Using the Internet of Things to Track Individuals' Ecological Footprint
It was not until this class that I realized how connected our digital worlds are. With so many of our commonplace devices being immediately connected to the Internet, our most intimate activities and privacies are becoming increasingly informed by data.
These vast amounts of tremendously personal data are alarming, in nature, and may cause some concern among citizens and corporations alike. This is evidenced by Apple's most recent squabble with the U.S. government. Conversely, however, access to these data is of particular interest to advertisers, and could be useful to other media professionals, specifically journalists.
With devices such as FitBit tracking users' health and physical activity, apps monitoring individuals' banking and spending information, and mobile instruments with capacities to monitor anything from vehicles to refrigerators, the aggregation and integration of the data collected from these tools could produce interesting content for journalists.
One thing that I thought might be interesting was to aggregate the data between several apps that Dr. Walsh showed us (I cannot remember the names) that measure one’s gas consumption when driving, home heat/AC usage, and water consumption to get insanely accurate pictures of a person’s ecological footprint. Most stories that I have seen attempt to do something like this have focused only on the ecological footprint of individual households. Having access this type of data would allow a journalist to write compelling stories about single persons as units of analysis. This data could also be cross-referenced with an individual’s fitness activity, dietary habits and purchases (Smart Fridge), as well as general census data to create broad-scale pictures of how environmental concerns are closely connected to factors such as race, gender, income, etc.
I think this type of journalism project would also provide a more human element to the current discourse on the environment in ways that focus on more than just geographical and climate change.