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Sensors, Monitors & Big Data

The emergence of so many mobile technologies has created vast demands for data that keep tabs on people’s health, homes, movement, and more. We are increasingly reliant on internet-connected devices to organize our calendars, gauge the best route or mode for a trip, and track our calorie consumption, in addition to many other activities. Data collected through these methods tell a story about us and our behaviors; understanding how this data is used and for what purposes is an important issue.

Smartphones & Transportation

Smartphones offer a vast array of transportation information and services at the touch of a button, leading some people to believe that they are the most important transportation innovation of the decade. Apps like Google Maps offer the ability to compare routes with real-time traffic information to determine what path is the quickest to your destination, all while updating in real time. Apps available in the Twin Cities like OMG Transit, and RideScout offer the ability to compare transit service, taxi and ridesharing options, carsharing, bike, driving, and walking directions all from one screen to help travelers make informed decisions about their routes and modes. Many of these mobile apps rely on location-tracking to help determine potential routes and trips, leading to potential concerns about data privacy and storage.

Transportation System Data

Transportation stewards rely on data to ensure that transportation systems meet the needs of people who use them. Transportation agencies rely on roadway sensors to gauge environmental conditions for maintenance and research, and also track the number of vehicles who pass specific points on the roadway to better understand travel patterns. Emerging technologies can also use cell phone and smartphone signals to track travel patterns for cars, bikes, and walkers. This data, while useful, also raises significant privacy concerns regarding identifying information and safe storage.

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