Author: Irene Ng

HAT Research continues!

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HAT Research Continues!

There are HUGE plans for research as we move into the new year! Watch out for the list of our activities:


Click on the image for the RUMPEL flyer

The HAT is done – it’s stable to be built on and it’s ready. But it’s like saying, ‘I have a www or I have an operating system’. Not exciting. What we need is a killer app (and there can be many!) to get the HAT into a roll-out stage where it would be adopted by millions. So the research team now focuses on the second HAT project we have to deliver on – a personal resource planning system – the HARRIET project. And the HARRIET project will deliver – RUMPEL. What is RUMPEL? Hold on – let me explain.

First – when we say personal data, many people do not know what we mean! Do you mean my email address? Do you mean my credit card details? Or my address? Actually, it’s a lot more than that! But the problem we have is that we haven’t really SEEN our personal data – they are taken by the firms and we don’t even understand/haven’t seen what we have given away. Let me make this point clear: We don’t understand and value our own personal data because we haven’t really seen it. This is why we would so happily give it away for a chance to play a simple game etc. etc. For a market to happen, both sides must feel that a commodity is of value. Otherwise, it’s like us mining rubbish and giving it away. There will never be real prices and a market would not happen.

So what is this personal data? Well, there is your location on your phone, your Facebook postings, the music you listen to, etc. etc. BUT we have never seen them all in one place! So when we don’t have a way of seeing our data, we don’t feel precious about it. It’s like seeing bits of your clothing all over the place, but only when they come together in your wardrobe do you realise you have some good stuff and you can mix and match for your own benefit. RUMPEL therefore fulfills this important psychological function with your personal data – making it your own hyper data browser (our personal data wardrobe) with good data visualisations of your own data and allowing you to create bundles and collections. And in so doing, Rumpel must be able to ‘spin straw to gold’ – to make the human being feel his data has value to himself. There are many people who want to sell their data because they think it is valuable to firms. What they don’t understand is that an exchange of a precious commodity can happen only when BOTH SIDES value the data.  If RUMPEL can make you see real value of the data TO YOURSELF, you will demand more in exchange for it. But more importantly, the firms would also find your contextualised data more valuable as well!

Clearly Rumpel is a challenge of interaction design, user experience design and data visualisation. Yup, that’s why it’s a research project. But we should have Rumpel out by January 2016 because we have been working on it for awhile.

Second – when we give Rumpel over to our entrepreneurial team (HATDeX), we want our HAT Platform Providers (HPPs) to be profitable from selling apps like RUMPEL to help us with our data! RUMPEL is free for the first year of roll-out and after that, there would be a minimum cost (to be decided by the entrepreneurial HATDEX team -please ignore the £1 in the flyer – it is only a recommendation) and our HPPs would get a commission off that – the way Apple get a commission from their apps. This will help our HPPs get into revenues quickly – assuming they are ready to take on RUMPEL when it’s ready to launch. HPPs – are you ready to RUMPEL??????? 😉

The HARRIET project is managed by our resident Behavioral and Decision Researcher – Dr Ganna Pogrebna.


2. READiPEDEX (who comes up with all these acronyms!): METADATA, BLOCK CHAINS & CRYPTOCURRENCIES

The HAT begins its blockchain initiative! We will be conducting an open innovation competition for developers to access the feasibility and evaluate the impact of blockchain (and related technology) adoption in a really distributed personal data exchange.

We anticipate having Hackathon events for a three-month period from Jan 2016 to maximise access to a large quantity of innovative ideas on the following three objectives:

  1. Deploying Blockchain-enabled transaction script and distributed public ledger to facilitate live HAT2HAT (contextualised) data exchange in a distributed consensus;
  2. Developing Mining-alike process to discover contextualised packages for personal data configuration as the basic unit of exchange (in comparison with mining coins in Bitcoin); and
  3. Experimenting with Smart Contracts (Szabo, 1997) with embedded cryptocurrency payment (such as Bitcoin) for the HAT personal data exchange transactions in the ecosystem.

The Alpha community would  be a test bed for these interesting apps, so running the hackathons would be a way for developers to try their READiPEDEX apps in readiness for the full global launch of HAT in July 2016 (beta is in April). We have cash prizes as well!

READiPEDEX applications are blockchain (related) technology enabled, and we anticipate six applications – two addressing each objective – to be offered to the global HAT community. The applications will be tested and evaluated by the HAT and HARRIET teams against Innovatively, Compatibility and Scalability (as assessment categories), to derive one winning and two other shortlisted teams against each objective.

The READiPEDEX project is managed by HAT CTO Dr Xiao Ma.

Sssh….. we also have more research projects coming on the HAT as well – but we’ll let you know once we secure the funding!

Check out the HAT’s entrepreneurial activities!

The HAT Foundation Social Entrepreneurs

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The market is launched with 50 Alpha HATs, and the official RCUK HAT research project has ended on  Nov 30 2015 with the project’s handing off to two branches – the continuing HAT/HARRIET research branch of activities and HAT Foundation entrepreneurial branch of activities. This post introduces the entrepreneur team.


Entrepreneurial Activities: HAT Foundation

The Entrepreneurial team consists of two entities – HAT Data Exchange Ltd (HATDeX) and HAT Community Foundation  – forming the HAT Foundation Social Enterprise. You would have seen the explanations in our HAT briefing paper 5 and the blogpost on the HAT Foundation by now. So in this post, let me introduce you to our entrepreneurial founding team.


HATDeX’s job is to build the HAT ecosystem, scale the HATs and support all ecosystem participants including HPPs, HAPs, HAT users etc. commercially. This is with the support of University of Warwick who have, in principle, approved the gifting of all the HAT and HARRIET Software IP over to HATDeX and, in line with the 6-universities HAT research project collaboration agreement (which took a crazy amount of time to get signed), released the HAT 2015-10-22 12.15.40database schema and logic under a Creative Commons license. So HATDeX is in charge of the roll-out of HATs globally (think of it as a securities exchange for data), together with our HPPs. As we go through the due process of getting commercial agreements and IPs sorted we expect a proper launch some time in February which is also when we will probably start the global social movement and the crowdfunding campaign. In anticipation of loads of stuff happening in the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to the HATDeX founding team that will be taking up the task. However, instead of giving you the usual ‘biodata’ which you can read on their linkedin profiles, I’ll introduce everyone from me, personally.

