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18 August 2017
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Sensored information (continued)

Martin Read is editor of FM World
Martin Read is editor of FM World

7 August 2017 Martin Read

It’s not often that this column acts as a ‘Part Two’ to a subject covered in the same column last month, but so it is this month as a result of two recent events.

You’ll recall that I was commenting on how data about workspace usage was being acquired and accessed. At some stage, I suggested, human nature would offer a defensive wall against technology’s intrusion into our habits in the workplace. 

Because let’s face it, who really wants to worry about what position they’re on in a league table of people who sit down too much; or who spend too much time in the washroom; or who haven’t taken in enough vitamins today. Each of those three scenarios is already possible – and relatively easy to do. The question left unanswered was simply this: at what point do we say enough is enough?

So, two things have since happened. At an event to celebrate the Stoddart Review’s ‘Workplace Advantage’ report, Chris Moriarty, UK MD of data analysis consultancy Leesman, spoke about how we’re perhaps less sensitive to such intrusion than we might think. He mentioned how he initially disliked the idea of his phone tracking his every move from home to office, right up until the one day a traffic advisory popped up on his screen. 

The phone had learnt his likely route, tapped in to the local traffic system and worked out that it was worth advising its ‘owner’ that trouble may lie ahead. The result? Useful information like this, suggests Moriarty, mean we begin to worry less about the data we’re giving away with every footstep. Fair point.

Then, however, we had Three Market Square, an American micro-tech firm which last month began offering its employees the ‘opportunity’ to have a near-field communications chip implanted into their hands in order to complete a variety of workplace tasks. Imagine it: you can log on to your computer, breeze through security doors, print out at the copier – all without having to worry about a cumbersome ID card or fob. Soon you’ll be able to pay for services just by a wave of the hand. All very ‘Star Wars’.

Arthur C.Clark once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Well and good, but seriously – is each of us becoming one of the Internet of Things’ ‘things’ a good, ahem, thing?

Martin Read is editor of FM World