Your Data is Always Yours. - Adventures with HotSpot #2

Another week, another post. I had 20 people read my last one. I’m a tad metric driven, so I hope to get to 40 this time. It's a lofty goal but hey, who cares about slow growth, right?

Let’s chat about privacy and what it means. Not in context of an individual, but as a business. Data is a naturally-occurring resource. A by-product of value is the record of said value, which is inherently valuable; neat eh. With so many individuals concerned about their digital footprint it’s becoming more and more important to acknowledge that and decide how you will treat Data.

Privacy is actually a competitive advantage. The less we know the better. Don’t believe me? Look at Apple. Recently Apple realized that individuals were tracking MAC addresses when people walk in stores (when your phone scans for wifi it sends out a unique signal). This is not necessarily malicious but guess what, don’t do that. I didn’t ask you to do that… So stop.

Thus Apple has actually made the MAC address dynamic in the new iOS8 which means the unique number is no longer unique. So sure a business can still monitor phones pinging for wi-fi, but I can’t tell if it’s been here once or 1,000 times. This has actually devastated many companies

Good; I’m totally on board for this. These businesses were inherently being a tad secretive and collecting data that wasn’t theirs. I don’t care who you are, your data is still your data. You only get to use the data if the user allows you. Now Apple did this as a competitive differentiator and even Blackberry hasn’t thought through privacy on the contextual level.

It’s a tad different for a hardware company who literally provides a platform for software companies. You might not know this, but getting in the App store is HARD. Very hard. There are many rules to ensure users are not taken advantage of. I mean, hey! This thing has your credit card, not to mention your contact book, let’s make it safe.

Now HotSpot has taken a position of us not needing to know who you are. We don’t care. We keep your data completely private and you can use our system with only a email address (for billing) and a license plate (so you don’t get a ticket). We don’t store your credit card number, the same company Walmart uses stores it for us. We simply don’t need it after it's entered, so it's not kept.

However, sometimes it’s actually much more beneficial to the user to provide information, so we provide the option. Sometimes businesses want to give free parking on birthdays, so we ask for the birthday. Local businesses hate when their customers leave a store due to parking so we let them validate the moment they walk in. There are certain use cases when the customer can benefit from local businesses knowing a little more and if the customer wants they can provide the data.

We want you to know that it’s not ours, it’s yours. We humbly respect the trust you’ve placed in us. We just want to provide a great parking, downtown and overall city experience. The more you provide the better the experience but it’s totally your decision.

We think of Data a lot like an investment bank thinks of cash, you’re giving us value through usage and we should give you a great ROI. Start with a license plate and we’ll rid you of parking tickets. Turn on Bluetooth and we’ll give you extra time and free parking. Hopefully we can accommodate in the long term a personalized journey to each individual. But hey, let’s worry about parking first.