What’s the Value of Personal Data?

Hacktivists advocate power of public and personal data at nationwide civic hacking event.

Amid growing concerns about how corporations and government use people’s data, nearly 10,000 “hackivists” are gathering this weekend in an attempt to put the power of data in the hands of individuals. If these self-proclaimed civic hackers succeed, people will begin to see their personal data as invaluable to decision making and daily life, not just as a way for advertisers to target them.

National Day of Civic Hacking Logo - event promotes value of public and personal data

The National Day of Civic Hacking event is backed by the White House and organized by Hack for Change with local coordination at 95 different spots in cities across the country. The high-minded goal is to democratize access to data and build understanding of how public and personal data can be combined to solve everyday problems such as finding childcare or eldercare, education, transportation services and disaster recovery.

“Five or 500 apps might come out from this national event, and any one of them could be worth taking to the next level as a product or service,” said Jonathan Reichental, CIO of the city of Palo Alto, Calif. “But the broader impact is the conversation individuals will be having when they see the power of combining the data they have and public data already available to a create a greater social good.”

For the National Day of Civic Hacking, Reichental is working with Facebook, Google, HP and other Silicon Valley companies to put on a street fair. “My goals are to create a family event that aligns city residents with the civic hacking movement and to connect civic problems with civic solvers,” he said.

At the event, which Reichental describes as hackerspace meets Maker Faire with help from TechShop, hackers will work on sustainability, response and recovery from terrorist attacks or natural disasters, and connecting residents with city services.

Hailey Pate, an EMS data program analyst at California Emergency Medical Services Authority, is helping organize a local event in Sacramento. She said the event will be distinct to California’s state capital with its friendly, unassuming vibe but serious “wow factor” skills from local hackers.

We’ve got some really interesting data sets available in our new open data portal on topics like education and environmental health indicators,” said Pate.

Hackers Huddle on Project

From Big Data to Little Data

The big challenge that organizers of the National Day of Civic Hacking confront is how to use existing data and community resources to empower people locally to address their needs, according to Brandon Barnett of Intel Labs. Intel is a lead sponsor of the event. Rather than just consume information, he wants to see more people use their data to produce real value in their lives and the lives of others.

“Rather than focus on big data sets, we’re interested in putting the focus on individuals and communities engaging and using their data,” he said. “Local events should be asking, ‘How can people use their own data in combination with publically available data?’ and ‘What do we need to address that’s unique to our city or community?’ That’s what these events are about.”

People leave a trail of personal data in their wake every day. Location information from smartphones, Facebook likes and shares, Google searches and purchasing behavior from loyalty cards could become useful to people with the right tools and know-how.

Much of this personal data has remained unseen and inaccessible to individuals, but that is changing. According to Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, a U.K.-based tech and business analysis firm, more people will get to see and use personal data, or what he calls “little data,” as more companies like Tesco, the British grocery store chain, share collected data with customers. Commenting an Ovum report issued earlier this year, Little said, “Prepare for changes where consumers start to want more of a relationship with their own data and the people who are collecting it.”

Barnett thinks that when people can get a hold of it, many will see their personal data as an asset. “We’re at one of these junctures where companies can continue to make money using people’s data when that helps them to better serve people,” he said.

People are already benefiting from creating personal data through the so-called quantified-self movement, where people record exercise routines, diet, moods, sleep patterns to help improve their own health. In many cases, people are actually sharing their collection of personal data to help others who share similar goals or challenges, according to Barnett.

National Day of Civic Hacking organizers hope that it will be an early step toward changing the relationship most people have with data.

“The scale and scope of this national event allows us to assess what can be done to move things forward and how to catalyze or start movements around people who are improving their lives by using their data,” said Barnett. “This movement will shape the next wave of policy.”

What’s the Value of Personal Data?

Hacktivists advocate power of public and personal data at nationwide civic hacking event.

Amid growing concerns about how corporations and government use people’s data, nearly 10,000 “hackivists” are gathering this weekend in an attempt to put the power of data in the hands of individuals. If these self-proclaimed civic hackers succeed, people will begin to see their personal data as invaluable to decision making and daily life, not just as a way for advertisers to target them.

National Day of Civic Hacking Logo - event promotes value of public and personal data

The National Day of Civic Hacking event is backed by the White House and organized by Hack for Change with local coordination at 95 different spots in cities across the country. The high-minded goal is to democratize access to data and build understanding of how public and personal data can be combined to solve everyday problems such as finding childcare or eldercare, education, transportation services and disaster recovery.

“Five or 500 apps might come out from this national event, and any one of them could be worth taking to the next level as a product or service,” said Jonathan Reichental, CIO of the city of Palo Alto, Calif. “But the broader impact is the conversation individuals will be having when they see the power of combining the data they have and public data already available to a create a greater social good.”

For the National Day of Civic Hacking, Reichental is working with Facebook, Google, HP and other Silicon Valley companies to put on a street fair. “My goals are to create a family event that aligns city residents with the civic hacking movement and to connect civic problems with civic solvers,” he said.

At the event, which Reichental describes as hackerspace meets Maker Faire with help from TechShop, hackers will work on sustainability, response and recovery from terrorist attacks or natural disasters, and connecting residents with city services.

Hailey Pate, an EMS data program analyst at California Emergency Medical Services Authority, is helping organize a local event in Sacramento. She said the event will be distinct to California’s state capital with its friendly, unassuming vibe but serious “wow factor” skills from local hackers.

We’ve got some really interesting data sets available in our new open data portal on topics like education and environmental health indicators,” said Pate.

Hackers Huddle on Project

From Big Data to Little Data

The big challenge that organizers of the National Day of Civic Hacking confront is how to use existing data and community resources to empower people locally to address their needs, according to Brandon Barnett of Intel Labs. Intel is a lead sponsor of the event. Rather than just consume information, he wants to see more people use their data to produce real value in their lives and the lives of others.

“Rather than focus on big data sets, we’re interested in putting the focus on individuals and communities engaging and using their data,” he said. “Local events should be asking, ‘How can people use their own data in combination with publically available data?’ and ‘What do we need to address that’s unique to our city or community?’ That’s what these events are about.”

People leave a trail of personal data in their wake every day. Location information from smartphones, Facebook likes and shares, Google searches and purchasing behavior from loyalty cards could become useful to people with the right tools and know-how.

Much of this personal data has remained unseen and inaccessible to individuals, but that is changing. According to Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, a U.K.-based tech and business analysis firm, more people will get to see and use personal data, or what he calls “little data,” as more companies like Tesco, the British grocery store chain, share collected data with customers. Commenting an Ovum report issued earlier this year, Little said, “Prepare for changes where consumers start to want more of a relationship with their own data and the people who are collecting it.”

Barnett thinks that when people can get a hold of it, many will see their personal data as an asset. “We’re at one of these junctures where companies can continue to make money using people’s data when that helps them to better serve people,” he said.

People are already benefiting from creating personal data through the so-called quantified-self movement, where people record exercise routines, diet, moods, sleep patterns to help improve their own health. In many cases, people are actually sharing their collection of personal data to help others who share similar goals or challenges, according to Barnett.

National Day of Civic Hacking organizers hope that it will be an early step toward changing the relationship most people have with data.

“The scale and scope of this national event allows us to assess what can be done to move things forward and how to catalyze or start movements around people who are improving their lives by using their data,” said Barnett. “This movement will shape the next wave of policy.”