Author: Irene Ng

Press Release: UK and Singapore launch of HAT personal data platform in 2015

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Press Release: UK and Singapore launch of HAT personal data platform in 2015


MON, Nov 24 – The next phase of the Internet’s evolution will be launched in the UK as well as in Singapore in 2015.

Registration for the HAT personal data platform (HATPDP), which allows individuals to collect, use, share and trade their own data amongst themselves and with firms, will be open to residents of these two regions, giving them the opportunity to become the world’s first 1 million HAT beta users.

The HATPDP was demonstrated for the first time at the 2nd Mad Hatters’ Tea Party in London’s Digital Catapult centre today, with the release of the technical specification of the HAT APIs for developers and firms to build applications and devices around the use of personal data (see ‘About the HAT’).

The event also saw the release of the economic model of the HAT ecosystem, and new potential business models for the use of personal data of the future (further details in the ‘About the HAT’ section).

UK launch for the HAT

In 2015, the HAT will first be launched in the Midlands by Enable iD Ltd. Announcing the HAT project’s agreement with Enable iD to become the first HAT Platform Provider (HPP) in Europe, Professor Irene Ng, director of the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation at WMG, University of Warwick and the Lead investigator of the HAT project said:

“We are very pleased to be working with Enable iD to scale up the HAT. We believe that the next stage of the Internet is that of data-driven human decisions enabled by the Internet of Things and data intensive services and we are really pleased that it will begin in the Midlands, the birthplace of the industrial revolution. We think the HAT will create an economic system that is more democratic in terms of data exchanges as well as incentivising more innovation, business opportunities and will create a whole new economy with new jobs and skills”.

Chris Thompson, who will head up Enable iD, cites a singular mission, “To create value by enabling people to securely capture, combine and control their data.” The company will serve manufacturers, brands and organisations, with a focus on creating and connecting ‘smart environments’ that enable individuals to own and effectively trade personal data, in return for a range of lifestyle benefits.

Alongside its launch announcement in London today, Enable iD outlined a mobility-focused initiative in partnership with Centro, Greater Birmingham’s Integrated Transport Authority. Chris Perry, Centro’s Head of Smarter Travel explained, “The proposed pilot is an extension of our Centro’s ‘New Journey’ initiative, engaging a whole range of public and private sector bodies in improving the experience of navigating the region. We see the secure management of peoples journey data as a key element in creating truly passenger-centric smart cities.”

The HAT’s launch in Singapore

Following the HAT’s UK introduction will be its Singapore launch by Noggin Pte Ltd, Asia’s first HAT Platform Provider.

“We are very happy to be the first HAT provider in Asia, and are really keen to see the democratization of data exchanges in this region. This is also in line with Noggin’s objective of creating and nurturing an ecosystem that will give data access to individuals, as well as developers who can create smart apps to help individuals manage and use their data,” Noggin co-founder Lai Chwang Chua said.

Noggin is looking to collaborate with relevant agencies to access vast number of data sets made available by the Singapore government through and one The firm is also promoting the HAT to the largest community of start-ups in Singapore.

“Several start-ups have already committed to participate in the HAT platform as soon as the APIs are available to them. Among them are startups with lifestyle consumption data (events attendance – musical, concerts, etc.) and utility consumption data (household power usage by equipment),”Chua said.

Noggin co-founder Kong Soon Chak added: “As a city state, Singapore will provide an exceptional platform to launch a nationwide HAT initiative. Singapore is building the world’s first Smart Nation, with fuller use of technology to live, work and play, resulting in improved quality of life for individuals; business opportunities for enterprises and an anticipatory government that uses tech to better serve and anticipate citizens’ needs. The HAT is a natural extension of this initiative and strategy.” 

About the HAT

The HAT is the first ever personal data platform (HATPDP) created to hold individuals’ own data for their own personal use. Individuals can acquire their own data from internet-connected objects or services, and this acquired data is then transformed by the HATPDP to enable individuals to contextualise their own data, making it meaningful and useful for decision-making. With that data, individuals can buy apps that allow them to analyse, view, trade or make important decisions based on their own data for a smarter and more effective life.

The HAT is therefore a personal data platform for firms to offer individuals services for their data in a scalable way, yet allowing individuals to personalise the data to their own needs for better decisions in their lives. Most importantly, the HAT and its transformed data is owned by the individual. To understand more about the HAT, view the video at, and the presentation Prezi at

The HAT is analogous to the ‘email’ model. If you have an email account for your emails, you should have a HAT for your data. One can obtain a HAT from a HAT Platform Provider (HPP) who can choose to offer individuals a HAT with other services, much like the way we can choose between email providers today.

For firms, the HATPDP opens up opportunities for exchanges and use of personal data in a way that is privacy preserving. Firms can (1) build smart devices that individuals can control and acquire the data on the device onto their HAT; (2) build smart applications for individuals to make use of their data; or (3) help individuals exchange their data for better buying decisions.

The HAT economic model and eco-system

The HATPDP is managed by the HAT (Hub-of-all-Things) Project, a £1.2m RCUK Digital Economy-funded project involving 6 universities — Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Nottingham, Warwick, West of England — with a community membership of researchers, users, firms, NGOs and government departments. The HAT Project is tasked to engineer a market for personal data. It has a market-making function, and is not a startup.

In June 2015, the HAT Project will become an open-sourced community-led foundation to support the HATPDP installations globally. Each installation is operated by a commercial HAT Platform Provider (HPP) who will provide the HAT to users. Each HPP will create new functionalities and ‘plugins’ for its developer community to build apps on its platform. HPPs will also integrate other datasets (e.g. weather, transportation) that will enable application developers to build better app around open data integrated with private personal data.

To ensure that HPPs and all ecosystem participants comply with privacy practices, the HAT Project will (1) manage the technical specification of inbound and outbound APIs of the HATPDP; (2) manage and validate the apps and devices in the store catalogue; (3) regulate and ensure compliance of the all platform participants to the HATPDP code of practice on privacy, security and confidentiality; (4) regulate and advise on the economic and business models (pricing structures, charge policies, cross-platform financial clearance) of the ecosystem; and (5) provide updates to the platform. Every device or app that connects to the HAT platform has to be validated by the HAT project and is available to all HAT users, regardless of who the HPP is.


Mobile: 07775 927726

About WMG and IIPSI

WMG was founded by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing. From its inception, WMG’s mission has been to improve the competitiveness of organisations through the application of value adding innovation, new technologies and skills deployment, bringing academic rigour to industrial and organisational practice.

Today we are one of the world’s leading research and education groups, with over 500 people working across six buildings on the Warwick campus plus collaborative centres in seven countries.

An Innovation Programme, operating through the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation, encourages SMEs to embrace new technology, processes and ideas to develop new products and services. This is achieved through a range of activities including workshops, technology demonstrations and customised projects.


About Enable iD

Enable iD is a new joint venture between established bespoke software development house, Enable International, Sunday Times TopTrack 250 chief executive Denys C. Shortt OBE and marketing technology specialist Chris Thompson. Enable iD will be the first licensed provider of HAT-enabled products and services in the EU.


About the founder of Enable iD: Denys C. Shortt, OBE

Denys is founder and CEO of DCS Group (UK) Ltd (formerly DCS Europe plc). DCS is a seller and distributor of health, beauty and household brands working through a number of subsidiary companies and based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.

DCS Group UK Ltd has its own brands of beauty products, Enliven and Natural Elements. The brands are exported to 70 countries worldwide. In 2014 DCS was named as a Sunday Times TopTrack 250 Company for the second year running.

About Noggin Pte Ltd

Noggin is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Lai Chwang Chua and Kong Soon Chak, both of whom have vast corporate and entrepreneurial experience in the information technology industry. As Asia’s first HAT Platform Provider, Noggin will be supported by Stream Global, a local venture catalyst which invests in entrepreneurs and technology start-ups with national agencies like National Research Foundation and Media Authority of Singapore.


Mobile: +65 96700708

About the founder of Noggin: Lai Chwang CHUA

Chua has a successful professional career spanning both end-user and vendor IT worlds, playing key contributing roles in the IT transformation initiatives of local and international banks including OUB, Barclays Bank, BII and Maybank. For eight years, Chua ran his own IT business where he built up a strong entrepreneurial business development experience that were subsequently put to good results in Microsoft, Wincor-Nixdorf and CA Technologies.

About the founder of Noggin: Kong Soon CHAK

With a passion for building organisations and nurturing them, Chak has been in the ICT industry for more than 20 years. He was managing partner of Stream Global as well as managing director in Hong Kong-listed company Vanda, responsible for their technology services business. He has mentored Mustard Technology and several other ICT organisations in the region, and is also a Fellow and President of the Singapore Computer Society, a professional body with a 31,000-strong membership.

Sneak Peek at the HAT

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Sneak Peek at the HAT

The HAT begins to move from concept to reality, we are finalising the HAT wireframe UI (user interface) soon. The wireframe will form the visual guide for the HAT (read more about what a wireframe is at:

Here’s a sneak peek:

photo 5 HATUI1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

The HAT Contextualised Life Schema

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HAT Contextualised Life Schema


The HAT Contextualised Life Schema

As human lives become more entangled with technology, we become walking versions of our own ‘big data’. We have digital diaries, we use sat navs, we create lists, we check the weather, monitor our health, the list goes on. For the HAT to be a digital asset of the person, owned by you and used by you, whether to make our lives better or to trade for better discounts for the things we buy, we need a way to organise the data of our lives in a way that we can create meaning from it. Only when we can contextualise our own data and draw meaning from it, would it have value, and in turn, worth (should we wish to trade it).

We have reached a breakthrough this month for the HAT. A ‘straw-man’ version of the quantified life schema has been created. Those not familiar with what a schema is can go to It might still be a little too technical so the best layman description I can give is that our HAT contextualised life schema is a blueprint of how data of your life could be organised so that you can (through buying an app or a service) retrieve it, use it, visualise it and more importantly analyse it so that you can make better decisions. The HAT schema names the full set of parameters of data in our lives and lays out the relationships between the parameters in such a way that it can be contextualised and then used to make our lives more effective and efficient and/or traded for more benefits such as discounts on purchases or better matches of deals with our consumption. As I have iterated in some of my writings, contextualisation is the key to creating worth in data and the HAT is the contextualisation platform for personal and IoT data (see article here – or get the downloadable version).

The business team have spent months on this and the complexity is fourfold.

1. Separating contextual from non-contextual parameters and understanding the relationships between them so that the data can be organised for efficient usage. For example, data on how many toilet rolls in your store cupboard is largely acontextual in experience but data on the amount of toilet roll use in the bathroom is contextual.

2. Understanding the co-creating boundaries between the individual and the entities we interact with in our daily lives so that individuals’ inputs are part of the schema. This is an important part of the HAT schema because, unlike many ‘big data’ projects, the HAT schema is designed to allow for individual input rather than pure third party inference through number crunching. This is based on a ‘smart me’ rather than a ‘smart thing’ philosophy ie the individual is part of the intelligence within the system (my book talks about this) since the individual holds the key to uncertain events, e.g. Instead of ‘big data’ algorithms trying to guess what I am doing based on data, individuals themselves could contextualise their data in the way that is meaningful to them so that the contextualised data is useful later for themselves which, in turn, become useful in transactions. Our research in Service-Dominant Logic ( is applied to realise the schema. For the techies, our approach basically means that instead of a schema for a physical ‘sensor’ network, the individual himself/herself is a sensor, and instead of being outside the system, the individual is part of the system and have inputs into the system, particularly in sense making, intelligence and contextualising. Our schema is a schema of co-creation.

3. Understanding how life is connected through data. How is traffic/navigation data connected to food inventory? Intuitively, we can imagine that if traffic is bad, and we get home late, we might need to cook up something fast so knowing what is in the food cupboard is useful and if we know a key ingredient is not there, we might want to swing into the supermarket which we could be passing by in our car within the next minute. A schema on life must organise the data such that such relationships can manifested and therefore enabling new and innovative apps and objects to be created that would make our lives better and smarter.

4. The markets on the HAT platform. Where is all the data coming from? The HAT platform serves as an engine to convert disparate personal and IoT data into a contextual digital asset for the individual so that individuals can use and trade it. But to get the data, the platform needs to create an input demand market for data to be acquired. So individuals could acquire social data (getting it from social media), things data (from IoT sensors) to personal data (health data from wearables, etc.). The HAT platform therefore lets the individual choose where they acquire their data from to populate their HAT (the input demand market) and who to trade and give their data to (output demand market) to gain benefits for themselves whether it is to analyse, visualise or getting better deals from their data (e.g. matching consumption to purchase). The schema must then decide on which parameters are open to the market (and at which level) so that a multisided market can exist for both inputs and outputs of personal data. For example, we could create a ‘match’ functionality as a service on the platform that matches your food consumption with food deals but in truth, given the many permutations of objects experience, consumption and purchase, there could be many different apps for matching that could exist on the platform so we might then create schema objects that can enable the market for such apps to happen.

