Emergency Alert Study Reveals Metadata's Better Side
Cellphone metadata, at the center of the recent Edward Snowden leaks in the United States, isn’t just helpful to spooks and secret spy programs with Orwellian names. According to one new study, for instance, small samples of cellphone metadata can reveal emergency situations in real time in a way that could benefit first responders and protect the public.
The new finding reveals the double-edged sword that metadata has become. All data—including the metadata Snowden’s leak showed the National Security Agency to be collecting—is value-neutral. It is useful for purposes good or bad or somewhere in between. So while the Snowden-NSA debate today is sometimes framed as though the metadata were the problem, the public safety study joins a raft of recent research highlighting other uncontroversial and productive uses of metadata.
A story for IEEE Spectrum on July 24, 2013
(cc) image by Nadya Peek