Weekly Digital News Roundup: Aug 20 – Aug 24
The License Plate Surveillance Technology That Caught the Virginia Shooter
- According to the Newsweek, in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Bill Overton divulged that state police were able to find Vester Lee Flanagan when his rental car’s license plate number was picked up by a trooper’s license plate reader. Flanagan, who was wanted for themurder of a TV reporter and a cameraman shot while doing a live report, fled when police tried to pull him over and ultimately shot himself.
- Automatic license plate readersare a little-known surveillance technology used by law enforcement to track America’s motorists. You may not be able to describe a license plate reader, but you’ve likely seen them. They aren’t hiding; the gadget can be mounted on anything from bridges and overpasses to road signs and police cars.
- The readers are equipped with high-speed cameras to take pictures of thousands of license plates per minute and software to analyze the pictures for a license plate number. That information is checked against “hot lists,” including stolen vehicles or those subject to an Amber alert search, and law enforcement is notified if there is a match. The image and identified plate number, along with date, time and location, are sent to various regional law enforcement databases.
In-Flight Wi-Fi Prices Jump as Demand Surges
- According to New York Times, Many travelers are experiencing sticker shock fromin-flight Wi-Fi these days. While there are several in-flight Wi-Fi providers, including ViaSat and Global Eagle Entertainment, Gogo is the top provider, equipping more than 2,000 planes from airlines like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America with its service, up from 1,300 in 2011. Gogo’s prices often change depending on when and where you are flying. But on some flights prices have doubled from three years ago.
- Wi-Fi service on transcontinental flights — such as from San Francisco to New York, from Boston to Seattle or from Los Angeles to New York — now cost $28 to $40, up from roughly $18 in 2012, according to Gogo.
- Gogo’s prices are not just higher now; they are also more unpredictable. The company uses a method called dynamic pricing, in which it tries to forecast the demand for Wi-Fi on each flight and scale pricing accordingly. So the prices for the full durations of transcontinental flights also change each day: Gogo charges the most, $40, on Mondays and Thursdays; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays cost $34; and Saturdays are the cheapest, at $28.
CatchUp app helps friends reconnect when their travel plans overlap
- According to LA Times, Julius Koehler and business partner Malko Schraner very nearly didn’t run into each other, which means their new start-up almost didn’t happen. They were already old friends and frequented the same ski resort, but had no idea they were there at the same time. They only bumped into each other again randomly. Not long after that, the idea was formed for an app that would connect acquaintances in that kind of situation.
- The new app is CatchUp, which Koehler, Schraner and Theo Sarasin now run as co-founders from the start-up’s base in Hong Kong. “What CatchUp does is that it looks into the future, so you can make a booking and search ahead of time and check which people are going there — and arrange to meet them before you actually arrive at a certain city or place,” Koehler says.
- The app connects with Facebook, but it’ll soon get support for LinkedIn to add in business networking catch-ups as well. Facebook is all about now and what happened in the past and lacks any kind of “location transparency,” he says. So the team sees CatchUp as doing something vital — and complementary to the behemoth social network.