Personal Data Research at UWE

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By Glenn Parry 


The HAT-related research Dr Alex Kharlamov and I have been doing at the University of the West of England (UWE), in partnership with colleagues at other institutions, has been focused on personal data.

The first major piece is related to how personal data in the home might help inform business models. IoT (Internet of Things) provides an opportunity for firms to gather direct data from the home on how people use their products and services. We analysed what resources are in the home and created four categories of associated ways they can be measured which we named use visibility measures: depletion measures, consumption measures, experience measures and interaction measures. So, if we consider a tin of beans, it is a depletion resource with a very long shelf life. The home owner may have several tins in their cupboard. The supplier currently has no visibility of the number of tins in storage or the rate and time of consumption. With the power of the IoT, it would be possible to track this and replenish in a smart way such that when a tin is consumed another is automatically delivered. This changes the business model for the retailer and the nature of the resource moves from depletion to consumption. It also offers possibilities for more sustainable supply.

IoT data may also allow us to see how a resource is used. For example, does the homeowner microwave or stove heat the beans, how are they used in combination with other foods, what times of day are they consumed and by whom? Such detailed data reveals opportunity to create new offers and for the provider to engage in dialogue with the homeowner to improve their experience. However, data sharing at this level raises concerns about privacy and vulnerability. Our current research is addressing this important issue.

We started researching in the domain of medical data, as we perceive this as the most sensitive data and the principles of privacy and confidentiality are paramount in this domain. With medical data, we have found that people do evaluate the risk and benefit of sharing. We have also discovered that the majority of patients share medical data. Some of the possible interpretations of this finding is that individuals neglect the potential risk or over-estimate the potential benefit. Another possible interpretation is that patients do not fully understand the implications of sharing. There is more work to be done here.

In a different study, we focused on assessing perceived individual vulnerability towards sharing personal data. We found that individuals tend to be generally risk-taking, and do not feel vulnerable with regards to data such as their identity data, email address, affiliation, etc. Identity data can be used to masquerade as someone else and causes one of the most common and eminent threats today. In contrast, people tend to be primarily risk-averse, and feel vulnerable if sharing information of national security value or information threatening business survival. We find that people overestimate the likelihood of rare types of data loss and underestimate of the most common and most likely types of data loss when it comes to data relating to their finances (credit card or bank account details) or account access (passwords to different websites, or social media).

Our latest work seeks to measure individual risk-taking and risk perception for data. One finding is that risk-taking associated with information privacy is related to the ethical risk position of the individual. Institutions tend to judge and model data loss from a financial point of view. The finding shows a contrasts with consumers who do not view information privacy from a financial point of view, but rather from an ethical standpoint. The work suggests modelling risk associated with consumer data loss purely on financial terms is wrong and models needs to factor in the ethical judgements of the consumer in the case of data breach.

A Co-Investigator on the HAT Project, Glenn Parry is Professor in Strategy and Operations Management with Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

HAT Research Partnerships

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A revolutionary new way of conducting research

HAT Research gives academics real, privacy-preserving subject data and insights. End your reliance on simulations and surveys by gathering information on the behaviour of real research subjects, in real environments.

HATs are private ‘data accounts’ that you can give to study participants so that they can collect live research data in a way that preserves their privacy. These accounts would be legally owned by the study participants, having signed a data exchange agreement with you, the study owner, in order to give you the specific findings that you need.

Learn more at www.hubofallthings.com or go to marketsquare.hubofallthings.com/c/hatsondemand to request a HAT research environment for your project.

Step 1

Go to marketsquare.hubofallthings.com/c/hatsondemand

Step 2

Submit a request for the number of HATs you’re going to need for your research (pricing and provisioning details are available on the website). You will receive an email with an invitation code for your HATs, and instructions about how to on-board your study participants.

Step 3

Recruit your participants by asking them to sign up to their HATs using your invitation code, and pull the data you require into their HATs.