At this point, we are very happy to have achieved a breakthrough in the schema and the strawman version of it is being interrogated as we move the schema into user requirements and use cases. Time wise, we expect the software tool kit and API spec (with some sample data) to be released for development around June/July so if you are a developer or a maker of IoT devices/wearables etc. and you wish to contribute your data into the hat space or create apps on the platform, make sure you sign up to this blog!

Cambridge Service Week 2013

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Cambridge Service Week

Presented the H.A.T concept and progress at Cambridge service week conference this week.

Here is the Prezi. For those who didn’t hear the presentation, hope you can understand this.

HAT goes to Brussels

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HAT Goes to Brussels

I’m in Brussels for a discussion on Smarter Data for Europe, a meeting hosted by the British Ambassador to the EU. Personally, I think its just another round of oohs and aahs about big data. I guess i got bored because, on HAT, we are looking towards a future of primary to-be-generated REAL data for the HAT, not the ‘fake’ stuff out there. So when you’re trying to make an existing world obsolete, I have less interest in the existing. But then they will call HAT data big data as well so you can’t win (a bit like the Roman Catholic Church telling atheists they will be redeemed anyway ;))

I did, however, take the opportunity to deliver the HAT pitch during Q&A. Here it is (please use this anytime you want to deliver a HAT elevator pitch)

The UK government has recently funded a £1.2m HAT project to create a market within the home so that individuals can exchange their data, generated through the ‘internet-of-things’, for products and services. This project goes live within the year and it is believed that the market, already concerned with privacy, will buy into this in a big way. The fact that individuals, within this home environment, will be the generator, storer and owner of this data to give access rights to firms (the reverse of what’s happening today) will be a paradigm shift in the economy. This data that is real and not ‘big data’ guesswork – suggest that future personal data economy will be far more balanced than it is currently. Individuals, therefore, will be the entities holding on to the biggest repository of personal data and not google, government or finance and health organisations. Since household consumption is about 60% of the GDP, the multiplier effect of such a personal data economy for market exchanges is huge.

The current situation where all personal data is collected by an organisation, giving rise to privacy and access rights concerns for individuals may be a thing of the past when primary personal data owned, generated and collected by the individual far outweigh the quantity of secondary personal data out there.

So are we, as Europe, debating a policy of the present or that of the future, where it could potentially look very different.

I didn’t think anyone was listening though, and because our work is such a mindset change, they probably don’t get us. Sigh. Never mind, we plod along.

I also found the entire room filled with science communities and businesses – a manifestation of the old model of invent and exploit – so loads of science, statistics, medical, maths, engineering academics and then jump over to businesses and government: completely ignoring the role of social scientists and social science methods, no champions of the individual at all to make things happen in society. Humph.

Personal data warehouse for the HAT

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Personal Data Warehouse for the HAT

Many of you will understand the motivation for the HAT is to create personal empowerment through ownership and control of our own data. We take this as akin to transforming the ‘C’ for consumer to a ‘B’ in business because B2B relationships in the economy are much more symmetric in terms of co-creating value. How do we do that? Two ways.

First, the key to being a ‘B’ is the role of information. Just as firms need information for actions, individuals do as well. That means individual actions can be more effective if we we make more informed decisions. How then should we organise information that can make us effective? Many of you will know the term ‘data warehouse’ coming from enterprise data warehouse, where, for firms, it is the central repository of data created by integrating different sources of data. Lifting from Wikipedia, “Data warehouses store current as well as historical data and are used for creating trending reports for senior management reporting such as annual and quarterly comparisons.” Firms depend on data warehouses to make decisions – especially strategic ones. That is why companies such as oracle, SAP and consultants like Accenture dominate in this space. They have ways to organise data warehouses to make their clients more effective and sell all the different enterprise resource planning systems to them.

