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By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-07-12 Print this article Print

Goldner also plans to enable GPS technologies that will let MapInfo Professional automatically determine the best route to an emergency site based on the coordinates of an officers location. GPS capabilities are built into the MapInfo Professional framework, but policies have to be developed to ensure the privacy of BART police officers before such technologies can be deployed, Goldner said.

"There are some concerns at the staff level about what location information will be used for," Goldner said. "Officers are worried about the Big Brother effect and having people watch where theyre eating lunch or how much time theyre spending at stations."

One way to alleviate concerns, according to Goldner, is to deploy the technology locally to laptops in police cars and allow only police officers to know their location coordinates when LBS applications are accessed on the laptop.

The BART Police Department plans to increase the use of LBS technologies for homeland security, Goldner said. MapInfo is used to identify geographical liabilities, such as tunnels and subways, and assets, such as hospitals and schools, to analyze how the locations of these facilities will impact the transit system during an emergency.

Liabilities also include the Transbay Tube, a section of the BART system that connects Oakland stations to San Francisco stations and runs underneath San Francisco Bay.

The use of LBS has been so successful at the BART Police Department that other BART departments are asking for access to the applications as well, said Goldner. For example, efforts are being made to provide BARTs engineering department with access to the application, she said, so engineers can pinpoint radio dead spots to improve telecommunications.

Click here to read how open standards will evolve location-based services. BART also is considering posting additional password-controlled maps to its public Web site for viewing by other law enforcement agencies and general maps for public viewing.

"Wed like to use location-based software to provide a lot of information to the public," Goldner said. "We have the ability to do so now, but its a new area for BART, and were aware that privacy and policy issues need to be addressed first."

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at

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As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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