 5.65 seconds before reaching the Mud Street overpass. At a speed of 86 km/h (23.9 metres per second) this means that the reported segment started at 135 metres west of Mud Street. In contrast the road segment in the first row of the table from the re-paved surface began at 10.0 seconds prior to reaching the Mud Street overpass. At an average of 88 km/h (24.4 metres per second) this means that we started documenting the data at about 244 metres prior to reaching the Mud Street overpass. So, this means that the documenting of the data from the re-paved surface began about 109 metres earlier. In other words, the second row of data of the old surface is comparable to the first row of data of the re-paved surface, except that the new data was started about 109 metres further west (i.e. “earlier”).

When we look at those two road segments starting west of Mud Street, we can note following vehicle motions:

Old Surface: Lateral Rotation = 0.0290, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0116

New Surface: Lateral Rotation = 0.0129, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0093

So there is a reduced level of motion of the test vehicle on the re-paved surface, particularly in the lateral motion.

The old surface data shows that the next seven road segments (i.e. next 7 rows of data) are illustrated in a green colour meaning that they are below 0.0200 radians per second. So this means that the surfaces of the road segments are in good condition. The distance over these seven road segments goes from 582 metres north of Mud Street to 765 metres north of Queenston Road. Taking the average of all these seven road segments gives us the following average: Lateral Rotation = 0.0152, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0127.

In comparison we can look at the seven road segments from the table of re-paved surfaces: from 489 metres north of Mud Street to 892 metres north of Queenston Road. Taking the average of all seven road road segments gives us the following: Lateral Rotation = 0.0133, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0101.

Comparing the differences in these averages shows that there has been an improvement, as expected, in the surface of the Red Hill Valley Parkway, after the re-paving was completed. Yet, the quality of the surface before the re-paving was “not bad”, or well below the 0.0200 threshold.

We can make a further comparison of the Red Hill Valley data to the data that we obtained on May 5, 2019 on the westbound Highway 401 from Wonderland Road to Tilbury, Ontario. This data was reported in a news article of May 29, 2019 entitled “Additional Road Data From Westbound Highway 401 Testing”. The overall average of the Highway 401 data was: Lateral Rotation = 0.0126, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0096. We would consider this data as the “gold standard” for road surfaces because there is no other road data that we have collected which produced lower test-vehicle motions at highway speeds.

We can see that the re-paved Red Hill Valley road segments are not far behind the quality of the Highway 401 data. The lateral rotation on the Red Hill Valley was 0.0133 versus Highway 401 which was 0.0126. And for the Longitudinal rotation the Red Hill Valley was 0.0101 while Highway 401 was 0.0096. All these values are well below the 0.0200 threshold for what we defined to be a “good” road surface. Furthermore, the old surface of the Red Hill Valley was of lower quality but certainly well below the 0.0200 threshold and much lower than the results obtained from testing along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

Testing Of Re-Paved, Northbound Red Hill Valley Parkway

No obvious problems were detected when the re-paved, northbound Red Hill Valley Parkway was re-tested on June 16, 2019. This is the conclusion drawn after Gorski Consulting conducted testing in response to a driving instructor’s complaint to the Hamilton Spectator newspaper that the re-paved surface was “a disaster”. The “Letter-to-the Editor” of the Hamilton Spectator is shown below:

“Newly-paved road a disaster

RE: Red Hill

I had the displeasure of using the newly-paved downbound portion of the Red Hill Expressway. It is a disaster.

In my normal day of work, I teach bus and truck driving for a large trucking company here in Hamilton. Today I transferred one bus to London and returned with another to Hamilton. The bus is a beautiful Thomas coach. I had no trouble driving and handling it from London via 401, then 403 to the Linc in Hamilton. But once getting onto the new pavement of the Red Hill downbound, it felt as if my tires were out of balance and the steering started to shimmy, plus the ride was a bit bouncy. My conclusion is that the paving was rushed and not tested at high-speed driving. This is why the pavement is uneven. I predict that there will be some anxious moments by drivers in the next few days.

