The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how personal data is being mistreated. But used responsibly, this information could be hugely beneficial for developing our cities, says Eleanor Jolliffe.
by Eleanor Jolliffe
For years we have unwittingly been giving away reams of personal data to private companies without considering the broader consequences. Facebook‘s Cambridge Analytica scandal, fake news, and various global elections in recent years have begun to wake the world up to the uncomfortable reality that this data may be being used to influence our opinions and tastes for commercial and political gain.
Collection and use of personal data is an ethical minefield that has not always been well navigated, but used responsibly this data could be a vital tool in designing and running our cities more effectively.
One of the most fascinating of the few public releases of spatially aggregated personal data is Strava’s heat map, a glowing testament to the planet’s legions of amateur and professional athletes. Routes around the world heat up as they are followed by app users with the most popular routes showing white hot.
While the map has been controversial for accidentally uncovering the layout of secret military bases, it is a potentially invaluable tool in the urban planner’s or masterplanner’s arsenal – giving a unique insight into the use of pedestrian routes around the world. The data is limited to users of the app but, even with this allowed for, it provides a fascinating snapshot of the world through the eyes of its physically active citizens.
Used responsibly this data could be a vital tool in designing and running our cities more effectively
Perhaps more immediately impactful – if perhaps more controversial – is Cape Town’s water map. Over the summer of 2017/18, Cape Town underwent a severe drought during which its main reservoir fell below 11 per cent of its capacity. A daily water restriction was put in place to prevent the city running out of water before the wet season arrived.
Day zero, when the city would have switched off residential supplies and installed stand pipes in the streets, was narrowly averted, and now the winter rains are replenishing reservoirs. Water usage restrictions remain in place however and the city believes it will take four years of winter rains to fully replenish water levels.
Read the full story HERE >>>> Source: Dezeen “Personal data could be a vital tool in designing our cities”