Management Team

Paul Tasker – Chief Executive, HATDeX

The BOSS! Paul has been the Independent Chair of the HAT Research Project Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) for the last 2.5 years. I’ve known Paul since 2007 when he led the S4T programme on behalf of BAE Systems when he was there. Paul had a huge role to play in getting me involved in Engineering and has been a great fan of the HAT from the beginning. I was really surprised that he was willing to come out of ‘retirement’ to lead the HATDeX team – and we can’t be in better hands.  Paul’s  experience in the corporate world as well as in bridging academic and industry initiatives is his biggest asset. He has the maturity and experience to talk HAT with policymakers in government, as well as with senior industry professionals, a suitable projection of HATDeX as an ‘adult’ startup ;p. Paul’s biggest task is to lead us all – which isn’t easy  mind you, when you have academics like me that tends to stray and play in all directions. Which is why he constantly gives  me a hard time – and I am very grateful for his leadership.

Dr Xiao Ma – Chief Technology Officer, HATDeX

The technological jigsaw master! How does the technology come together with the business, the social, the research and the commercial? Xiao, who is also a post-doc (Senior Research Fellow)  at Warwick manages all that, making sure that they are well integrated into the plan for the research and the roll-out. And because he can see the picture of how technology works with business and research? He is extremely good at acquiring and juggling resources so that the tech team and I get to do what we have to do! Xiao is a Computer Scientist with a PhD in engineering, specialising in ontology engineering. He’s the first person to see if you want to understand the interface between tech, research and business. He was a technology transfer specialist, specialising in technology management so he can see where everything fits. More important, Xiao, Andrius and I are able to work really well on an ‘Agile’ basis (which is code word for changing things all the time. Paul thinks we do it just to annoy him ;)).

From 30 Nov, Xiao will be dividing his time between HARRIET and HATDeX.

Dr Andrius Aucinas – Head of Engineering, HATDeX2015-10-22 12.16.04

What can I say about Andrius except that he’s a postdoc working with me, and (1) he’s been coding since 11 years old; (2) he recently graduated with a PhD in Computer Science under Prof Jon Crowcroft (our HAT Co-I);  (3) he technically operationalised the vision of the HAT since the first ‘strawman’ schema that I created with the help of HAT Researcher Laura Phillips and later with Xiao; (4) he’s spent many many many hours in my house discussing every aspect of the HAT, its schema and its ‘boundaries’ between tech, business model and behaviours to fin tune further the operationalisation of the schema and the logic (my daughters now call him their foster brother); (5) he has been reasonably well-fed by hubby and well imbibed with alcohol from me; (6) he’s mobilised a very talented tech team to build the HAT; (7) he’s had very little sleep in the last 6 months; (8) he’s brilliant.

From 30 Nov, Andrius will be dividing his time between HARRIET and HATDeX.

Me, Professor Irene Ng – Chief Strategist/Economist and Chairman of HATDeX

I am the architect, the designer of the economic system which comprises of the market as well as the many different economic models, business models, market configurations globally and these configurations directly interact with the way the technology is designed (e.g. in app revenues, plugins etc.) so the design is very much to do with the interface of technology/business/behaviours. My job is to make sure that incentives are aligned within the system, that the system is self-regulating, self-reinforcing and will generate positive network effects by itself so that I don’t have to work that hard (I’m lazy that way). My academic credentials are of course as an Industrial/Business Economist in Marketing/Markets for my PhD. I have published widely in economics, sociology, marketing, management and operations literature. Did Physics/Applied Physics/Comp Programming for my undergrad,  RDBMS programmer for many years, Chartered Secretary for 15 years, Entrepreneur for 15 years, Academic for 15 years etc. etc. so I am comfortable with having both a startup and an academic hat (sorry, bad pun ;)). I am also the Chairman of the board, so my main job is to represent community and shareholder interests on the HATDeX board.

From 16 Feb (expected launch of the global campaign and HATDeX), I will go down to 4 days a week for my academic job and will serve 1 day a week at HATDeX.

HATDeX Non-Exec Directors and Advisors

Roger, Glenn, Jon and Mark are part of our Founding team as Advisors and Non-exec Directors of HATDeX. We are beholden to them for advice, ideas, support, cautionary tales, gossip, beer and wine. Having been involved in the HAT project, their experience in the different parts of the HAT initiative have been extensive. They are our evangelists, our champions and the sounding board for our plans. For myself, I have had the  benefit of their expertise all through the project, even if it meant I had to accost them at pubs. I look forward to accosting them some more when I need help (which is likely to be 2015-10-22 12.41.47often).

Professor Roger Maull – Systems, Operations, Business Models, Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, everything business

Dr Glenn Parry – Supply Chains, Business Models, Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, everything business

Professor Jon Crowcroft  – IoT, Networks, Security, everything computing

Professor Mark Skilton – Data, security, standards, compliance, certification, everything compliance and standards

HAT Community Foundation

As part of the HAT Foundation, the HAT Community Foundation (HCF) will also be set up as a company limited by guarantee, and would be applying for a Charity status. The HCF has the job of governing HATDeX, to ensure that the social entrepreneurship governance mechanisms are in place for the HAT community. It owns one golden share of HATDeX and will receive 20% of HATDeX dividend for its activities, principal of which is to further Research and Innovation on the HAT in partnership with WMG, University of Warwick.

