When Government Joins the Internet of Things

What happens when public infrastructure becomes part of the “Internet of Things?” In an opinion piece in the New York Times today, former Chicago Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein explores the policy and privacy implications of smart cities:

We all interact daily with public infrastructure — roads, parks, mass transit, water supplies. Increasingly, this infrastructure contains sensors that collect and use data on our interactions with it. As the “Internet of things” evolves, the data held by public entities is a critical component of its architecture.

This data can be used to aid better decision-making and set smarter policies, says Goldstein, citing examples such as SFPark in San Francisco and variable speed limits on the London Orbital motorway. At the same time, it raises issues about how to balance privacy, efficiency, and transparency:

As we use technology and data to develop these systems and models of the future, we must be cautious to avoid the “creepy factor.” A clear and proven way to do this is through open and standards-based releases of data. We are seeing more and more administrations passing laws or orders to mandate the publishing of certain data—from Philadelphia to Chicago. A path in which the expansion of these networks walks hand in hand with transparency is one on which we can advance, with accountability.

Goldstein and other expert practitioners discuss the issues surrounding release of open government data — and its implications for the future of our public institutions — in the forthcoming anthology “Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation” (a collaboration between Goldstein and Code for America). The book will be released in mid-October. Find out more here.

Read the full article on NYTimes.com.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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