There may be no limit to the information online consumers will provide in exchange for an improved shopping experience, but the population at large is a bit more reluctant, even as it acknowledges the benefits, according to a new survey of Quebec and Ontario residents by OVH.

According to the French cloud services provider’s “Barometer on Digital Society,” survey, released on March 1, 85 per cent indicated that access to economic, social, and other provincial or municipal information would enhance democracy; however, the circumstances that would inspire them to share their own data varied.

Based on the survey, which polled 1000 residents of Ontario and 1000 from Quebec:

  • 42 per cent would share personal data to improve or guarantee their personal safety;
  • 33 per cent would to improve travel time;
  • 32 per cent would to save time (online shopping, invoice payments, etc.);
  • 29 per cent would to avoid line-ups
  • 27 per cent would to improve their interaction with public services; and
  • 39 per cent said they would never share their personal information at all.
Courtesy OVH (click for a larger version)

In a March 1 statement, OVH communications officer Guillaume Gilbert said the results indicated that respondents were hesitant to share private information for the greater good despite recognizing the benefits, though he noted that he expected public opinion to change in the near future.

“Technology and the way we use it is changing fast and it will be interesting to see how the opinions of residents change over the next five years,” he said.

It’s worth noting that the older and wealthier respondents became, the more likely they were to believe access to public information would enhance democracy, with 30 per cent of Ontarians aged 55 and up and 33 per cent of respondents with an annual income of more than $100,000 saying they believed democracy would be enhanced “a lot” with access to public information.

Support also increased substantially when the focus was on public institutions: 92 per cent of respondents in Ontario said they would find digital tools “useful” or “somewhat useful” when engaging with provincial or municipal public institutions, for example, with millennials less inclined than respondents aged 55 and up to find digital tools worthwhile.

When asked for the best use of technology in a city, public safety, including emergency services, came in first among Ontario respondents at 37 per cent; followed by public transit at 30 per cent; infrastructure, such as public works, at 19 per cent; and urban development at 14 per cent.

OVH also asked respondents which smart city apps they most wanted to see:

  • 37 per cent supported an app that reveals the user’s geographic location, as well as nearby emergency services, in the event of an accident;
  • 24 per cent supported an app that reports dangerous road conditions or obstacles;
  • 21 per cent supported an app listing all nearby free and paid parking locations; and
  • 18 per cent supported an app listing all available modes of transportation and their associated costs.

Finally, 80 per cent of Ontario respondents felt that it was “important” or “very important” for public institutions to invest in digital management systems to better gauge the energy use of electronic equipment such as lighting and sensors.

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