Founding team

Professor Roger Maull – Chairman, HCF

I am very pleased that Roger has accepted the role of the Chairman of HCF. As colleagues at Exeter and even after he moved on to University of Surrey and co-founded the Centre for Digital Economy, Roger and I have worked together on many projects and papers and was a co-Investigator on the HAT research project. Despite his busy schedule, he has agreed to take on this role. Roger’s heart is in the community. Even from the start of the project, he has had great interest in collaborative consumption and the role of the HAT in building up social communities (See his video here). With him chairing the HCF, I am very assured that the HCF would go places and community interests will always be upheld.

Non-exec Directors and Advisors

I am very pleased that two members of my team at WMG have also agreed to be the founding directors of HCF. Together with Roger, they will make a formidable team for the HCF.

Dr Ganna Pogrebna – Ganna heads up the HARRIET project and would represent WMG and the University of Warwick interest in the HCF, as its research partner.

Peter Ward Peter was the HAT program manager and has had to manage the motley HAT gang for the last 2 years! Peter will provide HCF with continuity from the HAT research project, and will also represent development and innovation interest on HCF.

HCF expects to appoint further non-exec Directors and Advisors, so stay tuned. This blogpost marks the official handover of entrepreneurial activities to the leadership of our HATDeX Chief Executive and interim HCF Chief Executive, Paul Tasker. Paul will provide updates on the HAT Foundation in the future; read his first blogpost here.


The HAT: Looking back and forward

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THE HAT: Looking Back and Forward

So we are done… A total of 2.5 years in active work with preparations happening long before we got funded (we were funded on our third attempt). A total of £1.2m spent on a project to engineer and design a multi-sided market for personal data. The HAT.

I thought I’ll pen some of my reflections here. Many of my thoughts I’ve kept to myself all through the project because (1) I wanted to keep the spirits up, and the motivations strong for the team; (2) I didn’t want to alarm anyone;  (3) some of the interdisciplinary challenges were really challenging aka I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER STOP ASKING ME; and (4) it’s wrong to swear inappropriately.

First meeting of the HAT Research team: May 2013

But seriously. We are done, the £1.2m RCUK HAT research project, that is. And I think we have done what a research project is supposed to deliver, although I don’t think even the RCUK would know what a social science project on multi-sided markets and its economic/business models should deliver except the usual publications etc. etc. I mean, this isn’t a tech project so it’s not meant to deliver a ‘thing’. But we have always intended to deliver anyway, just not a ‘thing’, but a market. In the end, we came close, but not quite. Everything is built and in place for the market. Alpha HATs are out (see blogpost here) and there will be 50 people exchanging data and playing with their HATs. Whether it’s sustainable, scalable and would take off, well now, that’s not the scope of a research project. That is the scope of entrepreneurial activity.

Of course, the ambition is much greater than what we were tasked to deliver, so RCUK should be really happy because we had a great team of researchers who worked beyond their call of duty (and certainly beyond the time costs stated) to achieve something that is hard, but needed to be done.

1st Mad Hatters’ Tea Party: July 2014

Publications-wise, the team has issued six Briefing Papers and numerous publications – the briefing papers are not credited to specific authors as they were a collective effort and completely without copyright, so they are not just for the community to read and understand, but for researchers on the HAT to take on the content and use as they please for their own publications; it’s ‘open source’ that way. On top of the briefing papers, I am really pleased to say that many of the team have published extensively in really good journals across disciplines. I always think that an interdisciplinary project is only successful if all of the academics contributed back to their mother disciplines. For a list of our outputs – please check them out here. More are in the pipeline though, so stay in touch!

Impact-wise, we’ve certainly ticked the boxes. The HAT Foundation has started (read blogpost here) and will be taking over from the HAT research project team on the roll-out side of things. WMG, University of Warwick has in-principle granted approval to gift the HAT software IPs to the HAT Foundation. The HAT database schema and logic itself have been released under a Creative Commons license as agreed through the six-university collaborative agreement. If HATs become ubiquitous, our impact case study for the next REF would be awesome.

First meeting of the HAT Research team: May 2013

I would really like to thank all the researchers and professional staff for their contributions to the project – we couldn’t have done this without all of you. Special thanks to HAT Program Manager Peter Ward, Business Development Manager Chris Brown, HAT Comms Manager Yin Lim and HAT Administrator Vivienne Tsimbili  who worked hard to keep it all together. Also to Warwick Tech team Xiao Ma, Martin Talbot, Nabeel Shaikh and Andrius Aucinas, the Cambridge team Jon Crowcroft and Helen Oliver, the Edinburgh team Chris Speed and Chris Barker, the Nottingham team who instrumented and started the project Tom Rodden, Ewa Luger and Peter Tolmie, as well as the Business/Economics team of Roger Maull, Laura Phillips, Glenn Parry, Kim Scharf, Ganna Pogrebna, Mark Skilton and Susan Wakenshaw. Also our overseas research team of Jennifer Chandler, Melissa Akaka, Illias Danatzis and Caroline Wernicke, coordinated by David Reynolds. You have all been wonderful and deserve a good pat on the back for a job well done.

A special mention to my co-Is Glenn Parry and Roger Maull – if I counted how many hours we discussed how a shower should be instrumented for what data, what decision and what behaviour, I think we probably have exceeded our RCUK-funded time. It was fun and it was certainly productive, as we’ve written papers on showers and toilet roll usage! I also remember the moment when we moved up from focusing on HAT as an M2M hub for IoT to HAT as a data hub for IoT. That was around the third month. It was quite an epiphany because it was the realisation that the individual would never be a co-creator of value in IoT as long as we talked about IoT at the machine level. It was only at the data level that the individual could fully participate and create value in the ecosystem. That was certainly a milestone for me and we never looked back. Of course, once that was decided, we moved into Information Systems instead of staying at the computing/ECE level and I am grateful to Jon Crowcroft for his flexibility and his immense breadth of knowledge. Designing something that crosses IT, IS, Business, Human Behaviours and Markets was never going to be easy and I depended on my co-Is’ ability to live with A LOT of uncertainty and ambiguity before design decisions on the proposed economic and business models were made. And I am also grateful to Mark Skilton for stepping in when he did, to lead all the standards, certification and compliance work. What would we do without all of you 🙂

Guests and participants at the 2nd Mad Hatters' Tea Party
At the 2nd Mad Hatters’ Tea Party: Oct 2014

Special thanks to our Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) too – and Paul Tasker as our IAB Chair.You’ve been so patient with us when we were muddling through some of the economic, business and market issues in the project. It is always a challenge with advisory boards of economic and business model projects because its not about the tech but about the business, so at times it wasn’t clear what the IAB was asked to advise on. Yet, I have found the IAB really helpful to solidify our thinking on the HAT economic and market model. Thank you, board members and Paul.

