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Mobile smartphones can be easily programmed to automatically record GPS coordinates and accelerometer readings, creating geocoded, time-stamped, activity logs of our every day lives. When combined with the wealth of spatial data and models available on the web these activity traces can be used to make strong inferences. Moreover, even the simplest mobile phone can be used to capture time-stamped self-reported data; and, when supported by web-based applications to prompt, capture, and curate, these “tweets with a purpose” can create traces of your vital signs, medical symptoms, mood, eating habits, etc. Unlike much of the data captured by third party services and surveillance systems, our activity and self-report traces are already personally identified, legally reusable and releasable by the individual, and very easily processed. We have the opportunity to learn so much more about ourselves, at close to zero marginal cost. While it is true that since the pervasive adoption of credit cards, automatically-generated traces of our lives have been gathered, by and large this learning has not been easily actionable by individuals and the data (for better, not worse) has been used primarily by the collecting institutions. With the broad adoption of mobile phones and easily leveraged web/cloud services, we have the opportunity to capture, process, and learn from our own traces. In this talk Deborah will describe promising applications and suggest that it’s time to consider the technical and legal structures needed for individuals to retain control over their telling traces.
Deborah Estrin, PhD, is Professor of Computer Science at UCLA, and co-Director of a new non-profit, openmhealth.org. Estrin is known as a thought leader in the innovative application of wireless and mobile technologies. Ongoing projects include self-monitoring applications in support of health and wellness and Participatory Sensing campaigns for community data gathering, citizen science, and STEM education in her career, she was an active member of the Internet research and open standards community. Estrin is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.