Step 4

Configure the data exchange contract between you and your study participants using the HAT’s DataBuyer service at databuyer.hubofallthings.com, where you will set up a ‘Data Offer’ to grab the data you need from your participants for the duration of your study, as well as any rewards you wish to give them in return for participating.

Currently available data

Profile (identity)
Fitbit (activity), Monzo (financial transactions), Twitter and Facebook (social media)
iPhone location
Notables (notes)
Note: Researchers are encouraged to collect data without PII (personal identitfy identifiers)

Step 5

Inform your participants about how to claim their Data Offer and participate in the study.

Step 6

At the conclusion of your study, the data you’ve gathered from your study participants will be available in a downloadable file format.

Some notes
If your study participants are already HAT users, steps 1-3 will not be required, and you should always remember that provisioning HATs for your study participants does not give you any rights to any of their data. HATs provide you with a way to capture and exchange the private data of your study participants that would be valuable for research. HATs are private, and they are legally owned by their users. They have the right to cancel any data transaction at any time, and you should always make sure you have the necessary ethics approvals from your institution to conduct your research.

Conducting more advanced HAT research?
You can unlock more powerful research capabilities in AI and personal data analytics by becoming a HAT provider with your own domain of user.institutionname.net. HAT providers can provision and configure deeper analytics over the data stored inside users’ HATs for themselves, giving them a greater degree of control over the findings they can secure for their research.

Next steps

  • Find out more about the HAT and how it can help your research by joining the HAT community
  • Submit your research papers to HAT tracks in conferences around the world, hosted by the HAT Living Labs research community.  Find out more about the research community at www.hatresearch.org/hall and join the HAT R & D Mailing List to be kept updated about our activities
  • Go to innovation.hubofallthings.com/c/contact to get involved with the HAT as an institutional partner


Available September 2017


HAT Track at 5th Naples Forum on Service

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Service researchers from around the world came together recently to discuss the Digitization and Datafication of Services at the recent 5th Naples Forum on Service, held in Sorrento, Italy on June 6-9.

Sponsored by the HAT Living Labs (HALL), the HAT parallel session took a data-driven perspective of Service Science, Service-Dominant Logic, and Network Theory in order to better explore the implications, challenges and direction of further digitization among services. Follow a Storify account of the HAT Track.

The following six abstracts were presented and discussed during this session:

Naples HAT Track Abstracts

•  A computational method to examine service business models by Zena Wood, Glenn Parry & David Walker

•  Personal data and the perception of individual vulnerability: an experiment by Alex Kharlamov, Glenn Parry, Ganna Pogrebna

•  An outside-in approach to business model innovation – customer context and digitalisation by Max Green

 Consumer perceived vulnerability, privacy calculus and information disclosure: an empirical investigation by Susan Wakenshaw, Mike Dixon, Irene Ng & Carsten Maple –

Engineering a personal data market: the Hub of all Things (HAT) –  by Susan Wakenshaw & Irene Ng

• Clicking away privacy: do users know (or care) about their personal data? – by Mel Smith

View the abstracts on the Naples Forum on Service website



Building a Hard HAT

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Databox project

CONTriVE is working with the £1.5M Databox Project to develop a device that could house a ‘hard-HAT’ to complement the current cloud-based HATs. Dr. Richard Mortier, a Co-I on both CONTriVE and the Databox projects, is building a data processing framework allowing data processors to compute over cohorts of data subjects in a world with Databoxes (i.e., where data subjects’ data is distributed into and accessed via individual devices).

Like CONTriVE, the Databox project is funded by the EPSRC’s Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security in the Digital Economy Theme. The project is exploring design and development of the Databox as means of enhancing accountability and giving individuals control over the use of their personal data.

For further information about the Databox project, visit: http://www.databoxproject.uk or Databox forums at https://forum.databoxproject.uk. Also, view this series of videos to get a better understanding of the Databox concept and how it works for your personal data.


