• Danny Penton

The Link Between Data Security and Recycling: Data Insight

Updated: Oct 9, 2018

Effective data insight is critical no matter if you are delivering a solution that protects sensitive data or one that increases recycling rates.

In a previous life, Kevin , Steve and I had a data security software company, Camouflage Software, that pioneered a product called data masking. Data masking protects data by replacing the sensitive information in databases with a fictional, realistic equivalent. The masked data looks and feels real but the risk of a data breach is greatly reduced because the original data is no longer present in the database. We had a successful run at Camouflage whereby we were on the Gartner® Magic Quadrant for Data Masking four years in a row and sold our products to some of the largest organizations in the world. Camouflage was ultimately acquired by Imperva, a leading provider of data and application security solutions.

You may be wondering what the connection is between a data security company and a green technology company that is aiming to improve recycling rates?? It is the importance of having data insight to drive decision making. Bear with me as I explain...

Prior to protecting a customer's data with masking, we first needed to find the sensitive data (names, addresses, SSN etc.) that needed protection. To do this we deployed our data classification solution, which searched databases to identify and categorize the sensitive information. This made the application of data masking much easier because of the insight the classification solution provided into the database. Trying to protect a company's data without this insight into what needed to be protected was an otherwise challenging and expensive endeavor.

I see our experience with Camouflage being very analogous to the challenges of recycling. Just like organizations know they need to protect sensitive data to avoid data breaches, municipalities and local governments know they need protect their environment by improving recycling rates. And just like organizations often don't know where to start with their data security initiatives due to insufficient insight into where the sensitive data resides, local governments have limited insight into recycling behaviors within their towns and cities.

Recycling rates are generally tracked at a very high level: by total tonnage of recyclable material collected in a city or town relative to total tonnage of solid waste collected and sent to landfills. This type of broad measurement provides no ability to analyze or understand the recycling activities within the town or city, which in turn hinders the effectiveness of any efforts to improve recycling.

And that is the basic problem we are aiming to solve. In our security days we used data classification to map sensitive information in a database. With alooki we intend to map recycling participation by capturing recycling activities at the point of collection to provide insight into the recycling rates at the route, neighborhood and household levels. Once that information is available we can then help towns and cities implement more effective campaigns to improve diversion rates. This in turn will allow municipalities to get a much higher return on the investment being made in their recycling programs and make our neighborhoods a little greener.

Whether you are protecting data or striving to increase recycling rates, data insight is critical to making these initiatives successful.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” Sherlock Holmes, “A Study in Scarlett” (Arthur Conan Doyle)

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