Many tech companies that sell to government agencies are working to minimize the personal data their products collect — because in an increasingly connected world amid growing concerns around privacy, citizens demand it.
For a certain type of technology company, collecting individualized data has become a business liability.
It seems antithetical to the usual narrative, to the idea that data is the new oil and those who can find ways to mine it will get rich quick. Indeed, this largely remains true in the private sector. In government, however, an opposite notion has begun to take hold: With citizens increasingly aware that new and smaller technologies are able to record, monitor and identify their activities, many agencies now insist that the products they buy avoid storing personalized information. In other words, collecting too much or the wrong kind of data can cost these businesses their customers.
At least, so say a handful of gov tech companies. Their products are diverse — ranging from recording equipment able to detect gunshots to sensors on benches that count sidewalk traffic — but their approach to data is the same: All collect information and must serve a specific mission without storing personal info that could be used to identify individuals.
The reason for this is simply that communities across the country demand it, and if the people are not OK with a product, government won’t — or perhaps, can’t — buy it. With all of that in mind, let’s look now at these five companies, the products they sell and the precautions they have installed to ensure that citizenries nationwide are comfortable having them in their communities.