Open Science Behind Closed Doors: Empowering Citizens to Use Their Private Data for Decision-making
Assistant Researcher at the Institute for Energy Efficiency, University of California, Santa Barbara
Direct observation of material and energy consumption is the most fundamental exercise of industrial ecology research. To date, there exists no mechanism to connect the individual observations of consumers to the larger-scale industrial material ﬂows that those observations represent. As a consequence, our knowledge of these ﬂows depends on intermediary data sources that are invariably collected for other purposes by independent agents, whose ambitions do not necessarily coincide with those of the observed parties (consumers), of the industrial ecology research community, or of society more broadly.
This project will outline the design of a computing system that can estimate the magnitude and spatiotemporal characteristics of industrial material ﬂows through privacy-preserving aggregation of the voluntary observations of a distributed community of participants. To achieve these aims, the measuring device requires a constitutive protection of individual privacy, a network of trust for establishing identity, a means for participants to collect and contribute their observations, and a common framework for interpreting the aggregated results. Such an apparatus could generate new knowledge of the material and energy requirements of society in a manner that provides operational intelligence directly to the people in a position to use it to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities.