In response to the attempted Christmas Day bomb plot, transportation officials have unleashed a whole host of new protocols to increase security checks at airports and on planes. One of these new rules included the turning-off of the in-flight entertainment systems that showed the rough location of the airplane on map, as well as ordering pilots not to point out landmarks should potential terrorists use it to identify targets and their location.
It is unsurprising that transportation officials want to now limit the amount of information given to passengers, but the increase in real-time information on bus routes, planes times and such gives potential terrorists a flood of information. So is the increase in real-time information potentially too dangerous, especially when it comes to transport times, and as such should certain aspects be restricted or does the spread of information make us no less safe or unsafe than before?
The Schwebebahn example
In Germany, there is a suspended monorail in the town of Wuppertal called the Schwebebahn. Recently, it was announced that the train would be undergoing an upgrade, with the installation of a number of new features designed to make life that little bit easier for the region's commuters. Amongst the little things like light-up handrails and stroller spaces is an interactive information panel, a portal that gives train routes and times to any passenger, updated in real time with any delays or deviations.
Of course, the majority of passengers will use this system as it was meant to be intended, to find out train times and routes, but it could have a devastating use if a potential terrorist could time a bomb to the second of when a train would arrive or leave a station.
The increase in geo-location technology
With Twitter and other real-time social media becoming more and more popular, it is no surprise that geo-location is set to becoming a integral part of social media in 2010. Of course, there are social reasons for knowing where your friends are at any particular time, and for businesses it is ideal for targeting consumers, but there is the potential for manipulation, such as the creation of false alibis and working out where someone is at a certain time.
However, this is pure speculation and the sort of knee-jerk reaction that the transportation industry, as well as the public, are prone to in the aftermath of a potential disaster. So should real-time information be censored to prevent the small chance of a terrorist attack or is it just another pointless measure that will have no real effect?