Submitted by Larry Bellehumeur on
With the introduction of the Patriot Act in the US, there is increased concern about "Big brother", which usually refers to the government knowing a little too much about how people live their lives. For the most part, it is likely that most honest people will only gain from many of these things, but it doesn't mean that most people aren't justified in feeling like they are being watched a little too closely.
M2M solutions are finding their way into everyday life, and for the most part, they are offering everyday people a better quality of life. M2M solutions are reducing the length of power outages (or preventing them in the first place), ensuring that vital services such as first responders are able to do their job with the correct information and alerting drivers of issues with their vehicles before they break down at the side of the road. They are also improving customer service and making products safer, which benefits all of us. However, since they are gathering so much more usage information from our lives, one does need to wonder.....are we being watched too much?
Here are a few random thoughts on this:
Big Data is not limited to M2M
As I wrote in a previous election-themed blog post, Big Data (which refers to the industry of both collecting data from many sources and being able to manipulate/present it in a manner that allows for better decisions to be made) played a huge role in the 2012 US Presidential election. Both Republicans and Democrats used the enormous amounts of data from their sources to identify their solid base of supporters, fringe supporters and swing voters. Once they had this data, they knew based on your various inputs (such as where you ate, what entertainment events you attended and where you went to school) how likely you were to vote for their party. M2M played only a moderate role in this area, as most of the data generated was not from remote machines, but rather from social media and web-based traffic (such as what web page you were viewing before you went to their page and what page you went to after).
Retailers use M2M/Big Data as well as
While I enjoyed the movie "The Minority Report", I have to admit that I was more than a little freaked out by the scene where Tom Cruise is recognized by a Digital sign by name. The scariest part is that (to a certain extent) this technology is being heavily used today by many forward-thinking retailers. Digital signs are able to identify people based on approximate age, gender and ethnicity and able to follow eye movement. It uses this data to determine which areas of the display are more of focus for different targeted markets.
As well, similar technology is used to follow shoppers around the store to gather information based on shopping patterns for different targeted markets. I got a kick out of the picture below which outlines how many married couples shop for a simple items such as jeans.....this is actually pretty accurate to how my wife and I shop!
Finally, a lot of consumers don't realize the incredible amount of information that is gathered about you when you use many of the retailers loyalty programs, especially supermarkets. Since they know where you live (so they can gather your approximate income) and know what gender you are, they are able to see trends in shoppers and find ways to better target their core audience. Again, the idea is to better serve you, the customer, but there is still a slight "creepiness" factor going on to note that someone is watching how many rolls of toilet paper you buy for your home.
M2M Security is a priority
Knowing that there is a lot of data out there about our everyday lives, it is imperative on the M2M industry to ensure that we do a great job in protecting not only all of the data that comes from remote machines but also a great job in protecting access to these machines. The industry is moving in the right direction through the introduction of advanced security technologies such as Private IP tunnels, advanced security encryption and strong access control lists to remote devices.
So....is the Big Brother concern overblown?
I think whenever you are passing along as much information about our day to day lives, there is a reason for people to have some expectations, such as a restriction in who is allowed access to private information. Since most of the information is gathered based on your "characteristics" (income level, gender, age), your own private information is not usually shared. As well, M2M will improve our lives, make us safer, make our industries more competitive and will in many cases, save lives. I believe that if it is deployed correctly, the positive impact of M2M will well outweigh any concerns. This does not mean that as an industry, we don't have to do an increasingly better job in protecting the data that we gather.
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection. You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com. As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).