About this research
We began the work by asking the question, what types of data do telecom companies hold?
To answer this, we interviewed five people working in the telecom sectors in the UK and France including mobile and fixed line.
We also studied the legislation that requires telecoms companies to retain certain information.
From these conversations, we had a working idea of the data held about people that could potentially be made available through open APIs.
Next we wanted to understand some follow up questions:
What could people do that they cannot do now, if open telecom APIs existed?
Can we demonstrate new services that people are actually interested in?
What data do people understand phone & broadband providers hold about them?
What are people’s attitudes to privacy in relation to telecoms data held about them?
What needs do people have for the controlling telecoms data about them?
To answer these questions, we tested prototypes with ten people over two rounds of research. We showed the work and listened to reactions from diverse groups from the UK, France and further afield. There was a wide variation in attitudes to privacy as well as confidence with technology.
The prototypes were iterated based on feedback from the research sessions with the final versions being the ones presented in this report.
Throughout the project we came across a lot of previous work in the area. Here are a few articles and organizations that contributed to our thinking:
OpenSignal produce coverage maps based on data crowdsourced from millions of users of their smartphone app
OpenCellid crowdsource mobile phone towers and Wi-Fi access points, making the data available for anyone to download
This report about faulty technology and the missile alert in Hawaii
This Wired article on the link between corporate surveillance and Wi-Fi kiosks
This research paper on regulating Big Data
The UK government’s policy paper on its digital strategy
Chip is building a better savings account, using encryption and AI
Bill Monitor’s consumer calculator helps consumers find phone plans that fit their exact needs
This Kaspersky article on virtual SIM cards and what they could mean for the future of mobile phones
This article on Linky, France’s smart energy meter