Now to talk about LOOKING FORWARD

Did I say the HAT Research project is over? Oh no, it’s not. IT’S NEVER OVER! mwahahahaha…..  This is what happens when you make it a personal mission. There is still much more to be done.

The HAT Research project now branches into TWO – the RESEARCH team carries on with HARRIET/HAT Research activities, while the ENTREPRENEURIAL team carries on with HAT Foundation. What does that mean?

Well, the HAT is done and relatively stable now. The latest Alpha release is here and we are now focusing on two things. First, the global roll-ou through the entrepreneurial project and second, continuing the interesting research USING the HAT through a few other research projects.

Read about the RESEARCH continuing here

Read about the ENTREPREUNEURIAL activity here

They are both interlinked – so make sure you read them both!


Enter the HAT Foundation

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Enter the HAT Foundation canstockphoto11877742

It’s a very busy time for us in the HAT team as the HAT research project winds down and a new chapter opens – the HAT Foundation!
We are in the midst of going through all the red tape and documentation necessary to start this off. If you wish to know more about the what, why and hows of the HAT Foundation, download and read the HAT Briefing Paper 5. Do also read this earlier blogpost about the need for a collective such as the Foundation.
Also, as we will soon be morphing into the HAT Foundation, there will be a need to  re-do websites etc. Don’t worry – all our papers, blogs etc. will still be here – this website is a useful repository of the research!
Make sure you like our Facebook page and sign up onto our mailing list so that you are updated on the latest news on the HAT and the big social movement coming up!
And do have a look at the presentation slides from my HAT lecture on Nov 5, 2015 – The HAT ( Research Insights, the Present & the Future of the Personal Data Economy  as this will give you a taste of what’s to come!

HATDeX & the HAT: A New Collective

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HATDeX & the HAT: A New Collective


As individuals, we have been called so many words. Consumers. Citizens. Members. Society.

Our individual voices are usually drowned out by the need to have a collective voice, usually for the sake of representation. To obtain some measure of power, therefore, we must reconcile all our disparate views and achieve consensus so that the collective voice can be heard

Alas, this often results in the collective representative being more powerful, rather than the individuals themselves. Of course, if the collective misbehaves, we remove them as our representatives and replace them with new ones, but the inherent problem is that we cannot represent ourselves. There are too many of us. The very reason we have power (high numbers) is why we cannot have individual voices (too varied).

And so our collectives have operated in this manner for years and years. Be they our union, our cooperative, our consumer society, our government or our local council. And as our representative they have made decisions for our good. I am assuming, of course, that our collectives are effective. Notwithstanding the effectiveness of our collective, the mere act of being a collective means that as individuals, we often lack choices. Variety cannot be accommodated because it is too costly. And it is too costly because of two major factors – heterogeneity and coordination.

Here is my simplified version of the current debate between the political left and right, a false dichotomy in my opinion. If I defer to my collective (government, union etc.), I will be robbed of choice but I’ll probably be ‘protected’ and in deferring to their decisions, I serve a larger good of social justice which of course is dependent on how good the collective is. Efficiency is not a performance indicator of the collective so usually collectives get fat, even if they are effective. Regardless, the collective will always rob me of choices.

On the other hand, if I defer to the market, I will have plenty of choices, but I’ll probably be more vulnerable to externalities i.e. side effects that may be detrimental to me in the long run. I will eat too much sugar, my data would be compromised, the rich gets richer, the poor and the young become marginalised etc. and society doesn’t get to be nice to live in.


A New Type of Collective

This dichotomy is false, in my opinion, because technology has changed the game. With technology, coordination costs between individuals have plummeted. A piece of software can now help match those who need a taxi with those who have a car and are willing to provide a service. Seeking an opinion on the quality of a product is now easy on a website with a rating system provided by those who have bought the same item previously.

With lower coordination costs, should our collectives change? Could we not better organise, coordinate and regulate ourselves? Why are our collectives still making so many decisions for us? Can we not have more degrees of freedom? Can our decisions not be contextual and situational rather than having to be consistent and the same?

A new kind of collective is needed, in my opinion. One that uses the market to maximise choice and regulate the side effects that comes out of it. This is not the ‘centre’ ground that many speak of. The Centre (or recently called Middle England) is often a difficult conciliation where both sides are unhappy, and it is often forged without any consistency in idealogy. At worst it is a nasty sort of compromise for the sake of getting things done when the set-up for both the left and the right have been flawed from the beginning.

No, my idea of a new type of collective is one where individuals could be self-organising, self-regulating and have more choices, but it is one that is also tempered by a regulator that is incentivised by more choices for us as well as growing trust in the system. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system that builds more trust rather than the ones we now have that serve to constantly erode it? It is one of the reason that we have put so much thought into designing the HAT ecosystem, probably to our peril, since it could all be brought down by being too ambitious. Fine, we say to the naysayers. If we have to fail, let’s fail quickly and try again. It is a research project after all. Even if it is going out in a ‘live’ environment.

So how is the HAT ecosystem designed to work?