Further reading



HALL Digitization & Datafication of Services Track

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Digitization & Datafication of Services Track at the 5th Naples Forum on Service at Sorrento, Italy

The HAT Living Labs (HALL) is sponsoring the Digitization and Datafication of Services track at the 5th Naples Forum on Service to be held from 6-9 June, 2017 in Sorrento, Italy.

This track, organised by HALL researchers Irene Ng and Mike Dixon, takes a data-driven perspective of Service Science, Service-Dominant Logic, and Network Theory. This is to better explore the implications, challenges, and direction of further digitization among services.

Four broad research themes have been identified for this track:

  1. The collection of data
  2. The analytics of data
  3. The use of data
  4. The ownership and stewardship of personal data

More details are available in the Call for Abstracts. Submission deadline is Jan 20.

For further details on the 5th Naples Forum on Service, visit: http://www.naplesforumonservice.it/.

Steering the HALL Research Agenda

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Organisations, policy makers, and researchers likely agree on one thing: data is valuable. Individuals are habitually being told that data generated by their behaviours and actions will be stored and analysed. But researchers’ access to this data is not always possible for privacy, security and confidentiality reasons; even if individuals are comfortable with sharing their data with researchers they likely have no recourse to do so. The right to store, see, and share your own data is not yet a guaranteed right; for that matter, it’s not even easy to do.

A revolutionary technology however hopes to liberate data, i.e., to give individuals access to their own data. This in turn fundamentally changes the relationship that researchers have with data providers. Instead of asking corporations and organisations for data, endlessly imploring corporate lawyers to allow the smallest of glances promising no ill-will, researchers will now be able to petition end-users directly. The beginning of this is the HAT and HALL.

What is the HAT?

The HAT is the result of a multi-year, multi-million sterling pound research project conducted across 6 UK universities to develop the technology that allows individuals to collect, consolidate, trade, and sell their personal data generated from Internet-enabled devices and services. It provides individuals with their own storage space for their own data; data generated from their homes (e.g., Internet-enabled smart meters and sensors, security, lighting, temperature control, etc), and from their behaviour and actions (e.g., fitness wearable devices and apps, finance apps, geo-location, calendaring, social media activity, retail loyalty card activity). Each individual owns their own data; they have their own server or a HAT, and can decide what to do with this data.

With a HAT, individuals can do several things with their data. First, they can claim their data to see what data organisations know about them. Second, they can organise the data, combining multiple sources of data in the first-ever hyperdata browser named Rumpel. Finally, individuals can trade, share, or otherwise sell their data to others on the MarketSquare, a public space with community members (including researchers) who can make offers for certain types of data. MarketSquare is the initial front door for what amounts to be essentially a new economy – the personal data economy. A key element of the HAT infrastructure is that it is open-source and governed by a community foundation; it is not part of a corporation.

What is HALL?

Without overstating its potential, the HAT infrastructure promises to change the internet and research. It enables individuals to store, mine and combine data that they generate in every aspect of their lives. Not only data generated for Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled devices, but also all online and offline transactional data that is collected can be claimed, stored, combined and offered by individuals. From a research standpoint, this combination of data is unprecedented. Finally, the HAT liberates data from the hands of the few corporations that own and develop platforms by forcing platform creators to collect data on the data generators’ terms.

Hat Living Labs (HALL) is the academic research arm of the HAT infrastructure. HALL provides an experimental environment or ‘sandbox’ in which interested researchers from any discipline can request permission to explore. The vision of HALL is to lead and guide research efforts in how personal data liberation within the HAT infrastructure can lead to empowerment of individuals and to the development of new services and markets, and how these might impact economic and policy changes.

What type of research are we talking about here?

The HALL team has identified two overarching types of research streams. First, we suspect there will be researchers interested in the goings-on of the HAT itself and how individuals act or interact on the HAT. For example, among the first of HALL- sponsored research is the CONTRIVE project in which researchers are exploring how different levels of trust and control influence individuals’ willingness to buy and sell different combinations of personal data.

