Episode Archive

SCP E177 Digital and data literacy in Smart Communities, with Debbie Reynolds

In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I had a wonderful chat with Debbie Reynolds, AKA The Data Diva. Now you may remember Debbie was a guest on the podcast just back in March 2020, but we had actually recorded that interview in December 2019. So then when COVID-19 broke out I knew I wanted to catch up again with Debbie and this podcast episode another audio from the YouTube series I’ve been doing catching up with previous podcast guests during the pandemic. 

So in this episode, Debbie and I discuss what she’s been up to since we last spoke and how COVID has changed her work schedule. We cover the fact that there is an increased need for data privacy and cyber security expertise during this time while so many people are on the internet more, as well as the need for both digital literacy and data literacy. Debbie and I explore the convergence of our digital personas with our real lives, and how to encourage people to take advantage of the benefits of being online while being discerning about the risks. We also discuss the internet as a human right in Smart Cities and what the pandemic is exposing and amplifying about the problems and the opportunities that already existed in our communities, such as lack of internet access or the possibility of avoiding a commute by working from home. We finish our chat with Debbie sharing some of her tips and tricks on data and privacy, and the benefits of using our technology to stay connected in this time of physical distancing. As always we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • What Debbie’s been up to since COVID-19 
  • The increase in the need for data privacy and cyber security expertise during this time where so many people are on the internet more
  • The need for both digital literacy and data literacy and why we must have data conversations in plain language 
  • Balancing the benefits of being online with staying informed and educated about the risks 
  • Digital hygiene, digital personas and our real life merging with our online world
  • The digital divide and why internet access is not only basic infrastructure but a human right in Smart Cities
  • The challenges of private companies moving into solving city problems but not having the same public service approach as municipalities 
  • What the pandemic is exposing about problems that were already there and opportunities too, such as working from home or Telehealth 
  • The importance of being gentle on ourselves during this global heavy collective consciousness 
  • The opportunities for Smart Cities now and what we can learn from each other  around the world right now 
  • Debbie’s tips and tricks on data and privacy 
  • Using digital technology to serve our needs at this time and stay connected 


“In terms of data [during COVID19] data doesn’t stop and data, it actually accelerates now, because a lot more people are online now than there were before. We’re hearing people in mainstream press talking about data privacy and cybersecurity issues where these things were basically just the foray of experts talking in the field or talking with specific clients. So I think it’s bringing those issues out more because we now have more people online, more people sharing data, more cybercrime. All those things become more front page issues, as opposed to something you think about as something that can happen to someone else.”

“Being able to have these conversations in plain language is very important because anyone who’s on the internet or anyone who has any type of digital life whatsoever, they need to have some literacy, like you said, in the digital world, but then they also need to know they’re potentially giving away data that they may not want to give away. You may not want to give away your worldwide rights to your image that you put on the app, you know. So it may not make a difference today but maybe a month from now or a year from now, you’ll care about that. So being able to really understand, things are moving so fast right now. It’s hard because you have to kind of really sit down and think it through before you jump in with both feet and really rely on people to get educated because it is just too easy to fall into these traps …Unfortunately, not a lot of people who are taking data or data brokers, they may not have your best interest at heart, even though they may be offering you something that’s shiny and new that you just can’t wait to have.”

“One thing I’m concerned about is having private corporations that are focused on a particular customer moving into these municipal roles where they’re providing services [to everyone], but their business case and their focus has only been a narrow part of the population…You can’t just shoehorn a solution into a city space without considering all people who are in the city, not just corporate executives, not just people that you typically would have [as customers]. It has to work for everyone.”

“The pandemic is showing the cracks that were there already, but it’s making it a lot more evident that we maybe we weren’t thinking about the problem as much as we should have. And I think it’s a big challenge and an opportunity, especially in the Smart City, space to really think it through and get this right.”

“This is an interesting time, because I feel like Smart Cities are really, you know, this is the future. And the problems that we’re having now are because we’re not really thinking about the connectedness or…how do you operate better together? I think that is the calamity on top of the virus that we’re seeing today, playing out all over the world…Hopefully this crisis will help people move past those old ideas that don’t work. And you know, maybe that’s the foundation for a Smart City.”

“A lot of people who want to do things like fraud and hacking and stuff like that, they’re very good at getting your attention online when you’re doing other things. So be careful on the things you click on, do research about new products or services you want to look at, make sure you look those things up. Thankfully, there’s a ton of people who, whether they’re professional or unprofessional reviewers of products, there’s a lot of information out there about products. So if you’re not finding a lot of information about a product, or they don’t have a good history, you should think twice. Maybe you want to call a friend up and ask them for their recommendation.”


Kim Houghton Episode 175 

Connect with Debbie via her website www.debbiereynoldsconsulting.com 

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.


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