Smart-CitiesCities around the world are eagerly looking to the Internet of Things and the increasingly connected world as a way to improve infrastructure efficiencies, save money, and help citizens lead more convenient, productive lives. However, there is one aspect of the “smart city” promise that has the potential to become a serious issue. As mentioned in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “A byproduct of a tech utopia will be a prodigious amount of data collected on the inhabitants.”

Municipalities using connected devices to monitor traffic patterns and the use of resources are essentially capturing data about an individual’s movement throughout the day. The data can be then be used to glean information about habits and behaviors such as where a person is during certain times and the activities in which they are participating —data that is incredibly valuable to businesses seeking targeted, more effective ways to market products and services. Selling this data to companies could be a significant source of additional revenue for cities.

It’s a prospect that holds a positive promise for consumers too. Imagine receiving only relevant ads at the exact time and place you are looking for a product or service. You could receive a coupon for your favorite restaurant just as you are passing by the location on your way home from work, for instance.

Yet, whenever the discussion turns to the topic of selling data, it brings up important questions and concerns around data security and privacy. These questions aren’t easy to answer and many challenges. Who owns the data? Where can the data be used? Who will control or regulate data usage? Where is the line between an invasion of privacy and relevant, helpful offers and services from a brand? Who gets to draw that line?

The only way city governments and businesses can answer these questions is to include residents in the conversation. People need to have a say in how their data is used, what is okay to share or sell, and how they want brands to communicate with them. The technology is available to capture this information, and more importantly, to enforce these privacy choices consistently at every interaction point, no matter who is using the data.

Some of today’s customer identity and preference management solutions make it possible for cities to store attribute data, such as travel patterns and the use of municipal facilities, as part of an individual’s identity profile. They offer an interface where people can share their preferences and privacy choices with the city. Then these solutions sync data between different apps and devices in real-time so a resident’s data use criteria is immediately available no matter where the data is accessed. If the data is sold, the residents’ preferences follow their identity profile, and the purchaser can adhere to their choices.

By implementing the right customer identity and preference management platform along with connectivity technologies, city governments and businesses will be able to maintain constituent and customer trust as they collect and use data. The result will be less risk of privacy violation lawsuits and loss of consumer affinity. Cities can expand the positive aspects of a connected community, and businesses can strengthen brand loyalty by offering truly personalized, meaningful interactions.

UPCOMING WEBINAR: Consumer Identity & Access Management Market Overview
Date:  Thursday August 6, 2015
Time:  10am PT/ 1pm ET 

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