In its efforts to manage and monitor the flow of human beings through the city, Moscow officials have experimented with mobile apps, QR codes, and telephone hotlines. Many of these systems have confused the elderly, overwhelmed operators, and frustrated virtually everyone. According to a new public contract reported in the Russian news media, the capital now plans to invest in a less intrusive technology that silently tracks traffic flows by logging background connections with random mobile devices.
Under plans, 220 bus-stops and city-navigation pylons around Moscow will be equipped with hardware and software systems capable of collecting MAC-addresses from mobile devices’ through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi inside a radius of 50 meters (164 feet). These systems would generate reports about an individual device’s movements over the past hour, day, week, month, and year. These data would be downloaded to a single storage center managed by Moscow’s Information Technology Department.