Cisco’s plumbing will soon feed Teradata’s brains, according to last week’s announcement. That’s a no-brainer of a partnership, since everyone knows that Cisco’s good at data plumbing and Teradata’s good at data analytics. But the news release lets the interesting part go unexplained.
To get a glimpse, you have to do look at Teradata’s newish Customer Journey. It’s a bundle of technology that monitors and guides customers along each person’s path from flirtation to commitment.
To see the city application, just skew it away from large commercial organizations, which are the current users, and point it toward cities. Call this repurposed bundle Citizen Journey and you have an urban designer’s wet dream.
This extra-smart beast would ingest Cisco’s data, plus any other data that may come its way, and take care of opted-in citizens with machine-like intimacy. It would sense locations, intentions, likes and dislikes, cravings, plans, and emergencies. It might even abide by tribe rules, such as to avoid Starbucks in favor of independent coffee shops. It would guide, suggest, nudge, and remind each individual in real-real time over text, email, or calls — but only for those who opt-in, I assume.
Wait, exactly what would citizens opt in for? Consider what Customer Journey does in the commercial world. A bank, for example, sees a customer spend an hour on the mortgage calculator and then drop it. It may ask why. It offers help. It might offer calibrated incentives. Or imagine a telco that knows what each customer wants who calls the call center even before rep says hello. The beast watches, knows, predicts, and prompts.
I doubt if even the real dreamers among us can see the full possibilities yet.
It’s not just the dreamers whose imaginations work on this, it’s those with nightmares, too. I’ve worked with some. These ever-vigilant citizen activists in every city will speak articulately in forums that matter. I know this class, having lived among them and having edited media published by environmental organizations they helped lead. What will ensure that the beast behaves itself?
Technology and its makers can’t stop themselves. The only real limit, it seems to me, comes with an alert, politically active, and tech-savvy public — led by a public-interest group staffed by experts and advocates. Through them, the public has to insist on GDPR-level transparency and legislated protection.
Once we’ve agreed on that, the smart beast can can be a catalyst for collaboration and a platform on which cities thrive.