Individuals could do with a data warehouse as well. It can become our resources to be more effective and make better decisions. Since we buy products to make ourselves more effective, a personal data warehouse can make products more effective for us if they could be personalised by us with our own data. That means a personal data warehouse can help firms create better products and services that integrate with our data. That is one the objectives of the HAT. But there is a spanner in the works. Human information isn’t as structured as corporate information. Our actions are also less linear and structured in processes. In other words, we cannot construct a personal data warehouse the way companies construct theirs (I work a little in this space on future value-based resources with Rolls Royce and I’m not very impressed with how some ERP firms are currently doing it either). Human beings could generate loads of data (eg our google searches, our finance or health records) but the nature of the data generated is not the same type of data that could be useful to the decisions we need to make. Which is why the starting point of a personal data warehouse is not secondary data already generated by firms e.g. Food, supermarket purchases, TV programmes watched. These are silo-ed vertical data on a very small part of our lives. No, the starting point for a personal data warehouse is in primary data I.e. the data we should generate in such a structure that could be useful in our decision making for products/services and daily decisions. This data is deeply sociological but yet we must abstract it for a personal data warehouse. Thus lie the challenge for the researchers on the HAT.

I find it odd that ‘big data’ tries to discover more about us when the problem is clearly the nature of the data which often leads to its inability to create good metadata that is useful. Individuals need good meta content and meta data to make decisions. And the meta content must include the context. In looking at contextual archetypes, the purpose of the HAT is to engineer the right sensors to generate primary data that could be organised to be useful for our decisions. That leads me to the second way to make a ‘C’ become a formidable ‘B’, which is to have even more of this real primary data than the secondary data out there. That would make firms notice us won’t they? and then they realise we not only hold more of our own data, ours are real useful contextual stuff. Then maybe they will come and talk to us about exchanging that data for their products. And maybe, even maybe, they will give us back some of those data they collected about us because we can make their data (about us) better. Then we can start the conversation on what a customer relationship based on equal terms is truly about.

Be part of the HAT revolution!

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Hello Hatters, Mad Hatters and Hat fans!

We are hitting the ground running on 1 June 2013 with the start of the HAT project by having a HAT event on the 31 May 2013

We’re inviting all interested individuals and organisations to attend the official launch of the H.A.T project, which will be held on Friday, May 31 from 4pm to 6pm at the International Digital Laboratory (IDL), WMG, University of Warwick.

Sign up for tickets here or download the flyer to send on the invite and explain the HAT to friends!

Come and meet the HAT research team, discover the plans and ambitions for the project as the team begins the process of building a diverse community of stakeholders around the HAT. We’ve had quite a bit of prep over the last 2 months meeting with technology partners, like-minded firms and individuals. Watch this space as we begin to announce our HAT partners. We will also lay out plans to get everyone engaged – workshops and seminars to develop a community of HAT business model consultants, technology consultants, programmers, makers and developers. There is a whole manufacturing community out there looking to know what to build and how they can get their products connected to the HAT and we need you to help them! We also need a community for the health domain looking at leveraging the HAT for various health, well being and medical initiatives on the HAT.

Come and be part of the HAT revolution to generate and own our own data for the personal data economy! See you soon!

Media Coverage on the HAT: Birmingham Post

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Media Coverage on the HAT: Birmingham Post


The HAT was featured in the Birmingham Post on the 5 April 2013:

‘All seeing eye’ to record household data developed in Midlands

It could be an ever-present eye monitoring every facet of a person’s home life, but it won’t be a Big Brother, say the Midland scientists developing a device that will record all sorts of household electronic data.

Instead, the University of Warwick’s HAT (hub of all things) device could, ultimately, save householders money, as services like insurance and energy are tailored to an individual’s specific needs.

The HAT would record and hold data on the physical patterns of daily home life, and how gadgets and appliances are used.

The £1.2 million project is aiming to create a ‘physical personal digital repository’ to enable people to own and control their own personal data via an electronic device – a HAT – with their own digital data bank helping to shape products and services tailored to their individual needs.

The project, which could shape how products and services are marketed and sold to individuals is huge, according one of the Midland academics involved.

“We look at this like the start of Bill Gates and the PC world back in the seventies,” said WMG’s professor of marketing and service systems, Irene Ng. “Personal data exchanges will be the next big wave.”

Funding for the project has come from the Research Councils UK Digital Economy Programme and experts from the university’s Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), will be joined by business researchers, economists, computing experts and arts academics from Exeter, Nottingham, Cambridge, West of England and Edinburgh universities. Enshrined in the project is a commitment that personal data cannot be used for any other purposes without consent so that it remains the property and asset of the individual.

Read More… 

We won it!

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We Won It!

