Worried about companies selling your data to advertisers? Being a guinea pig for social research? Having your shopping data sold to hospitals? Well, that’s so last week. This week, data trading is the new currency.
Forbes describes how Rio de Janeiro’s Department of Transport is watching aggregated data feeds from smartphones being driven and walked around Rio thanks to popular apps Waze and Moovit. They are also talking to cycling app Strava to start tracking cyclists as well. Their goal is to use this data to better control and route traffic in and around Rio. In return, the apps receive information from the city’s data collectors such as sensors and traffic cameras. Waze plans to integrate this information into the service they then provide their users.
There is a lot to like about this use of users’ location information. The “greater good” is achieved by aggregating individual user data to provide a better experience for everyone. Imagine using such technology after special events to help traffic cops route traffic in a smarter way, coordinated across all intersections and all neighboring streets. Last week, after Mountain View’s 4th of July’s Fireworks it took some guests over 2 hours to travel the mile and a half to the freeway. Mountain View’s police stated that over 25 thousand people attended the event and it seemed that the traffic cops were using walkie-talkies to communicate traffic issues. A coordinated, central response could have helped everyone get out of Shoreline faster. This is what Rio is trying to do around the World Cup games being held in the city and it makes sense.
I’m not sure about any of the answers to the above questions but I look forward to see how app developers, social networks, and tech companies deal with these issues in the near future.