Technology brings remarkable things to our lives that offer a chance to be safer, healthier and more social. It gives us new choices for how to live and just to know things. Technology can do even more and 2015 offers us a chance to tackle some of the biggest problems — those of transparency — that we faced in 2014.
Technology offers us the chance to make policing more transparent and to significantly reduce the “he said, she said” issues that we saw in Ferguson, Missouri. Los Angeles, a city that has had its share of he said, she said, is buying 7,000 body cameras in an effort to improve and safeguard police relations in a city with many minority populations. LA Mayor Garcetti says:
The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment. Trust is built on transparency.
It will be interesting to see how an experiment of this scale works out, but they’re headed in the right direction.
Technology offers us the chance to make state behavior more transparent and agreements more enforceable. States like North Korea are able to threaten neighbors because they’ve managed to put a tight clamp on access to people and information. As the world economy becomes more digital, North Korea’s exports (including weapons systems) become harder to build, sell and service unless they, too, drive on the information superhighway. States that fall behind technology trends will feel increasing pressure on their export economies and even on their ability to import from abroad. Technology offers the opportunity for North Korean transparency that would go a long way in reducing the threat of another conflict.
Lastly, we tragically had two aircraft lost in 2014 where search efforts were made unnecessarily hard because readily available geolocation technology wasn’t mandated or used. Consider the days of delay recently in finding the AirAsia flight that was lost and the emotional impact to the families as they waited. Consider also the cost of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which now tops $100 million by some estimates and keeps going higher. A relatively inexpensive GPS tracking system would have provided transparency that could have saved enormous emotional and financial cost.
While technology has done so much, 2015 offers the chance to do so much more to make our world more transparent. A transparent world is one where people and their governments have greater security because good or bad, what’s happening is known and therefore addressable. Let’s hope this is the year of greater transparency through technology.