So I got the news only on Monday afternoon – for some reason the EPSRC JES system showed ‘with council – approved’ last Friday but I never received an email. Thanks to Kim who sent me repeated emails to say that it was changed from ‘in progress’ to ‘approved’ and then followed up with a document on what ‘approved’ meant (I love her enthusiasm :D)

Well, since i didn’t get the email, I didn’t want to go round soliciting bad news so I refused to call on Monday. My team mates have spent the week poking around to find out the news and finally Roger texted me to ask me to call the DE team at EPSRC and reluctantly, I did.

I was told that out of the 5 awarded (36 proposals in total), we ranked no.1! Woop woop! The team was ecstatic. You can see the 8 projects funded here.

It wasn’t that way a few weeks ago though. We received 3 reviews on the grant that ranked us 6, 4 and 3 (6 is the highest) and we were gutted. Ours is so inter-disciplinary (and not multi-disciplinary) that we pretty much confused the sociologist and the technologist. We had a choice – do a rebuttal that was nice and agreeable, or go in with guns blazing. As you can imagine, we did the latter. Imagine our surprise when we got shortlisted for interview (I guess rebuttals work when they are strong and sound!).

The interview was tough. A panel of business academic, computer scientist and an economist facing off myself, Tom and Kim (Business, Computer Scientist and Economist as well). They came at us hard and we batted the questions  back as much as we could with our responses. Suffice to say we came out feeling a little bruised. Post mortem was more than hour. I was hopeful but i painted a bleak picture to the team coz I really didn’t want them to get their hopes up. Kim gave up and was miserable and then angry. Glenn sounded down. Rog grilled me on every minute of the interview. Chris was still trying to be upbeat but hey, we didn’t hold on to much hope. Tom just kept repeating how the panel was ‘unconventional’. Jon? he sent me a one word email ‘hum…’

To be told that we were awarded was great. To be told we were ranked no. 1 was mind numbing. You spend your life studying value, service systems and business models, starting with business & economics and then foraging into engineering, computing, sociology and trying to glean all the issues surrounding it and then thinking harder about what you can do with all that knowledge that is really really going to make a difference and then – this happens. Someone now says – prove it. do it. wow.

Why does this mean so much? I mean, we are senior folks in the academic community – professors you know, we should just be cooler and say – oh yeah. we got it and just get on with it but ohhhh nooooooo…… everyone danced a little jig (ok, I can’t picture Tom or Jon dancing a little jig – no wait – I can, and its funny ;))

It does mean something because, finally, we think we have something that we want to research and experiment into that, if successful, would really really make a difference. It would help us empower and champion the common man, US, to have a collective say about where we want our data, and how it should be treated that is privacy preserving and yet pro-markets and create cool new services and jobs as well.

So yes, jig dancing. that’s what we did. Of course there are tons of work to be done – embedding context into hard data? how is that then? ah, years of economic modelling, some great thoughts about building the data set, collecting primary data about lived lives that measures how we want to understand lived lives (and not just because we have the sensors technology) – that can set me off to some interesting days of algo thinking working with Kim and the data. I’m sure my team mates will be blogging their thoughts on their parts of the project as well so – fun times ahead!

Finally, i thought I’ll drop in this picture I put up on my presentation during the grant interview – which was to subtly highlight that prima donnas (professors) could work together, much like the avengers, if there was a global task to achieve  ;p. There is a private joke here on why I am the hulk. Honestly, this project will challenge all of us and really push boundaries – we are doing something really really hard but that’s what academics really should do, shouldn’t we – research some hard questions rather than research the questions we know we can answer and then publish them. Stay tuned. I’ll be off with the bubbly and more jig dancing now.


hatavengers copy

How we differ from the rest

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How We Differ From the Rest

I was asked this question about how different are we from other ‘hubs’ or ‘platforms’ out there.

First – this is not about being another hub in your home. We see the HAT as a market platform and the job of the project is to make the market happen. the HAT proof of concept is therefore not about creating a hub (there are many out there), but the creation of a live market for the personal data economy (yes, that is the actual deliverable). However, to do that, we must find a way to reduce the biggest transaction cost (in economics-speak) in the market for data i.e. TRUST. Without TRUST, there is no exchange, trade or new business models/services in exchanging personal data for services and thereby improving lives. So here’s the all-too-common scenario: You don’t want to give a company your data, but if you don’t, you won’t get some nice services/products so this all ends badly. So we set up the HAT as a platform of trust to facilitate exchanges. That means we want many products and services on the HAT, many HAT providers out there and just as many people wanting to exchange personal data.