Well, we know that technology has brought down coordination costs but it hasn’t really benefited us as individuals, except as a side effect. The smartphone is an example. We don’t really pay for better coordination between our friends and ourselves and better information planning, which is what the smartphone affords. No company really made any money from the fact that I can organise better. It is an externality of buying broadband, a device, socialising on the network and using our data for functionalities such as emails and calendars. So being able to coordinate better between ourselves is very much a side effect.

Where there is real profit from coordination, firms have stepped in. So Uber, AirBnB, Amazon have seized on vertical ‘silo-ed’ coordination issues and profited merrily from putting us together and matching us with firms that have stuff to sell us. We do need to go onto their platform to get the benefit though. Amongst ourselves, however, we just don’t have the capability. From a data perspective, we can’t effectively broker, exchange or monetise our data to benefit ourselves. This is because we can’t integrate data across the vertical repositories – between, for example, our diary, messaging, location, finances or consumption – with applicable service timetables or catalogues. Also, firms and other organisations are unable to offer us personalised product or service offerings if they can’t really understand our needs, and the contexts of our consumption.

Perhaps it’s time to change that. It’s time to have a personal resource planning platform that leverages on our own data and third party data to make our lives better, to have heterogeneous voices heard even if this is through a standardised platform. Lets break down this myth that scalability is only possible if we give up personalisation.


Regaining Control with the HAT

Let’s regain control and put ourselves, as individuals, at the hub of all things: The HAT, a multi-sided market platform for data by way of a micro-cloud server that takes data from the Internet and IoT-connected services and devices.

The HAT platform consists of a database schema, a data logic layer and APIs within a trust framework that enables individuals to contain, flatten, bundle and exchange all types of personal data. This in turn allows personal data to be contextualised and bundled, or integrated with other datasets in a way that is privacy-preserving and controlled by the user, so that smart individuals can benefit from crowd-sourced information and better informed decision-making. Equally, the HAT gives firms the ability to receive and process personal data from individuals (voluntarily generated) and potentially to share their own proprietary information with the individuals, for better personalisation of their offerings. (Read our HAT Tech Briefing Paper for further detail on how all this works).

We hope the HAT will become the basis for new economic and business models in the era of the IoT. In Nov 2015, the alpha release HAT will be available to individuals and organisations on a freemium basis, enabling new economic models based on data exchanges. HATs and initial applications will also be available from HAT Platform Providers (HPPs), the first two of which are Enable iD in the UK and Europe, and Noggin Pte Ltd in Singapore. We anticipate that network effects will quickly develop and we look forward to new markets being driven by 100s millions of HATs in use before 2020.

The overarching principle for the HAT eco-system is that commercial organisations will collaborate with HPPs who host the HAT micro-cloud servers and with HAT App Developers (HAPs) to make platforms and apps available to individuals. These members of the HAT community will generate revenue by either buying personal data or providing personalised goods and services (eg customised healthcare and wellbeing) in exchange for data, or they will just sell applications for the user to view, analyse and use their own data privately without sharing. HPPs integrate third-party data sets and provide intermediary data services to the wider community of firms.


The HAT Foundation


The HAT Foundation is being established as a social enterprise to nurture and regulate the eco-system, allowing use and exchange of personal information in a controlled environment subject to clearly-defined Codes of Practice. The HAT Foundation will also maintain the principle of a an open-sourced Creative Commons licensed model for the underlying “HAT technology”, encouraging continuous development and improvement by the user community.

The HAT Foundation is positioned as a form of exchange (similar to a securities exchange) that provides regulatory rules and services for personal data (and other related personal data instruments) to be traded in the HAT ecosystem. It is the foundation for the HAT ecosystem to oversee and regulate provision of HATs and HAT Applications from HPPs and HAPs.  

In order to regulate the eco-system for privacy, confidentiality, security and trust (PCST) and the exchange of both financial and “data instruments”, the HAT Foundation will certify and licence HPPs and HAPs to provide assurance that platforms and apps are compliant with “HAT standards” and that their use will comply with the exchange Codes of Practice.

Hence the HAT Foundation’s role is to nurture this personal data exchange eco-system and to act as a regulator for HPPS and HAPs worldwide. 

We believe the HAT offers an exciting value proposition, as there is currently no known personal data container that can flatten data to enable its contextualisation and bundling necessary to support markets based on the exchange of contextualised data. This uniqueness can only be enhanced by the existence of the HAT Foundation in playing a crucial regulatory and nurturing role in order to continue developing the HAT concept and technology.


Main image courtesy of Baitong333 at


HAT Tech Briefing Paper: A Consultation

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Tech Briefing Paper: A Consultation

As we approach the impending rollout of the HAT towards the year-end, the HAT Project Team has put together a briefing paper to articulate the substantial tech work behind the HAT personal data ecosystem and the multi-sided market platform for personal data.

This briefing paper, which contains a high-level description of the (personal) HAT technical architecture, is now open for consultation. We would appreciate your feedback on this paper, which you can provide in the comment box below. Please share this post widely.


Download “HAT Briefing Paper 4: HAT Personal Data Exchange Ecosystem: Technology Architecture” briefingpaper4_final1.1.pdf – Downloaded 2640 times – 16 MB

Me, Inc. as a HAT

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Me, Inc. as a HAT


[This blog post has been updated on the 2 Nov with new content in red italics]

Today’s corporations use IT to be incredibly efficient and effective. There are IT systems for finance, accounting, inventory management, supply chains, material and enterprise resource planning. All the tools necessary for the corporation be viable and profitable amid constraints of regulation. Corporations hold vast amounts of data to achieve this;  data about production, materials, inventory, data about customers. In fact, nothing can be achieved within the modern corporation today without data and information. The corporation is also able to buy digital services of all sorts to analyse, process and make decisions from the data, be it to sort out accounting systems to managing HR. Indeed, many corporations outsource and buy in capabilities that are not core to their competencies.

