The FTC recently shared some informative guidelines to help businesses leverage the power and insights of AI technology, but to do so in a manner that keeps fairness, truth, and equity firmly in mind. At MetTel, we’ve been paying close attention for years to the technologies—from AI to mobility and IoT—that are serving as catalysts for the ongoing digital transformation of our workplaces and communities. AI privacy concerns and security risks, when it comes to bringing smart machines into our offices, vehicles, and community spaces, is an issue we care deeply about.
But the good news is that forward-thinking cities and businesses are already making smart, managed investments in IoT and AI technology, with the guidance of experienced partners to help them walk that fine line between leveraging the data and insights these tools provide while also being mindful of employee/citizen privacy rights.
An example can be found in the world of fleet management and driver safety improvements. Mobile operations all over the country, some with thousands of vehicles on the road, are investing in dashboard cameras with built-in AI technology that can detect when drivers are exhibiting behaviors that may lead to unsafe vehicle operation. This data can be tremendously insightful and effective in terms of modifying unsafe driving behaviors, improving compliance with safety policies and regulations, and saving thousands of dollars per vehicle in avoided accidents and fines.
However, its application, storage, and accessibility must be carefully regulated and managed to protect drivers’ privacy concerns and reputations. AI privacy is becoming a significant concern as machines, seemingly growing “smarter” by the minute, can interpret biological markers, recognize facial and fingerprint patterns, and even monitor body functions. Who has access to this data? How is it stored, and how securely? What are the regulations and policies around sharing this type of data?
Organizations that want to take advantage of the many benefits of IoT and AI technology also need to be sure they are mindful of the potential security, legal, and personal risks of mismanaging this data. That’s why working with an experienced partner that has successfully developed and managed AI-enabled platforms, like cameras and smart sensors, is critical for any successful deployment of IoT/fleet management technology.
Protection for employees—from privacy concerns, biased data profiling, risk of exposing personal data to outside partners, unfair usage of predictive analytics, etc.—should be taken with utmost seriousness by any company or business that is looking to leverage AI technology to increase efficiencies. For one thing, as the FTC article states, if you don’t hold yourselves accountable for ensuring these safety practices, the FTC certainly will.
Secondly, it’s just smart business practice to reassure and communicate with your employees whenever deploying any new technology to them, but particularly with one that involves monitoring and tracking work practices and behaviors. You must be deliberate and sensitive with your deployment, making sure to address any lingering fears and misconceptions and preparing stakeholders within the organization to answer employee questions and explain the rationale behind the decision to deploy.
Whether you are introducing AI-enabled cameras in your fleet vehicles, smart sensors in your warehouse or office spaces, or cloud-managed firewalls to protect your data networks, we always recommend the same things: to embrace transparency and truthfulness in the communication of deployment plans; be aware of how data algorithms and predictive analytics can perpetuate racial biases; and be diligent in protecting the privacy and best interests of your employees. These aren’t just the best business practices; they also help to chart an ethical and humane path forward in your organization’s ongoing digital transformation.