Second, we believe there will be researchers interested in using the HAT to request for different combinations of data from users. Researchers could petition individuals’ data on the MarketSquare that can empirically test behavioural-based research questions. For example, researchers interested in fitness and diet behaviour could ask for data from people who have stored their fitness wearable data and diet journaling data. This data could be combined with geo-location, financial spending data, social media activity, health records, or grocery shopping behaviour, all depending on the individual’s willingness to provide their data. In addition, we suspect that some researchers will want to give HATs to participants as a way to record their data. Researchers could set up controlled experiments or interventions for which data could be automatically collected over time.

In both types of research, we feel that there are researchers in countless disciplines that could utilise the HAT infrastructure to aid their research. There may also be ways to use the HAT in research that we haven’t considered or that will develop as the IoT and other technology evolves and broadens.

How to get involved

Researchers interested in knowing more about HALL and HAT should follow the links above. We are in the process of developing procedures for research proposal approvals which starts here; we’ve already received several proposals and will be responding to them soon. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of me or any members of the HALL team by sending us an email at sswmg@warwick.ac.uk




HALL Invitation for Research

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The HAT Living Labs (HALL) is inviting proposals for research on its empirical platform for the understanding of service systems, markets, innovation and economic/business models. Research Directors Irene Ng and Roger Maull are inviting researchers in residence, and those who wish to access the platform data, or interview stakeholders.

What types of data are available for analysis? They include:

  • Trading of personal data by popularity (data points and combinations)
  • Average price of trades against popular data points combinations
  • Characteristics of trading among demographic groups
  • Trading patterns according to various industries or even companies

Also data on ecosystem stakeholders, strategies, decisions pertaining to the innovation, management, support and roll out of the platform through emails, discussions, interviews, minutes and notes.

Read more about the HALL’s research agenda in this blogpost by HALL Research Director Mike Dixon.


 How to Submit Your Proposal

  1. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal for consideration, first  consult with the HALL’s Area Research Directors on topics of interest. These Area Research Directors are thought leaders and senior academics in their domain areas; they incentivise HAT research as well as curate a repository of research on the HAT in their areas. We currently have Area Research Directors in the domains of Block Chains, Cognitive Assistance, Digital Innovation and Healthcare, Innovation of Markets, and Wellbeing. For any queries outside these areas, please consult Irene Ng or Roger Maull.
  2. Once you have decided on your topic of interest, please fill out the application form below and also send your CV and a two-page research proposal to Susan Wakenshaw.
  3. If your application is approved for support from HALL, you will be required to obtain your own HAT so that you can become better acquainted with the system. To get a HAT, please visit hatters.hubofallthings.com

HALL Research Application Form

* indicates required

How will you get a HAT?

About You

About your Proposed Research

Does your research question fit in one or more of the following topics:

HALL Resource Request

Your Profiles

HALL Researchers in Residence

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This is a pre-announcement to stimulate interest for the HAT Living Labs (HALL) project that begins on June 1 2016.

The HALL team is looking for two researchers-in-residence to spend time at Warwick/Cambridge to work with the tech and research team on HALL. Specifically, to design experimental apps to test the relationship between control, trust and vulnerability of individuals in live settings. Also to manage the interface between research, HCF innovation (open source community) and HATDeX (live environments of users)


    • Comfortable in tech and business/economics domains
    • Able to parameterise and develop mathematical models
    • Strong in analytics and quantitative data methods and analysis
    • Preferably able to design behavioural experiments using technology (eg apps)
    • Posts are paid at Research Fellow pay level at 0.5 FTE for 12 months. Researchers can be PhD students on exchange, or academics on sabbatical, but we expect matched funding of 0.5FTE (which can be from an institution or from the candidates themselves) for the candidate to be working with the team on a full time basis.
    • Must have the right to residency in the UK.

Interested candidates should send an email expressing their interest along with their CVs to HALL PI Irene Ng  and HALL programme manager Xiao Ma. We will inform you once the recruitment process begins. Bear in mind that all applications for the posts will go through the University of Warwick HR process for recruitment.