As municipal systems from transit to public health become ever-more data driven, cities have been attempting to sort out the privacy issues that come with collecting so much personal information. Its no small task — “granular” data (i.e. raw and record-level information) is the most useful for policy and research purposes, but it also contains the most detailed personal information, which carries the most risk in the event of a breach.

Santa Clara County, home to Mountain View and San Jose, has announced the hiring of a chief privacy officer to oversee its more data-driven efforts. The position, filled by U.S. Army veteran and security expert Mike Shapiro, is a new one for the Silicon Valley county — and according to San Jose Inside, its a relatively new position in general. The county is reportedly one of the first in the country to hire a privacy specialist in a designated municipal role, though many cities have embraced chief data officers(CDOs) to oversee their numbers-driven programs. 

Creating the office was “the logical next step” for the county, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a statement. 

“Santa Clara County, as a government, collects sensitive and personal information, including health, financial, voting and criminal records,” he said. “With Mike Shapiro on board, I’m hopeful that we can become a national leader – in not only protecting that information from outside assault, but in handling it appropriately within the county.”

Some of the first projects Shapiro will tackle include privacy-related aspects of the county’s surveillance ordinance amendments, whistleblower confidentiality requirements, patient protections and data-sharing policies.