Today’s individuals  also use IT to be efficient and effective. Aided by the Internet, www and our smartphones, we can organise our lives and our families, work from home, have information access at our fingertips. But in terms of computational capability, data and our ability to buy digital services, we are very far behind the corporation. Where they have data on inventory, we barely know what is in our cupboards and fridges. Where they can buy services that augment their abilities, we can just about buy a translator, maps, currency exchange. Where corporations can be omniscient through their devices and sensors, we can just about put up a camera to check on our house remotely.

The market doesn’t seem to work in our favour as individuals. More firms are coming into the digital space to share our data amongst one another, asking us for our permission to do so but the revenue models are usually ad-driven or worse, they sell our data, albeit anonymised, to other firms. We are starting to use our Facebook or Twitter identity data to sign on to other digital services and allowing Whatsapp or LinkedIn to tap into our contact list. Essentially, as more digital applications proliferate, the more we are being harvested for our data and the more we are being sold advertising. Three factors contribute to this:

  • First, we often place little value on our own data, and are prepared to sign them away for the simplest service e.g. the way we give away browser cookies to peruse a website. It is as though the corporations out there consider our data precious but because we don’t have any use of the data for ourselves, we have little regard for it.
  • Second, we also don’t have the computational or system capability to use our data. We don’t have a software platform that enables better wellbeing as well as integrates different data in the way that corporations do. Firms can buy software platforms for enterprise planning, organising and coordinating but we can’t. In addition, human beings use data quite differently from corporations. We cluster data and usage of objects according to our day-to day-contexts. Data from Tesco shopping, car journeys and school pickup are bundled together more meaningfully as a “mummy run” context compared to considering the data in the grocery, automotive and education vertical sectors.
  • Third, there isn’t any legislation out there that protects personal data currently, in terms of privacy and confidentiality (there are some around security, though). Countries are trying, but its not here yet. The challenge is also the trade-offs of privacy/confidentiality versus being innovation/market friendly. With big data creating new markets, we are already seeing governments unwilling to legislate privacy/confidentiality for fear of not benefiting on the ‘big data economy’ or ‘IoT economy’.

So how do we square this? Within the HAT project team, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about personal data and we are aware of the laudable efforts of the Digital Catapult to create a framework to ensure privacy, security, confidentiality and trust for personal data. When it is ready, we would certainly buy in to such a framework. Meanwhile, we are taking a much faster route.

Making ‘Corporations’ out of Everyone

If corporations have so much computational powers and the ability to buy services, use data effectively and have rights to keep their own data private, then why don’t we just make a corporation out of everyone? Why can’t each person have a server identity, much like an online shop is a server? If our relationship with our host provider is the same type of relationship between Tesco and their server hosting provider, it would certainly be more equitable, as I assume that the host provider would not have a right to poke around Tesco’s data. More importantly, if I decide to change hosts, I can move all my data to a different host. Essentially, I can be my own ‘corporation’ with my own ‘personal resource planning’ platform with inventory of my stuff, data about my health, wellbeing, etc. In fact, if I have the HAT, there would be an easy way to buy apps to view, analyse, and organise my data.

As we begin the alpha release of the HAT in November/December to our experimental group of 100 users, and later on to a wider community, I am mindful of the implications if we truly succeed with this. If we do succeed, we would essentially be looking at potentially half a billion people being ‘corporatised’ in a way when they sign on to get their own HATs. And as they do so, they will be empowered to store, analyse and manage their data like they have never been able to do so before.  More importantly, they will be able to speak to corporations ‘server-to-server’, API to API, leveraging on a legal framework that binds firm-to-firm relationships in far more equitable way than firm-to-consumer relationships. Some individuals may decide to bring emails back to their own server, since the ontology of the HAT schema flattens data and therefore can help combine email data with other data for better planning, searching and organising. It feels terribly powerful to have your own server, even if what you have to organise is only your own data. But the platform would certainly be attractive to developers who can create better applications to help us view, analyse, track and organise our own data that could be combined with third party datasets for better matching or recommendation services.

The amazing thing about the HAT is that as a server, you can also share your data in a “peer-to-peer” manner. This means I can share my location on a realtime basis (e.g. My iPhone location data) with my husband so that when he pulls out his HAT, he can see my location that is shared with him and it’s no one’s business except ours. And the apps I buy to view, analyse and organise my data would not have access to the data itself; it is akin to me buying a piece of software in the old days and installing it on a PC not connected to the Internet. But if I do want to share it, I can just create a data debit (which is the way all HAT data leaves the HAT) and share it with whomever I please. Such is the HAT. A personal resource planning system for the individual. Finally.


A Level Playing Field

Even as we get ready to release the HAT over the next six months, I have not missed the irony that the way we have engineered the personal data ecosystem to give control and empowerment back to the individual is to make us look like firms. Turning ourselves into a mirror image of the firm’s digital presence might finally get us respect and fair treatment, within the prevailing legal framework governing business-to-business relationships rather than being treated as passive consumers being harvested for our data. There is a reason why we are thinking like this. Without legislation for privacy and confidentiality (and one could argue it is probably impossible to legislate in a way that doesn’t dampen innovation or markets), making an individual a ‘corporation’ of sorts essentially mean that we will move personal data access and ownership into the realm of private contracts. After all, corporations have more rights over their data than we have over our own data, so we might as well be ‘corporations’ to secure the same rights. And since the economy matters so much to governments to the extent that individual rights can be trampled over in the name of the ‘big data’ economy, lets bring the game to the same level playing field by giving every HAT user the same ‘corporate’ rights as every company. Perhaps. Wouldn’t it be funny to have Amazon concerned about their data being harvested when they come to the HAT platform to provide buying recommendations? But it’s ok. It’s all API to API, so everyone would share exactly what they are willing to share. Such is the equitability of a B2B system and a world of private contracts. See my other blogpost of how this might lead to a new collective.

