Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti is taking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to task for signing off on a pact to add data-mining sensors to Michigan Avenue light poles without first notifying City Council.
"Clearly, the mayor exceeded his reach here," the 2nd Ward alderman tells the Chicago Tribune. "We need to step back and do the proper due diligence on this deal.”
A vocal judge of Emanuel's mayoral leadership, Fioretti has requested a hearing on the research project slated to take effect mid-July that involves the installation of design-y metal fixtures doubling as sensors collecting data on the city's people and environment. Big Brother worriers, take note: Researchers insist they will use the sensors to count Michigan Avenue passersby through mobile phones' wireless signals rather than monitor personal information and identities.
Fioretti complains of "obvious invasion-of-privacy concerns" but is mainly peeved at Emanuel for going over City Council's head on a public venture that requires aldermanic approval. He also criticized City Hall for potentially losing out on millions that might have been gained through an agreement with a big data company.
Emanuel opted against charging money for the "Array of Things" project being launched in collaboration with a research team from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab.
City officials defend the information-collecting endeavor as putting Chicago on the leading edge of urban data innovation, and intend in the future to add more of the fixtures to light poles beyond the city's most famous avenue.