By Aaron Kesel
San Francisco app developers are working with government to give homeless people a tap on the shoulder of Big Brother, tracking their every move … for their benefit, of course!
An app developer, Nevada startup BitFocus Inc., wants to track and monitor every homeless person in San Francisco with ONE System, a scary and worrying prospect.
“The idea is simple: Collect and sort information associated with the homeless to more effectively assess risk factors, determine those most in need, and get those people into available shelters and transitional housing. But the reality is more complicated. Five months after its introduction, ONE System has helped get only 70 people off the streets as it contends with the same challenges that have plagued past efforts—as well as new ones, including persuading the city’s most at-risk population to sign on to a program with echoes of Big Brother,” writes Bloomberg.
According to Bloomberg, ONE System collects data from 15 city and state agencies. Then homeless persons are asked 17 questions that can help evaluate their individual situation, including their time spent on the street, health, and overall vulnerability.
This information combined with a record of the places in the city that a person frequents is used to create a database that acts as a digital profile for caseworkers. The caseworkers helping homeless people get back on their feet would then use this data to aid them in assisting the homeless community to obtain help with their health and housing needs.
Caseworkers then must persuade the homeless to join a monitoring system. Participants in ONE System must sign medical records privacy protection forms and other legal forms. Further, to get into a permanent housing program, app users need to pass a background check, which can take 45 days and requires an identification card, a hardship since most homeless people don’t have a phone or an ID card.
The San Francisco director of the city’s department of homelessness and supportive housing notes in his comment to Bloomberg compares the homeless people to “building an air traffic control system.”
“We’re trying to build what I think of as an air traffic control system,” Jeff Kositsky, told Bloomberg.
The company raised a total of $5 million dollars for its pilot “air traffic control system” for the homeless and has 50 employees, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, if you try to feed the homeless as a citizen you face fines and even jail time, as Activist Post has reported consistently on the increasingly worrying trend.
App developers trying to offer the homeless a way to find free food worldwide, Chef90, were sued for their efforts to help homeless people. Chef90 allowed anyone to coordinate food drops and locations and was designed to allow small amounts of food, clothing, or blankets to be distributed to those in need.
“Example: Post Item = I have 4 apples View Items = Users with Chef-90 pick up the 4 apples and Distributes them to children in need on their way to work. Chef-90 uses GPS to find items close to users to easy distribute food or other items.
Everyone can do a small part to help someone in need.
This app gives users the tools to achieve that goal,” the app description read according to APKPure (who keeps a downloadable copy of all apps on the Google Play Store.)
The app Chef90 was available on both Google Play and Apple Stores named after the famous chef, 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, who sought to go above and beyond to feed the homeless. For his good deeds, Abbott found himself facing up to two months in jail and hundreds of dollars in fines after laws that restrict public feeding of the homeless went into effect in Fort Lauderdale in 2014, Reuters reported.
However, like Abbott, developers of Chef90 quickly found themselves in legal trouble with cease and desist orders, and sued. The developers were then forced to take down the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play store, according to a developer who worked on the app and wishes to remain anonymous.
Now we have ONE System, an app that wants to help the homeless with an endorsement from the San Francisco government. Once again this proves that unless an effort originates from the government and the government makes money, they don’t care about homeless people.
The major concern for everyone in a government-run app opposed to a citizen-run app is, who has control of the data?
If authorities discover drug use or violent crime through the tracking system, could it become a digital policing tool?
Authorities tell Bloomberg, no, but the reality is there’s no law governing the use of the data, so it isn’t clear what might happen.
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.