Intrado Not to Intrude in BellinghamPermalink +
Tue, Jul 08, 2014, 8:20 am // Dick Conoboy
Last night the Bellingham City Council voted to ask the chief of police and the mayor to withdraw a grant request to the Department of Justice for the acquisition of the Intrado-Beware threat warning system. The administration agreed to abide by the council’s request and use the grant funding for another purpose within the police department. The decision by the council came at the end of a second hearing during which over a dozen citizens strongly unleashed their views. My report on the first hearing, held on 23 Jun 2014 can be read here. You can also view the video of citizen comments here (scroll to 40.00 on the video counter).
Yesterday’s hearing was scheduled after the council meeting two weeks ago at which the police department (no department representatives were present) provided an agenda bill for information only. Their plan was to ask the Department of Justice for a grant in the amount of $25,000 to fund the Intrado-Beware threat warning system. The grant also included $15,000 for purchase of additional ballistic plates to be added to body armor for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. The body armor purchase was not contested although it is unclear if that request will go forward in that the Bellingham Police Department was the initiating agency.
As with the first hearing, the council received some sharp and often colorful blowback during the comment period. Although the police couched the justification for Intrado in terms of officer and community safety, most of the comments were about the invasive nature of the software and the implications for privacy. Several noted that the Supreme Court recently ruled that the police cannot search a cell phone without first obtaining a search warrant. The Intrado system with its allegedly sweeping ability to gather private information from many open and unidentified commercial sources appeared to serve as a possible workaround to the cell phone search restriction.
Those commenting also had grave reservations over the implications of a private company engaging in what is essentially police work. The algorithms its software uses for arriving at threat assessments is proprietary. No studies appear to be available that attest to the overall utility of the system although the police department provided some anecdotal evidence of the system’s assistance during several incidents. Again, there were no reports of incidents where the police may have been misled by the software. The lack of information and the secrecy around the product served to give the council pause.
Many people complimented our police force for generally being a good one. They also opined that the acquisition of this threat warning system would irrevocably harm any trust the public now has with the police. Intrado itself came in for much criticism as it appears that the Intrado-Beware is a recent, notably unproven extension to its rather generalized service across the U.S. in providing 911 services to communities. [Note: Intrado, along with Century Link, was involved in the April 911 outage in Washington state during which 4,500 emergency calls went unanswered.]
The council was also concerned about the fact that the initial documentation for information during the 23 June council meeting did not reveal that the grant only covered the first year of a five-year agreement. The agreement evidently called for an additional $20,000 per year for service, thus obligating the city for $80,000. The police chief and the city attorney were left to respond to the council’s questions while the mayor provided little input to the discussion. She had previously (on 23 June) assured the council that once the police were present during the second hearing to answer questions, the rationale for the Intrado system would be convincing. It did not work out that way.
Tue, Jul 08, 2014, 8:20 am // Dick ConoboyThe city council "persuades" the city administration to withdraw a request for an intrusive police threat warning system
2 comments; last on Jul 08, 2014
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 10:24 am // Dick ConoboyThe Bellingham Police Department wants to purchase "threat assessment" software with federal monies. Citizen comments were vehement and negative. City Council confused.
5 comments; last on Jul 03, 2014
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 7:53 am // Dick ConoboyThe possession and use of consumer fireworks are no longer permitted within the city limits.
1 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 6:28 am // Dick ConoboyEvery Bellingham Planning Commission member has ties to development or development-related businesses.
4 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 8:28 am // Dick ConoboyThe infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.
1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 6:30 am // Dick ConoboyProfessional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.
3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 6:14 am // Dick ConoboyThe developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.
3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 6:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 6:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 6:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 10:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.
8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 11:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia
3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 1:00 am // Dick ConoboyIndependent voters are for independent thinkers on the city council. Vote for Burr and Petree.
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 4:16 pm // Dick ConoboyThe development of University Ridge will replicate the student ghetto that fueled the riot on 12 October.
6 comments; last on Oct 25, 2013
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 8:09 am // Dick ConoboyHearing held on 11 September. Comment period extended 10 days. Effects on home owners already manifest.
