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Is Big Data a Threat to Your Privacy?

Is Big Data a Threat to Your Privacy?

12/02/2013 12:32 am0 comments

Big Data is growing bigger every day and along with it the concern over invasion of privacy is also growing. Tracking all the data generated by your mobile and other devices and your interactions on social media, is beneficial for advertisers to tailor their ads to suit you. But there’s more to the story than that. Companies have now begun to come up with very creative ways to use real time data.

Let’s look at some interesting examples.

Smart Rubbish Bins in London

An advertising firm in London came up with the idea to use strategically placed dustbins to track the wifi signal of phones of the people passing by. They could use the serial number of the phones to track the movement of every individual. They could then use this data to show advertisements on the screen of these bins, that are targeted at the person passing by.

smartbins

Now even dustbins are becoming smart!

The officials have asked Renew, the responsible ad firm, to take down the smart dustbins as there has been a lot of concern about the invasion of privacy of the people.

Police Cars in Australia get Number Plate Recognition Cameras

The Aussies have come up with another great use of Big Data by using number plate recognition cameras that can read multiple number plates simultaneously and also search their database to find out all the information about that driver. They can tell if a car is stolen or if you have unpaid parking tickets just by looking at your car’s number plate.

police car

The hand of the law gets longer.

Are Such Examples a Threat to Your Privacy?

When CCTV cameras first came on the scene, the public responded to them with an outrage similar to what we see now in terms of Big Data. But once people got used to the new technology and saw the benefits in solving crimes and catching miscreants swiftly, the fears of Big Brother always watching them subsided.

The truth is that people will allow collection of any data as long as it is collected with their permission and it is used to create value for them. Instead of shoving ads in people’s faces, companies should try to find other ways to use Big Data, not only to reduce costs for the company but also to provide quality to the customer.

One great example to highlight the creative use of Big Data is the potential for insurance companies. Today all natural or man made calamities generate a lot of data in the social media.

data

Data about Hurricane Sandy

Insurance companies can use this data along with before and after images on Google Maps Street View, Flickr, Instagram etc. to find out how much destruction of property their clients have suffered.

torn houseThey can estimate the number and amount of claims that they will have to deal with. They can provide quick claim settlements to their customers which will be appreciated by all and people will readily agree to data collection if they are told of such rewards.

Great Opportunities

A Westpac survey showed that it only took 30 months for mobile usage to reach 1 Million as compared to 80 months it took for online usage to reach the 1 Million mark.

graphThis means that there are great opportunities available to use this rapidly growing Big Data but it will have to be done with care and while keeping the interests of the consumer in mind.

Freelance writer / Blogger / Author / Musician / Ex-Marine Engineer

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