Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Unisys survey finds support for sharing health data

Steve Rogerson
August 3, 2017
Consumers largely support sharing personal data with police or healthcare providers via smart devices, but enthusiasm varies depending on why and by whom the data are collected and how they are to be used, according to a survey by IT company Unisys.
Results from the US survey found that 84 per cent supported using a button on their phones or smartwatches to alert police to their location during emergencies. By contrast, only 32 per cent supported police being able to monitor fitness tracker data anytime to determine their location.
Consumers registered high support for the ability of medical devices such as pacemakers or blood sugar sensors to transmit immediately significant changes to a patient's doctor, with 78 per cent of respondents supportive.
But only about one in three respondents (36 per cent) supported health insurers accessing fitness tracker data to determine a premium or reward customers for good behaviour.
More than three-quarters of respondents registered support for safe cities technologies ranging from sensors that could automatically detect harmful chemicals or radiation (86 per cent of respondents said this technology would make them feel safer) to sensors that could determine where and when a gun has been fired and automatically notify police (76 per cent).
Seventy-seven per cent said they would feel safer with the deployment of both video surveillance systems that could detect suspicious behaviour and automatically notify police. The same percentage supported equipping police with facial recognition technology to enable them to identify criminals who should be apprehended.
"Americans want to obtain the efficiencies and security benefits of the internet of things, but not at the expense of losing control of their personal data," said Bill Searcy, vice president for Unisys and a former FBI deputy assistant director. "For the IoT to succeed, governments, healthcare organisations, financial institutions and other enterprises must take steps to assure the public that personal data collected from IoT devices will be secure and that privacy will be protected."
Smart devices, part of the IoT phenomenon, refer to objects or systems that can connect and exchange information over the internet. Unisys examined consumer reaction to the trend as part of the 2017 Unisys Security Index, a global study that gauges the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security issues. The study polled more than 1000 adults in the USA during April 2017.
Americans generally support IoT applications that promote security and convenience. Beyond support for IoT technology for law enforcement and healthcare, US consumers said they also saw potential value in areas such as air travel and banking.
For example, 70 per cent of respondents supported the use of sensors in luggage that communicated with an airport's baggage management system and an app on mobile phones to tell them when their luggage had been unloaded and on what carousel it would be. Respondents were divided on support for using a smartwatch app from a bank or credit card company to make payments, with 40 per cent supportive and 40 per cent against it.
Most respondents who did not support some IoT applications reported that they simply did not want various organisations to obtain information about them. Also, many said they did not see a compelling need for the organisations to obtain the data.
Nearly half (49 per cent) of those who did not support using a smartwatch app from a bank or credit card company to make payments said they were most worried about the security of those transactions.
When asked specifically about their concerns about hackers or malicious intruders gaining access to their financial transactions, more than 90 per cent registered some level of concern about the security of transactions using mobile devices or computer, with nearly 60 per cent reporting they were "very" or "extremely" concerned about the security of those transactions.
A large majority of respondents also registered concern about the possibility of hackers or malicious intruders gaining access to internet-connected medical devices such as defibrillators, pacemakers or insulin pumps belonging to them or someone they know – with 78 per cent reporting some level of concern and 51 per cent "very" or "extremely" concerned.
"Banks and other financial institutions can address consumer concerns around data security of smartwatch payment channels through a multi-pronged approach that addresses both policy and technology, such as the use of biometrics," said Eric Crabtree, vice president and global head of Unisys Financial Services. "These types of technological advances can more quickly and accurately determine whether a transaction is fraudulent, giving customers a greater sense of security."