103. Geospatial Data Science...Gone Wrong!!

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This Halloween, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is perhaps the most frightening thing that is lurking around the corner...

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GDPR highlights the fact that increased availability of data comes with a potentially devastating catch - and that data scientists, who are responsible for this information, need to take extra care.

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The regulation, which comes into force in May 2018, is focused on strengthening and unifying data protection for all individuals within the EU. This means that any information (including locational information) about an EU citizen which is on your organization's servers will need to be managed and protected carefully.

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The logic behind GDPR is that data collected for various purposes can be easily fused with other open data in order to build a bigger picture of an individual. This means that information, such as purchase history records or daily commute path, can be used as a stepping stone to gathering more insights about a particular person. If for example, your innocent Google searches have ever resulted in you looking at a complete stranger's social life then you may understand how easily this can happen.


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As scientists, analysts and marketers know well, the more information you have, the easier it is to build on this information and to develop deeper insights.


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That's why it's called 'data science'...

It's about forming connections.





GDPR is about protecting the anonymity of European citizens in an age when these citizens are sharing online more and more information about themselves - either knowingly or unknowingly. The purpose of GDPR is to ensure that this information is being limited on an almost 'need-to-know' basis, that it is being protected by data and IT custodians and that it is not being misused in any way.

And now for the terrifying thing...

Aside from reputational damages, the penalties facing organizations that breach GDPR could be financially crippling...

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Perhaps knowing everything is not worth it after all!

Read more about this topic in the December issue of GIS Professional magazine.