Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Big Data Divide

About a month ago I was at CeDEM, the Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government, in Krems, Austria. Several projects were focused on communication between local municipalities and the citizenry, with a focus on communication and knowledge sharing that could go either way (such as, a municipality learning what local citizens don't know, and getting that information to them). So a lot of it concerned data collection and analysis.

That should sound familiar, given recent events. I pointed out how there were two sectors that already had the three needed factors:

  1. Data collection capability,
  2. Data (have been collecting),
  3. Data analysis capability.
These two sectors are, of course, intelligence agencies for at least the US and perhaps Britain (and other governments on a smaller scale, most likely), as well as the information companies themselves (in this case I mean information conduit providers, like Google, AT&T, and Verizon, to name a few).

Sure we could pass laws forcing these two sectors to help out local governments provide better services (one eternal promise of not just the internet, but of the information future -- it's always a day away), but I doubt that will happen. That's rather sad, and falls short of the "of the people, by the people, for the people" ideal from US President Lincoln.