If you think that the conceit behind Ubisoft’s hacker-themed video game Watch Dogs isn’t real enough, be sure to take a look at this website.
Watch_Dogs We Are Data takes real world, publicly-accessible location-based data and parses it into a display ripped directly from the video game of the same name. You can visit Berlin, Paris, or London, and zoom on down into the various regions of each city to see where mobile phones are, read tweets originating from specific spots, and see icons that represent CCTV feeds, traffic lights, and more.
If this doesn’t freak you out even just a little, then more power to you.
Each city shows off a host of data, including transportation, network nodes (internet relays, Wi-Fi hostpots), city infrastructure like ATMS and public toilets, and social networking data from sites like Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Flicker, each of which use location data to inform their activities.
You can even log in with Facebook to see which of your friends are on the site, though that’s probably just a way to get your account connected to the Ubisoft game servers. I didn’t see any of my friends in the list.
Watch_Dogs WeAreData only gathers the available location data from sources that it’s been given authorization by; there isn’t any information from non-authorized sources, like, say, from the government.
It’s a ton of fun to click through and see what’s going on in a city; I was able to pull up an Instagram photo of a woman in Berlin who was having a late meal of Falafel. It’s also a bit scary knowing that all this data exists, and how easily it must be for any government agencies or groups who wish us harm to gather the same data.
Of course, this is indeed a marketing website; I’m hard-pressed not to fire up my copy of Watch Dogs right now and run around the fictitious realities there, hacking into people’s phones and bank accounts. Here’s hoping it’s not that easy to do in the real world.