A electronic sign board in Surrey was hacked.

City of Surrey’s trash sign hacked

Message changed on one electronic board in South Surrey

Someone managed to reprogram one of the electronic signs the City of Surrey has been using to inform residents about the recently revised trash collection schedule.

On Oct. 15, one of the signs located on 156 Street just north of 16 Avenue was saying “Smoke weed every day,” instead of “Monday is organics.”

Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy operations manager in the engineering department, thought it was a joke when he got the first call about the altered advisory.

Then someone emailed him a photo.

“Once we were informed, we contacted the entity we rented the signs from and they shut it down,” Costanzo said.

“In the 20 years, I’ve worked for the city, Ive never seen anything like it.”

During the two years of planning that preceded the switch to the new garbage collection system, city staff tried to consider every possible contingency.

But hackers?

“Absolutely, it wasn’t on the list,” Costanzo said.

Surrey is not the first city to discovered electronic sign boards can be messed with.

One week before the Surrey sign was changed, someone managed to reprogram a message board in Portland, Ore. being used to report roadwork and traffic delays to motorists so it read “Warning, Zombies Ahead!”

A Portland newspaper report said several other American cities have experienced the same sort of prank, noting the message machines are not hard to program, but their controls are usually locked and password protected.

In Surrey, as of last week, Costanzo was waiting for a report from the rental company to figure out how the local machine was compromised.

Other than the sign incident, the switchover is going well, Costanzo said.

“We’re 99 per cent there.”

But that is still not good enough, Costanzo added, because it means roughly 200 in the  20,000 homes in each collection area is not following the new schedule, either forgetting to put trash out on their collection day, or leaving out the wrong kind of trash.

“We’re not quite there.”

The way Surrey trash is collected was overhauled as part of a Metro Vancouver regional waste strategy that aims to raise the recycling rate.

More information is available at the city’s website, www.surrey.ca/rethinkwaste or by calling the waste collection hotline at 604-590-7289.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U-Haul truck hits hydro pole, causes power outage in Surrey

Vehicle driving westbound on Fraser Highway

UPDATE: All-cat fight at Surrey RCMP Classic final Saturday night

Guildford Park beats Semiahmoo, ending Totems’ three-year championship run

Cloverdale man turns old bed racer into chicken coop

Clayton Heights’ Aaron Grim says repurposed racer ‘easy to clean and easy to collect the eggs’

Truck fire in Surrey destroys generator bound for Uganda missions trip, GoFundMe started

Glen Alexander says his ‘Jesus is Lord’ vehicle has been target of vandalism before

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99 in South Surrey

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

VIDEO: Highway 1 left looking like winter war zone with dozens of stranded vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Most Read