Ratti recalled a burglary at the MIT campus, the included the theft of the tags that could track where the burglers went. Amid laughter from the audience, Ratti told of how images these devices sent back were photos of the suspect, including one where he wore a T-shirt with the address of his business. "The MIT police took care of the rest," he said.
There are, of course, privacy issues, he acknowledged, that have prompted some countries to begin banning Google Streetview.
Laura Schewel, cofounder of Streetlight Data, which helps collect anonymized location data for businesses and governments, said there is a difference in public reaction when data is collected for a business versus when it is looked at by government agencies, as evidenced by the Snowden affair.
At the end of the day, all the panelists agreed that it's essential for governments and citizens to have a dialogue about the types of information that are needed, and collected, and what happens with that information. "Cities can talk back to us," Ratti said.
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