Improving the presentation of one of the strangest Minnesota state government document batches we've ever run across, PIM staff has released a more complete version of the massive MnDOT doc dump about the rather mysterious plan hatched by the North American Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO) to implement a military-style RFID-powered shipping container tracking system on Interstates 35 and 94. We first reported this last July, and provided additional documents obtained by lawyer Nathan Hansen in December.
Now you can get the 598 pages in one PDF file, (a more svelte 43 MB) and we used optical character recognition to make it fully searchable. The rest of the media has still overlooked this strange story about yet another federal boondoggle; in this case, it's been proposed by NASCO's backers at Lockheed Martin, which would collect revenue from building the system, and mine the data it would generate.
To recap: they want to set up monitoring centers dubbed "Total Transportation Domain Awareness Centers of Excellence," which appear to be 'data fusion' centers that would likely turn perpetual profits for contractors supporting the facilities. A system called NAFTRACS, which is based on the military's existing shipping container tracking system, would primarily use RFID tag-based tracking stations to keep an eye on shipping containers, and feed this information into a 'data warehouse' system, which in turn would support some type of supply-chain management system.
[Sidebar: the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" bill also promotes other "centers of excellence" data fusion centers that would monitor America, so apparently this sort of Big Brother proposal is all the rage in Washington.]
Interestingly, the NASCO plan specifies that their NAFTRACS system would generate shipping container supply-chain data that Lockheed's business unit in Eagan would market as a business product. It appears that NASCO's plan has now become illegal under state law, because this year's (vetoed and overridden) transportation finance bill specifically banned privatizing the management of Minnesota's highways:
A road authority may not sell, lease, execute a development agreement for a BOTNo one at the Legislature seems to know about this: is anyone going to check out what the heck is going on? Stay tuned...
facility or BTO facility that transfers an existing highway lane, or otherwise relinquish management of a highway...