Local government bodies outsourcing big data companies to moniter traffic and footfall? Fine… for now.
But 1) big data should NOT be viewed by these organisations as a potential catch-all solution to complex and long-standing public policy issues, 2) big data, by implication of its perceived benefits, should never be permitted to bypass the public procurement procedure, and 3) the effect of misusing big data in the public law enforcement sphere at this early stage of application could be devastating for the communities it is supposed to be bettering.
Treating a symptom in this way, rather than attempts to address the root cause, is at the very least myopic, and a fundamentally flawed approach to problem solving.
I doubt anyone regards big data as a panacea to public policy issues. Big data can crunch vast swarths of numbers- great. But we should not assign to it an expectation that it will interpret such data for us, and we should be especially acute to the danger of this data subliminally strengthening subconscious confirmation biases.
On an artificial intelligence point, we should be questioning the potential future effects of utilising algorithms that can not quantify our collective human emotional experience. Even if one day systems are developed that achieve this in some way, we then have to ask a bigger question; are we willing to relinquish our autonomy over the direction of our progression as a species to an algorithm that, by virtue of its digital existence, could never experience life through the prism of human physiological existence as we know it?
Have a read of this article by The Verge on the predictive policing technology utlised by law enforcement in New Orleans.