Data owners sometimes find opening up data a daunting prospect and worry about the  security and privacy implications. The key is to recognise that not all data needs to be protected. Opening up data that doesn’t need to be protected actually provides organisations with greater control. The resulting transparency improves engagement and creates opportunities.  The perimeter of data isn’t being destroyed, it is just moving.

This concept of moving the perimeter isn’t a new one. Colin Birchenall, Lead Technology Architect for Future City | Glasgow, tells us how.

Opening up Telecommunications

The telecommunications industry moved the perimeter of its service from the telephone to the master-socket (known as the “customer-premises equipment”) in the 1980s. It began to happen as a consequence of the break-up of the Bell Systems monopoly in the United States, and subsequently as consequence of the privatisation of the telecommunications industry globally (such as the privatisation of BT in 1984). This wasn’t easy; new technologies and new standards had to be developed and deployed globally.

The impact was significant: customers were given choice within a free market of telecommunication services and products. The telephony device stepped outside of the organisation’s perimeter. Telecommunications had become consumerised.

Opening up IT (“Bring Your Own Device”)

The information technology industry is currently undergoing a similar transition. It is gripped by demands from people who want to access IT at work through their own personal computers, tablets and smartphones. This trend is generally known as “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) or the “consumerisation of IT”. The term refers to the impact that people’s use and expectations of technology within their everyday lives is having on their expectation of IT in the workplace. In people’s everyday lives, choice and flexibility is king. People typically have a range of devices, can easily change them, personalise them, easily download apps, and delete them, and so on. In the workplace however, cost and reliability is king, and so standardisation has become the mantra.

People (particularly those who have grown up with technology) are beginning to demand the same level of flexibility they have at home when they are in the office. Increasingly, the standardisation of IT is perceived as a barrier to their effectiveness in the workplace.

To tackle this disparity, the IT industry is developing new technologies to deliver IT services to people’s own PC, smartphone and tablet devices. Gradually, security and IT departments – as well as organisations generally – are beginning to build up their awareness and trust of this model. Over time, the devices used by employees in the workplace will increasingly become personal devices. The device is beginning to step outside of organisation’s perimeter: IT is becoming consumerised.

Opening up Data

The Open Data Charter agreed by the G8 sets out principles that will move the perimeter of information itself. This is already underway in the USA open cities. It is also underway closer to home within the UK Government open data and Scottish Government. Open data is a global movement and will increase in pace. It will have a profound affect the whole of the public, academic and private sectors.

Of course, the perimeter will still exist; like it did for the telecommunications industry, and is currently happening within the IT industry, it will be moved rather than removed.

It remains a core principle that sensitive data be protected by the organisations that own and control it, and this data will always stay behind the perimeter where it can be safe. However, taking non-sensitive information about the city itself (e.g. transport, health, energy, environment, tourism, demographics, etc) from across multiple organisations and making it open and accessible via the World-wide Web will allow it to it to be shared, understood, combined, visualised, improved and used in new ways. It will create transparency, create new communities, new opportunities and it will transform decision-making.

Open Glasgow is passionate about the positive effect across communities in Glasgow and we’d like you to be a part of this. In fact, we even want you to contribute your data about your communities and interests. Contact us – comment below!