Wicked Ideas

Tommy Cooke

Dr. Tommy Cooke
Dr. Tommy Cooke

Post-doctoral Fellow, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's University, Canada

As SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow, Tommy is leading a long-term multidisciplinary collaboration that brings computer scientists and social scientists together to empirically record and critically analyze the lifecycle of location metadata on smartphones.

Supervised by Dr. David Lyon, “A Day in the Life of Metadata” (ADITLOM) involves multiple sub-projects:

The first reverse-engineers of the creation, transformation, and commodification of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) raw measurements.

The second involves the creation of new interactive data visualization software that allows instructors, students, civil society, and privacy advocates to virtually navigate the operating system of an Android smartphone to see how location metadata moves and changes with each algorithm that they interact with.

The third sub-project, called “Big Data Exposed: What Smartphone Metadata Reveals About Users” (BDE) is an experiment that traces how third-party Mobile Location Analytics companies collect smartphone location data to build and subsequently sell traveler and consumer profiles of the residents of Kingston to corporations and governments during the pandemic. Supported by funding awarded by Queen’s University’s Wicked Ideas competition, BDE runs in partnership with the City of Kingston to promote data ethics, privacy, and justice awareness about how their smartphone data is being targeted by companies across the globe for public health, entertainment, and profit purposes. 

With Dr. David Lyon, Tommy co-instructed SOCY 429 Pandemic Surveillance for the Department of Sociology, and is also a Course Designer for the Faculty of Engineer’s Ingenuity Labs. Tommy is also host of the What’s That Noise?! Podcast, which can be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.

Contact: tommy.cooke [at] queensu [dot] ca

Twitter: @whatsthatdata