Tracking Coloradans to 10 feet - $1.6 million payday for Polis friends

Article author: 
David Migoya
Article publisher: 
Denver Gazette
Article date: 
26 November 2021
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 
Colorado paid more than $630,000 last year to a group of personal and business associates of Gov. Jared Polis that had ostensibly volunteered to help the state manage its way through the COVID-19 pandemic by tracking people’s movements, records show.
Then, when that group’s work was done in late 2020, the state began paying another $1 million in a deal it gave to a startup company created by two people tied to the first group’s work.
Neither of the contracts was publicly bid, but rather were the result of an executive order Polis issued in April 2020 declaring a disaster emergency that suspended state laws requiring bids on purchases relating to the pandemic, no matter the size of the contract....
When Citizen Software Engineers’ cellphone-tracking work became public — it was largely using the information to check whether Coloradans were social distancing at the outset of the pandemic...
The items the state has paid CSE for included aggregate data from a handful of companies that cull information from cellphones. The data comes from a variety of cellphone applications that often ask a user to allow it to track their location. Marketing companies purchase the information and bundle it for resale.
CSE initially used the data to track Coloradans to see whether they were complying with state orders to shelter in place or social distance. The information can track someone to within 10 feet of their position. How else it was used has not been revealed and creators of the company have refused to discuss it....
And CSE was already paying two people — David Jacobson and Parker Jackson — more than $12,000 a month each to analyze the data, records show.
That included tracking people’s visits to bars and liquor stores as well as out-of-staters visiting Colorado, records show....
That includes survey data from Facebook about mask use, vaccine data, as well as weather and humidity data to distinguish any discernable patterns about virus transmission....