or should that be PD Tracking?
For years, the ISTE Conference or, before that, the NECC Conference was the place to see and to be seen in education. I’ve been to many and have presented at many as well.
There was a new wrinkle this year – being tracked.
Now, in the beginning of Social Media, we were all worried and concerned that by tweeting from a conference, we were advertising to the whole world that we weren’t at home – help yourself. I don’t actually recall any incidents.
I find it very interesting that there would have been sessions about student privacy and safety in an event that unveiled a new and controversial concept this year – the Smart Badge. Details, from the ISTE perspective can be found here. You’ll notice that there is a rationale for the Badge – to provide a better conference experience and to provide you with a “Journey” summary after the event.
I think it’s interesting that we blissfully go around with our Smartphones relying in the fact that our location data is gathered anonymously and we see purposeful use for it when looking at traffic maps to see where congestion and slow downs are located.
In this particular case, a Smart Badge is part of your registration which means that a specific identifier would be attached to your name. When I first got a sense of this from folks attending talking about it on Twitter, red flags went up immediately.
Now, of course, the FAQs above indicate that you can have the opportunity to “opt out” and get a non-tracking badge. It sounded good although Gary Stager indicated that he wasn’t given that option.
. Oh, so many questions. 1) Why was I explicitly told by the registration booth that I could not have a non-tagged holder and that I was prohibited from removing the #iste18 surveillance device?
— Gary Stager, Ph.D. (@garystager) June 27, 2018
And yet, David Thornburg indicated that he was successful. Interesting anecdote included about European attendees.
When you pick up your badge, you have the option to opt out of the smart badge (the guy showed me his screen) so I did. They kept unmarked badge holders for the Europeans (tracking is against their laws) and people like me who raise a stink.
— David Thornburg (@dthornburg) June 29, 2018
Both gentlemen obviously had their antenna up about things. There was a good rationale – by monitoring traffic patterns, the organizers could help with traffic blocks. Do you remember the old days when there were people with coloured shirts and walkie-talkies?
This certainly didn’t pass quietly. Just take a look at this Twitter conversation.
Is it time to blissfully accept that this is the future? Here are a couple of hacking articles that will get you thinking.
Beyond the promise of a better traffic experience at the conference and the ISTE 2018 Journey, other possibilities for this data come to mind.
- track how many people walk out of a session
- find out which exhibitors had the most visitors
- track which restaurants were frequented the most
- see who met up with whom
- count the numbers of people who left the conference centre
- a report summary of activity to be sent to your employer
This technology is young. We read about hacks on data centres on a regular basis. What do we know about the data procedures of the company that was sourced to provide the service?
I suppose that this sort of thing was inevitable in our “always on” world. I think the same thing could be accomplished with a conference application although the Smart Badge has the advantage that you can ensure that everyone has one. Well, except for David Thornburg and those attending from Europe.
What are your thoughts about the concept of a Smart Badge and being tracked while at a PD Conference?