If you don’t visit any websites today, take the time and visit this one: We Are Data and prepared to be amazed (and totally creeped out)!
According to Ubisoft’s website, in the video game “Watch_Dogs”, Chicago is a smart city where data is used to solve all sorts of complex city problems. To show the amount of real data that is actually available now, they made a big brotherish type website where you can view data from three major cities, in real time. The data is then placed in it’s location on an interactive map.
“Watch_Dogs WeareData gathers available geolocated data in a non-exhaustive way: we only display the information for which we have been given the authorization by the sources. Yet, it is already a huge amount of data. You may even watch what other users are looking at on the website through Facebook connect.“
You first select a city, then you can select on a blue diamond that gives an exact location in the city. You are then zoomed into an overhead map where you can see traffic lights, ATMs, mobile network locations, etc. Kind of cool, but the creepy factor jumps up as you also see live tweets and other social media information. You can click on the social media icons and see actual posts from people in that area!
This really makes you think, if a video game company can pull this off, what can other organizations do that have different agendas? Imagine an interactive map that provides actual cell phone user data. Or if clicking on the CCTV video icons actually showed you the video from the location.
Sound far fetched?
It really isn’t. What if an interactive map pulled in live cell user data, say from one of those fake cell towers (or from planes) you hear about? Open or easily hacked webcams and CCTV video camera interfaces could be added – ever hear of Shodan? Heck, vulnerable routers or again easily hacked ones could also be made available.
Sadly as a high-tech society, we share way to much information electronically. We also give up a lot of electronic security in the name of convenience. In doing so, we have made big brother type scenarios an actual possibility!
The best thing we can do is make sure our devices are secured and encrypted. Turn off any Geo-Location information, and set privacy features when using social media. Never leave network devices set to the default credentials. And finally, never trust public Wi-Fi!