Sidewalk Labs' street signs alert people to data collection in use

Sidewalk Labs' street signs alert people to data collection in use

The idea behind Sidewalk Labs' icons is pretty simple. The company wants to create an image-based language that can quickly convey information to people the same way that street and traffic signs do. Icons on the signs would show if cameras or other devices are capturing video, images, audio or other information. Additionally, Sidewalk Labs plans to color-code the signs to highlight how the information is used. Yellow signs mean data being collected is identifiable while blue means it is de-identified before being used. Other colors could be introduced to convey any additional details.

The signs would also include a QR code that would display additional information about the data collection process in a given area. Citizens could scan the code and be presented with a detailed explanation of who is collecting data, the exact information they are sucking up from passersby and what they intend to use it for. It would also show how long the data is retained by the collector and how it is stored.

For Now, Sidewalk Labs' signs are just a concept. The first draft has been made publicly available on GitHub, and the company is planning to make tweaks over time. The signage in its current format will get a test run at the Sidewalk Labs offices in Toronto, and digital marketing company Soofa has agreed to demo the icons in a number of cities where it operates.