Smokey and the Crowdsource Bandit

Burt Reynolds made a couple of good movies and several bad ones featuring fast cars, CB radios and a determined, but dim-witted, police pursuit. A 21st Century remake of Smokey and the Bandit or Cannonball Run would feature Escort Inc’s SmartCord-enabled radar detectors, which can pull in real time radar/lidar trap information from every similarly equipped car on the road and display it on a smartphone screen.

They call it “social networking for the road”. Sheriff Buford T. Justice might call it a nationwide scofflaw conspiracy.

The SmartCord connects one of four Escort radar detector models (plus one from a second manufacturer) to an iPhone or compatible Android device by way of an automobile power adaptor. Escort’s phone app takes radar and laser readings from the detector, adds GPS tags and transmits it via the Internet to Escort’s central server.

The raw data from the road is then assessed, false alarms are scrubbed out and it’s merged into a real time, color coded tactical map, which is then displayed on the phone’s screen. The icons and color codes tell every driver in the network what kind of speed traps have been spotted, and indicates whether or not it’s a fresh sighting.

Of course, it’s all meant to promote excessive speed safe driving. The app can be configured to warn a driver when he edges over the speed limit. Why else would NASCAR wannabes law-abiding drivers buy such a thing?

Escort says that there are 2 to 3 million drivers with SmartCord-capable detectors on the road already. All they need to join the conspiracy network is a SmartCord, iPhone or Droid and $40 a year. The cowboy hat and Sally Field are what it’s all about optional.