Is Smart Data next?


Everything is becoming ‘smart’ these days.  While we personally don’t have any of these über smart devices in our home, you can buy Smart Appliances today at a premium price – from refrigerators to toasters to washers and dryers, to digital peep holes, digital sprinklers etc.  We knew this was coming, but are we really prepared for The Internet of Things and the big data explosion that will come from it?  We have 6 WiFi Access Points in our home; probably a bit excessive, but I have over 30 devices that are already WiFi enabled (Belkin Wemo switches, smart phones, DVD players, home security sensors, surveillance cameras, tablets, printers etc.).  I have a 50MB Comcast Xfinity pipe to the Internet, so bandwidth is plentiful, but clearly it won’t be for long.

As the cost of sensors go down, when battery life increases to last a few years and processors come down significantly in power consumption and price, everything we know today as static objects will become connected, bandwidth-hogging devices on your network.

Our home networks will start to feel like our corporate networks today or an over-crowded coffee shop on a single DSL connection, where  you’ll be wrestling with every other device to get out to the internet.  Sure, you can throw more access points and bandwidth at it, but it will never be enough.  This is something we will have to deal with.

However, while there may be some intrinsic value in having a toaster that talks to you via your smart phone (or let’s face it, your iWatch or Google Glass), the underlying issue that continues to grow is security and privacy.  Every day, we seem to be putting a lot more data onto devices, or worse yet, social sites – both internal and external.  Based on my previous post, this digital breadcrumb trail is going to get worse over time, and since most people don’t want to ‘manage’ their security, pay for a credit monitoring service etc. we will continue to see people getting hacked, identities stolen etc.  Sure, hackers will always find a way around it, but my theory is that you should at least try to do something preventative.  Just renewing your anti-virus subscription isn’t enough anymore.  That was SO a decade ago. 🙂

We must develop a new way to classify and protect data.  We definitely need this from both a consumer and business perspective, given that the lines have already been blurred with Consumerization. Enter the world of Smart Data, where data knows where it is, is aware of how many clones and versions of itself exist, knows to self-destruct in 30 days, or only can be viewed on protected devices, notebooks etc.  Imagine every piece of data with a virtual tag or sensor that allows it to be classified.  Will file sizes get larger?  Sure.  But the cost of doing nothing will be much larger for us as this spins out of control.

We’ve seen some of this data tagging before; it’s been a part of Microsoft’s Office stack for a while (called Rights Management) and in DRM (Digital Rights Management), but in today’s world, where you are consuming data on a number of heterogeneous devices and private/public cloud repositories, this ancient method of tagging and securing content is defunct almost instantly.

This becomes even more important as we (as consumers) try to repel the dark side of Big Data. We need controls to be able to control privacy not just on social media sites, but also on data that is being collected on our mobile devices, toasters, washing machines etc. There aren’t many standards today, and we’re just itching for a new protocol, methodology and an integrated platform.  We need an independent, consumer-oriented body of people who can work with the IETF and other standards bodies to develop this and it needs to happen quickly.

In some senses, this is a big mountain to climb, so my guess is that the only way this will actually happen is if the government steps up and explores the concept of Smart Data. But before that happens, someone is going to have to take the fall, and all you can do for now is try your best to make sure it’s not you.  🙂

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