8 comments; last on Sep 22, 2013
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge process works only to the benefit of the developers. The public is offered tight deadlines and insufficient information.
1 comments; last on Sep 21, 2013
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe University Ridge dormitory development approval process is broken. The City Council should act.
1 comments; last on Aug 17, 2013
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 11:22 am // Dick ConoboyCandidates for the Bellingham School Board need to let us know where they stand on charter schools.
3 comments; last on Aug 05, 2013
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 8:04 pm // Dick ConoboyA variance request without merit is the centerpiece of a development proposal to construct a complex of four dormitory-style buildings among single family homes in the Puget Neighborhood
Thu, Jun 06, 2013, 6:30 pm // Dick ConoboyD-Day forgotten.
Mon, May 20, 2013, 12:48 pm // Dick ConoboyYou can give your money, normally dished out to fireworks manufacturers and distributors, to organizations that help our disabled veterans. Change the way we celebrate Independence Day.
Mon, May 13, 2013, 3:50 am // Dick ConoboySome very important issues with respect to the University Ridge private dormitory project in the Puget Neighborhood will not be considered in the approval process.
10 comments; last on Jun 30, 2013
Wed, May 08, 2013, 9:53 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development has proposed building private, off-campus dormitory buildings in the Puget Neighborhood. Their revised proposal was submitted on 29 April.
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 3:59 pm // Dick ConoboyDangerous fireworks likely to continue being sold in Bellingham for this 4th of July
1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013
Thu, Apr 04, 2013, 12:48 pm // Dick ConoboyIt seems that for Apple products, you do not really own that hard drive... as a journalist recently discovered.
2 comments; last on Apr 13, 2013
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 11:50 am // Dick ConoboySeveral complaints to the city seem to have occasioned a postponement of a height variance hearing until a complete development proposal is submitted.
1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013
Wed, Mar 06, 2013, 11:05 am // Dick ConoboyYou are not likely to escape the coming transfer of $billions from your pocket to the health insurance industry. You will get little, if anything, in return.
4 comments; last on Apr 05, 2013
Sun, Mar 03, 2013, 5:17 pm // Dick ConoboyDo we need to recreate the sounds and sights of the battlefield when doing so brings pain and suffering to our combat veterans?
Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 7:54 pm // Dick ConoboyThere is a private sector development proposal to house approximately 600 students in the Puget Neighborhood on 11 acres to the east of Nevada St.
5 comments; last on Feb 27, 2013
Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 2:24 pm // Dick ConoboyWashington voters have wisely turned down three attempts to create charter schools in this state. They should replicate these defeats in 2012.
1 comments; last on Oct 23, 2012
Thu, May 24, 2012, 9:22 am // Dick ConoboyA case for eliminating consumer fireworks in Bellingham city limits
3 comments; last on May 26, 2012
Sat, Apr 07, 2012, 2:05 pm // Dick ConoboyThe issue is not sprawl or infill, but the money to be made by the type of infill and its placement
7 comments; last on Apr 09, 2012
Sun, Mar 11, 2012, 11:20 am // Dick ConoboyThe City Council outlines their agenda for the coming year
2 comments; last on Mar 12, 2012
Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 11:43 am // Dick ConoboyThe Padden Trails rezone effort is a misuse of the Infill Tool Kit on the outskirts of Bellingham.
8 comments; last on Nov 16, 2011
Wed, Nov 02, 2011, 4:00 pm // Dick ConoboyOccupy Bellingham is already creating jobs for the 99% - but this raises some interesting questions.
8 comments; last on Nov 04, 2011
Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 9:32 pm // Dick ConoboyUpdates on Rental Licensing in Bellingham
15 comments; last on Jun 25, 2011
Mon, Jan 17, 2011, 5:22 pm // Dick ConoboyWhy a ban on fireworks in Bellingham is needed, and a look at the politics of the issue.
31 comments; last on Jan 25, 2011
Election InfoCandidate Filings
Coal, Oil & TrainsCommunity Wise Bellingham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut Community Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Police Activity
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph