Privacy, policy and mobility in big data

Dec 13, 2018 | Blog, Technology | 0 comments

What is your privacy worth to you?

Do you read the privacy agreements before using your new device or that new app that helps with your productivity?

Does it bother you that you are being tracked? The maps app that is telling you about the traffic jam down the road, can do that because it is processing the data from all the people, just like you and me, that click “I agree” without a second thought.

We want to use that device. We are convinced that productivity app will shave seconds, if not minutes, off our day.

Smart South Island

There is an initiative in the Capital Region called “Smart South Island.” It is led by the South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP). The competition is for a $10 million prize from the federal government.

It is called the “Smart Cities Challenge” and the goal is to bring innovative ideas, that are scalable across the country, into the open.

The local proposal is now in phase two of the challenge, and is about creating more efficient, multi-mode mobility, in large part by collecting and parsing our data.

What we have seen with ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, and other services like U-Bicycle and Bird scooters, is that the tech is far ahead of public policy makers.

We learned at a roundtable hosted by SIPP that public policy makers (politicians) in many of the early markets flooded by these disruptive services, are now scrambling. The tech companies strictly protect their proprietary data, constituents/customers need the services, and the emerging privacy issues overwhelm public policy makers.

Its not just where your kids go school and what time you drop them off. Or, what route they take when they walk home. It goes much deeper. Rather than going through them all here, let your imagination run wild.

So, many of the industry leaders at the roundtable were excited about Victoria.

In many respects, it is a new marketplace for them to disrupt. But, we are in the unique situation to learn from other jurisdictions. For ride-hailing, we have the benefit of regulations that protect the consumer.

With respect to the bikes and scooters, and all the other ideas that people invest in, we have exposure.

It’s a big-data battle over who controls it, and what they can do with it.

Regulation is in your interest

So, the arguments about letting the free market loose in a de-regulated utopia need to be challenged. What are the consequences of letting tech freely disrupt?

Can we create an environment where new business models can challenge old ones, and where innovation can disrupt the status quo and competing interests are balanced?

The entrepreneur. The investor. The consumer. The constituent. And, the policy-maker.

Regulations, have a bad name. But, they are the tool we use to balance the interests. They reflect you, whoever you are, and from whatever perspective you come from.

So, the most important thing is not to get rid of as many regulations as we can. It is to do a really sound job when we create them.

Clearly, from the roundtable there are really good people who are working to develop systems to protect our privacy and our data.

SIPP can be a leader in developing those balanced relationships locally.

Into the future…

There is no doubt that we can benefit from all the billions of data points collected everyday. And, with the right dataset, we can predict the best route to work this morning.

But, how do we do that and not expose everyone to lurking predators creating new unwanted disruptions in our lives?

So, here are my thoughts. What do you think?

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