To further exacerbate the Red Hill’s downbound problem, the road marking where the road comes up to Barton Street is incorrectly painted. This intersection since its inception has had three lanes, one left turning lane, middle lane turning both left or right, and the curb lane turning right. The pavement markings were correct prior to repaving. But now there are two left turning lanes and one right turning lane despite the signage on the post advising drivers otherwise. Tsk, tsk, tsk, rushing things causes a big mess that will have to be corrected later.

I suggest that the City of Hamilton should have some big vehicle go downhill, obeying the speed limit and see what is the experience.

Dez Miklós, Hamilton”

On June 16, 2019, Gorski Conculting conducted testing along both the Lincoln Alexander and the Red Hill Valley Parkway, in the same manner as the previously-reported testing of May 15, 2019. The test vehicle was driven eastbound on the Lincoln Alexander then northbound on the Red Hill Valley. Since the southbound Red Hill Valley had not yet been re-paved the test vehicle was driven along Centennial Parkway back to the east end of the Lincoln Alexander and testing was conducted westbound back toward Highway 403. As per the previous testing of May 15th, the test results were separated into tables: eastbound Lincoln Alexander, northbound Red Hill Valley and westbound Lincoln Alexander. These tables are shown below.

 

 

It can be recalled from previous discussions that values in green that are below 0.0200 radians per second indicate a road surface that is generally in good conditions. Values in black that are from 0.0200 to 0.0500 indicate that some problems likely exist in the road segment. Values in red that are at 0.0500 and above indicate that the road segment contains major problems through a large portion of the measured distance.

High-speed, controlled-access expressways such as those shown in these tables should exhibit the highest levels of service and should generally not exhibit averages above 0.0200 radians per second. It is clear that a number of road segments along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway contain values well above 0.0200 and one, along westbound Dartnall Road contained an average well over 0.0400 radians per second.

None of the data along the re-paved, northbound portion of the Red Hill Valley Parkway indicated any obvious problems. The complainant who wrote to the Hamilton Spectator newspaper was driving a large bus at the time of his experience and this vehicle is obviously quite different than the mid-sized, 2007 Buick Allure that was used in the testing by Gorski Consulting. There may be special conditions that might develop that may not be detected due to the differences in the vehicles being used. Unfortunately we are not in a position to locate the complainant and obtain further information about his experience.

Further discussions about these data and comparisons to other tested highways will be provided in future articles on the Gorski Consulting website.

Nothing Said of Third “Drowning” Victim in Leamington Crash

If not for the Windsor Star newspaper there would be no news what-so-ever of the triple “drowning” crash of June 16, 2019 near Leamington, Ontario. In fact not even the Windsor Star could confirm that all three occupants who were trapped in an upside down car in a roadside ditch actually drowned. The Windsor Star reported that “OPP technical collision investigators examined the crash site extensively” yet the Star also reported that “OPP have released few details about the incident”. The only objective information was left to generic photos taken from GoogleMaps and displayed in the Windsor Star article, such as the one below.

The Windsor Star caption accompanying the above photo read ” A June 2014 Google Maps image of the water-filled ditch on the east side of the intersection of Mersea Roads 1 and 19 near Leamington”. A photo from 2014? Thus it appears no one could actually attend the site to get a currrent photo of its present status.

This is an appauling example of the apathy surrounding the deaths of three teenagers from a dangerous roadside condition. Clearly a barrier is warranted at such a location and the OPP investigators or any technical investigators should be aware of that fact. If the teenagers had been killed by a drunk driver there would have been ample publicity by the OPP and news agencies throughout Ontario and beyond, and rightfully so. But clearly the picking and choosing of dangerous factors to publicize for the public’s consumption cannot be the role of police or official news agencies. When it is altered news it is no better than fake news.

The Windsor Star needs to be congratulated in keeping the public from the dark while no other news agency dared to report on this terrible tragedy.

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