I believe we have one chance, and the timing is now, at the cusp when the two major industries of manufacturing is colliding with the Internet through the Internet-of-Things. It is now that we can jump in and introduce a system that brings back control to the individual, give us more rights over our personal data, in a way that is innovation- and economy-friendly. And we will need courage. From firms, government and individuals who will back our revolution to reclaim our own data and control when the time comes to launch the HAT initiative publicly in the next few months.

And what of democracy then, when this server that is the augmented and amplified us, is able to interact with governments and firms on a more level playing field? Would we finally get more collective power as a society through better coordination, better collaborative consumption through a standardised platform that is scalable for apps to interact with and yet is uniquely personal to us as individuals with our own data? We wait to see. I have spent more than 20 years helping firms with value, worth, service and their business/economic models to generate more profits. Seems helping individuals to be ‘firm’-like could be a win-win for all with better control for individuals, and yet by being innovation-friendly, this can help create more jobs and greater opportunities in the digital economy.

Finally, if this is truly successful, I am also mindful of the divide between those who can afford an augmented and amplified self through a server and those who cannot, which could potentially create a bigger divide between the haves and have-nots. As such, the HAT should be available free of charge, up to a degree of storage and depending on who you choose as your HAT host, much like the www is free. Yet, the asset of our own HAT is to have more of our own data in it so that it can be leveraged for services and exchanges. If the wellbeing of society is at stake, then it is in our interest to ensure that everyone, young or old, rich or poor, be given a HAT. Fortunately, the entire ontology, schema and database  of the HAT is open-sourced and free for anyone to innovate on. Although if you are a user and do not want to build your own software, you might prefer to just get it off a HAT platform host. In the UK, this would be through EnableID  and in Singapore, through Noggin Asia.  More HAT platform hosts are coming soon in other countries so do watch this space.

To be one of the first to get a HAT, sign up here.

Watch out for the HAT white paper on “Why Everyone Should Have a HAT: Implications for Government, Industry and Society”, soon to be released end of the year 2015.

And do sign up to be kept informed on the HAT release activities.


The HAT Hyperdata Browser

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The HAT Hyperdata Browser


The HAT hyperdata browser


I’m starting this blogpost with a story, so that you understand why we do what we do. But before the story, here’s some background.

There is a theory in sociology called structuration theory, formed by Giddens. In a nutshell, structures, like columns and doors (physical structures) both enable and disable practices. It tells us where to walk (doorway) but it tells us where you cannot walk (no doorway). Structures can be social as well, and these are the social norms we live by, such as eating with chopsticks, shaking hands, social norms that generally dictate what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour.

The way I teach structures and its application in innovation is to illustrate it with a story.

Imagine a vast field that separates a road from a village. There are no paths on the field and by the nature of not having a path, people are reluctant to walk across, going round it instead. The inertia to create a path is high and the uncertainty of what might be the right path, or the most suitable path is in question as there is no guide. So it’s easier to go around. This illustrates that without structure, often the result is that of no action (no one crosses the field). Innovating something completely new is a bit like that.

Let’s now assume some innovative person actually creates a path. A curvy path across the field that doesn’t go straight across but takes a more roundabout way. Immediately, everyone uses it as it is the most efficient way to get to the village (faster than getting around it). However, it becomes clear that since this path is not the most efficient path, there are many critics. People will complain about its inefficiency and how a more efficient path would be better and after awhile, you will see a path that goes directly to the village emerge from this path. This means that incremental innovation is easier, because there is a guide on what is incremental.

How is this relevant to the HAT? Some of you know that the HAT is not just a data repository. The HAT has a schema that liberates the data from its vertical structures. The intent is that human lives are lived across vertical industries so for the HAT to be useful for human lives, the data has to be liberated so that horizontal bundles can be created. For example, you might bring your email data into the HAT and it just becomes [from (Person), to (person), date, subject (text) and content (text)] just as bringing Fitbit data coming into the HAT to become [pulse (number), steps (number), date, time, calories (number)] and the phone data can come in as [call from (person), call to (person), location, time]. Once these data in their vertical structures are liberated and become ‘flattened’, they can be linked by time, by person, by location and by the sensor (measurement) in new mashups and new ‘horizontal’ bundles to help serve the person and create new services around personal data. So you can perhaps bundle all interactions with your spouse (By person) whether it is a calendar entry or a phone call or even a photograph. You can link location, thing, sensor (like content or images or temperatures), time and multiple persons in all sorts of new ways and these links are established by you in a way that is meaningful to you (hence, the HAT allows you to contextualise and create your own bundles of data). New apps could be created around liberated personal data bundled in all sorts of ways.

The issue, of course is that once you liberate the data, you get loads and loads of data around all our interactions but how do you ‘see’ it? Vertical structures of data not just organise the data, but also allow you to view it in a certain way. So an email looks like … Er… email, your Spotify account looks like a music browser/player, and your smart home has a dashboard for the controls of the home. Once they are ‘flattened’, and are able to be linked and cross referenced by location, time, thing, sensor and person, the possibilities of viewing it in so many ways are limitless, much like the number of possibilities of paths across the field is limitless.

What is the best way of viewing the ‘flattened’ data? Like the path across the field, we don’t know what is the best way, but we do know that if we provide one way (ie a path), there will be many others who can suggest a better way. And if there are many ways, the best way will prevail. There is some history to this. When the World Wide Web first came to existence, this was how the first website looked like. Like the www and hypertext links and the onset of browsers to make sense of a world of texts and images on servers everywhere, we now have to create the  first ‘hyperdata’ browser for HAT data and expect that there will be many out there who will do a much better job at it. And from the hyperdata browser, creativity will hopefully kick in and new mashups and apps around our different types of personal data will occur. Note that this is the browser based on what the individual can see of his own data and the data shared with him by others. It cannot be seen by anyone else. There will be other external type browsers out there based on data the user is willing to share. But the www takes care of that 😉


 Screenshots of the Fibaro iPad app from the home of a digital person zero (DP0) who has donated the data to the HATThe HAT team gratefully acknowledges the DP0 and family for their support and cooperation. All sensors and connected devices in the DP0’s home have been sponsored by Fibaro and DP0 personal funds and not paid for through HAT project funds. The HAT team thanks Fibaro for their support of the project.