So this is why the HAT is an open technology that ANYONE can use. So that no one ‘owns’ the technology – it is open sourced. So all the hubs out there are most welcome to be a HAT provider – we’re giving the technology away. But the other side of the market – people – and their data – is essential for the multi-sided market platform to work. People must WANT to exchange their personal data so that means they must feel very safe that where they have kept it is safe and it is their asset for trade which is why the HAT will be a data ‘vault’ owned by the individual and has clear privacy preserving criteria that is certifiable – That means that even if the HAT provision is by a company (e.g. the way your money is trusted to the bank) the data repository is owned by the individual (e.g. the money in your bank account is yours). That also means you can potentially request your data back from GPs or supermarkets and put it in their own HAT. And then you can trade your data for services or products but to do that you must feel safe that the company that gives you the product and service in return for the data is not going to use it elsewhere. So how can we trust that HAT provider would honour the ownership of the data repository? How can we be assured that companies giving us services and products don’t use it elsewhere?

That is where the third party foundation comes in. The HAT project will institute a foundation with a charter that is a champion for the privacy of the common man. The foundation (like the fairtrade foundation) will give a rating system on privacy preservation for providers that wish to have a certification of ‘HAT-powered’. This certification is not arbitrary – it is based on set technological criteria (research into privacy preserving tech is continuing so check this out). Regardless of the rating, the key principle is that NO ONE has access to your data for other purposes if the provision is a HAT provision, unless you allow it. Some HAT providers could have lower levels and some have higher levels rating – that is only because of there are different architectures and protocols that could determine how privacy preserving your data is, and maybe some companies do not have the tech to ensure your data with them is private – but everyone is different in the way they like to treat their data, so we leave it for the market to choose and for many different ratings of privacy preservation to emerge (like those energy ratings on appliances).

We aspire to be the privacy champion for the common man, whether you are happy to give your data away, or wanting it locked up. What is important is that you must TRUST that if you bought a HAT provision on, say, a router, or sign up to a HAT provider on the cloud, the criteria for privacy would be that NO ONE has access to your vault and even if you consent, it is based on use of the product/service and not any other. So the informed consent is not ‘loaded’ the way many services are now, but one that aligns the assurances you are given, with the technology they put in (which is what the foundation will certify). Tom (Rodden) has a briefing paper on this – check it out. When you own your data, and feel safe to generate MORE of it so that you can do interesting things with it, the full value of your data will become clear to you and we hope – the market for personal data exchanges will flourish and more services/products will come about.

Second – Having your data in one place doesn’t create value. You must know how the data could be used to improve your life ie we must create worth from your personal data. The HAT will have algorithms that build context into data so that lateral dependencies are seen and therefore new services can emerge – we aim to create 4-5 key lateral apps on the HAT during the project. Big data, in our view, is useless without context but building context into data is quite a complex exercise (which we do that with the DP0s) but once it is done, that data becomes valuable. But we want it to be valuable to you, the person and no one else, so that YOU could sell it back for benefits or to acquire new services for yourself. These algorithms will be free technology for apps or software built on the HAT but whatever the services or products that connect to the HAT, the certification will ensure that companies have to strictly adhere to the privacy rules.

Third – The HAT is not just a vault – it is a multi sided market platform – there will be many products and services sitting on it. The HAT is like the world wide web. You can build many websites on it. The HAT is open-sourced technology source so there is no proprietary issue (although HAT providers could do a shrink wrapped branded HAT provision service). The set top box can be a HAT provider, the game console be the HAT provider – even the fridge door can be a HAT provider. BUT to ensure trust so that a multi sided market can emerge, the foundation to ensure trust on the platform is crucial. This is the challenge of the HAT research project on new economic and business models (did you think this was just a technology project?).

Finally – this is a CHOICE – hubs or platforms out there do not need to be HAT endorsed or certified. We are doing it because we feel that we need to do it for OUR HAT and by doing so, we can reduce the transaction costs of exchanges on our HAT and can stimulate more services and businesses to form, innovate on existing products, and regenerate the economy. This is a research project and that is the nature of our research and experimentation into multi-sided market platforms and new business models. We certainly hope to succeed!