Keep Our Data Local!

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IoT graphic - data out of cityMay 20, 2016, Jackson Hts., New York – Connecting.nyc Inc.’s founding director Thomas Lowenhaupt is to make a  presentation on June 8 at NYC Media Lab’s IoT Media Mash. Having seen the city play catch-up with domain names – it took 30 years for the city to get .nyc, its own TLD – he’s wondering if there’s a way Internet of Things data could be localized, and used to benefit city agencies, neighborhoods, start-ups…

Current models have IoT data flowing out of our homes, businesses, and neighborhoods to the (potential) benefit of device manufacturers and third parties such as advertisers and data brokers the chief beneficiaries of the flow. Under this model there’s little macro scale benefit for local entities.

Thomas wonders, “Must we surrender control of this data, or is there a way to keep a copy local, perhaps in a city big data cache of some sort, to be shared and developed with neighborhoods and other local interests in mind?”

Thomas’s presentation will urge the start of a “New York City Opt-in Program” that would encourage residents to share/donate their IoT data, perhaps identified by a “NYC IoT Opt-In” logo on city-friendly devices.

Localization supporters are only now gathering thoughts on specific IoT data sources which might fruitfully contributing data; and exploring for architectures that could facilitate its being copied and shared locally. Early ideas on collecting heterogeneous data from multiple contexts/devices/technologies/vendors/etc. are looking at the Hub of All Things and The Things Network as a promising points.

The value inequity of one-way flow of IoT data is characteristic of the information age, a digital equivalent to trickle-down tax policies. But at this early stage we might still have the opportunity to advocate for a city-friendly architecture that keeps it local. Looking at the June 8 event and beyond (the IoT Media Mash is still soliciting speakers), we’re soliciting ideas on how this development might take place. Luckily, in New York City we’re blessed with lots of local expertise, Beta-NY and other civic friendly entities. Let’s keep it local!

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Big Data for a Big City

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big dataJackson Hts., New York, September 9, 2014 – Big Data smells Orwellian. And we might come to hate it some day. But today it’s everywhere. Sensing power and profits corporations and governments corralled the smartest graduates to figure out ways to extract value from the data ocean that’s become available through cheap technology and social media.

With .nyc’s activation another big data layer is becoming available from 2 data logs created by user searches. One is a Data Query Log that records successful searches of the .nyc TLD. Perhaps more interesting is the Error Log, which records unsuccessful inquiries. With an increasingly intuitive web, we can expect more people to take a risk and directly type-in desired domain names, rather than relying on Google search for their every need. Type-ins not reaching an existing website will end up in the Error Log. We’ve provided some thoughts on possible uses of the DNS search data, e.g., imagine creating a “City Pulse” comprised of 311, tweet, and the DNS Data Logs. We’ve elaborated on these prospects on our DNS Data Query Log wiki page.

One traditional problem with releasing this type of data relates to data mining, called front running in the domain name industry. Some see an unfair advantage arising from someone searching the Error Log for insights into domain names worth purchasing. Indeed, some might make a career of watching the error logs and registering names. But with an effective nexus policy, we look forward to the local jobs created by a frontrunner marketplace.

The city has yet to decide on a policy for releasing this data. We’ve advocated for its release within a framework of data privacy standards and clear and effective controls. (Commons image courtesy of Thierry Gregorius.)

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