I was seven years old when I had mastered the basics of summations. I had to practice what I know and teachers, of course, gave us basic sums every day. Our education system wants to connect math to the real world. That’s how our math books was filled with stories of kids going to the market to buy apples, count the books on the bookshelf or count the people in buses. They’re relatable. As a kid I was now familiar with the paradigm of paying for food in a shop and how much was adequate and if I gave too much, I would get change.
I never expected to see bus sums in real life. Until I actually started taking the bus regularly. I take the bus every day to get from the office to the train station and my preferred seat is behind the bus driver. I see most of the things he does and that’s when I noticed. Some bus drivers have a sheet with all the bus stops and they write down how many people are in the bus. 25 people are on the bus. 7 get off and 3 people get in. How many people are in the bus?
I understand why they do it. The bus company wants to monitor the amount of people which are using public transportation at which times. If there are times when they have more commuters than space in a bus regularly, they have to reserve bigger or more buses for these routes. You have to be prepared for change and the only way to that, is to gather data. But why not use technology instead of manual counting?
Technology is everywhere now and we almost can’t live without it in our daily lives. It’s become much easier to track who goes where, when and what we do. Foursquare check-ins, loyalty programs, facial recognition in video security, Wi-Fi connections. In the Dutch public transport, we have to use a special card to check-in. It’s a perfect way to keep track of the amount of people on the bus. It serves as our ticket and the system will deduct the correct amount from the digital wallet connected to the card. There are two choices to recharge your wallet: prepaid and a direct link with your bank account. Do you see the privacy concerns?
Big data as a trend in technology is just that. You can give up bits of your privacy to help making services better (enough buses during high traffic hours) or receive discounts (loyalty programs). But is it worth it?
Image by MD111