So here’s our first attempt at a personal ‘hyperdata’ browser based on flattened HAT data of one Digital person zero (DP0) who has donated data to the HAT project. Many thanks to Fibaro (our smart home partner) data on the HAT, the Beauty Box and toilet roll devices created by the HAT Cambridge and Edinburgh teams respectively, here is a sample HAT data that you can play with. There are a few mashups already created from it. More will follow. Fitbit, Facebook, Google Calendar and Withings data coming into this HAT will be coming up soon, so remember to bookmark the site.

HAT hyperdata browser:

(Take note that the HAT hyperdata browser is part of the HAT economic and business models research project. And it’s a work in progress on playing with data, views, bundles, mashups so don’t expect it to work well ;)).  Our HAT platform providers (HPPs) Enable iD and Noggin (see press release) will have their own interfaces and user experiences for their own roll-outs. As they are in the live market and commercial spaces, their HAT user experience will certainly be more slick than ours! Check their websites when they begin to roll out HATs later this year and don’t forget to sign up for the first one million unique IDs when they are released to the HPPs!)

Can you think of new mashups (contexts) around the flattened and liberated HAT personal data and new services and business models  to help us co-create value with our data that will help us in daily lives? And also to share with others for cool apps? Post your comments below!

The HAT Beauty Box, which collects data on the use of personal products in the home
The HAT Beauty Box, which collects data on the use of personal products in the home
The HAT's instrumented toilet roll holder
The HAT’s instrumented toilet roll holder

Thinking and Designing in the Meta

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Thinking and Designing in the Meta

symphony-orchestra-183608_640It’s 0527am and I’m awake. And exhausted. The mind has been working all night trying to come up with solutions for the design of views on the HAT that would help a user to be creative with his/her own data. A long meeting with the tech team yesterday has basically got some of the technical stuff down, so that the data that comes onto the HAT has the greatest agility to be shaped into different uses.

Too abstract? Ok, so let me rewind. We are now in the world where data sits as a consequence of a service provided. So your calendar’s data is part of Google Calendar service. Your photos are part of the service of a phone, your social interactions’ data sits on Facebook as part of their service. There are two consequences of this.

One is what we have already talked about – that we don’t currently own it or have access to our data. Which is why we’re building the HAT, so that we can acquire all these data (through open APIs) back into our own HAT so that we can make use of it. The second consequence is our mental models and structures. We are now trapped in a world where data makes sense only through the vertical services rendered. It’s like a house makes sense if there are rooms – dining room, living room, kitchen – because activities happen in those rooms and the house makes sense. If suddenly, I give you a blank house without rooms and say: let’s reorganise and recompartmentalise because technology now offers new ways to act and interact, you might not know where to start (for those interested, you can read up on Giddens’ structuration theory).

So it is with data. We are used to data sitting in verticals, so we organise our lives around this (often not very efficiently). But when the HAT comes along, it would not just let you acquire your data into a space; it liberates it from its vertical structures. Imagine every photo, every message, every transaction, every data collected about you is now in one space and you can mash them up in completely new ways. You can create a whole new symphony of data with mashups that helps you make better decisions, gives you better recall (see our DARVIS model to understand how data can be a really very intelligent service). And when you run out of ideas, you can buy new apps or widgets for your own data so literally you can crowdsource creative uses of your own data. Nice, right?

So, you can now read my first paragraph again and see where I am. Technically, we have designed the HAT database schema to be able to mash things up. Data points are tagged by time, location and user so that you can mash up locations with different times and users that your HAT is connected to, mash up data and users in the same time and location …… You get the picture.

It took us some time to get to this point but I’ll spare you the gory details. We got here. My challenge now, is to think of views. Screen views, on phones, iPads or computers. Ways to view this data that can spur creativity. Viewing your data so that you can generate new ways of using it is no easy feat. I showed my daughter one view of mashup data that I had designed, and she thought of something and said: “You need to create a reminder, a prompt, coz when I see that, I suddenly remember something.” So views can trigger different responses, so we should build in the possibility of creating nudges and prompts in the views. Views can clearly do more creatively especially when the data is mashed up, and I’ve been spending days applying some of the thinking in generativity theory here. The challenge is to design views without a purpose except to broaden the mind for new possibilities to co-create value with our own mashup data. I.e. Designing views for new views. Very meta. 🙂

It’s really exciting to see data being liberated this way though, and I can’t wait for the HAT roll-out later this year (if you want a HAT, make sure you’re one of the first million to sign up here). To see ‘my day in data’ from the music I listened to (Spotify), the interactions I had (Facebook) in different locations (phone) and my pulse rate (Fitbit) all mashed up in one view is like creating art with data. Now I just need it to amplify my capability. Where are those HAT new business models and innovation then…. 🙂

The work continues……and do come for a discussion on personal data economy in Venice at our 1st Service Systems Forum. See you in Venice!

HAT Briefing Paper Consultation

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HAT Briefing Paper Consultation

The HAT is a research project on engineering a market for personal data and therefore, designing the economic and business models relevant for this market. As such, we do not have many of the answers.
However, over the course of the research, we have done some substantial work and made decisions so that we can move forward to realising the vision. The work done is now articulated in three briefing papers, which are now open for consultation:



All three papers should be read in sequence for a full understanding of the project.
We would appreciate your feedback on these three papers, which you can provide in the comment box for this post. Specifically, please comment on:
  1. The logic, thought processes and methods used to arrive at the decisions in engineering the market for personal data
  2. What we might have missed, or should include in our decisions for engineering the market
  3. How should we move forward with this
  4. Any other comments on contributions you think would be useful for the team
  5. Where we did a good job, and where you think we can do better.
Consultation for this will end on 15 May 2015. Please share this post widely.