What a year it’s been for the HAT research (R & D) team!
We’ve continued to have another good year in 2016. Early on, we saw the award of a £1.2m research grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to four universities involved in the HAT project. The ConTriVE grant investigates the role of control and trust in mitigating risks arising from perceived vulnerability in the use of personal data. The grant also enabled the team to set up the HAT Living Labs (HALL), an experimental environment or ‘sandbox’ within the HAT live ecosystem.
The ConTriVE project began on June 1, followed by the appointment of Dr Mike Dixon as HALL research director responsible for steering the HALL’s research agenda. The HALL is now open to researchers worldwide; those interested in accessing the HAT platform data for their work are invited to submit research proposals to us. CONTRIVE is also working with the £1.5M Databox Project to develop a device that could house a ‘hard-HAT’ to complement the current cloud-based HATs. This is a data processing framework that allows data processors to compute over cohorts of data subjects in a world with Databoxes.
In November, we received the good news that we’d received another £1.1m EPSRC grant. This time, to a project that will use HATs to investigate human-related risks and behavioural issues in cybersecurity and cybercrime ecosystems. Led by Surrey University’s Dr Shujun Li, the ACCEPT project will see both the Universities of Warwick and Surrey becoming HAT providers in 2017. They will create sandboxes on the HAT ecosystem and run some interesting experiments.
Completion of RUMPEL
The HAT may have been officially handed over to the HAT Foundation in Feb 2016 for its further development and global rollout. However, R & D work on the HAT platform continued with the completion of the RUMPEL hyperdata browser through the RCUK-funded HARRIET project. Released in mid-2016, RUMPEL enables HAT users to browse the personal data collected onto their HATs, allowing them to control, combine and share the data in whatever way they wish. Designing RUMPEL was quite a challenge though, as PI Irene Ng explains in this blogpost about the principles and thinking behind its design.
The year also saw the HAT receive an accolade. In the O2 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards 2016, it was named a runner-up in the Innovative Digital Applications category. Meanwhile, the HAT continues to be in the news. It was recently featured in an Inc.com article about how data needs to be more personal in the 21st century. In a Scientific American blogpost earlier this year, HAT researchers Mike Skilton and Irene Ng discussed how the Apple vs FBI case was opening the door for new approaches to managing our personal data. The HAT also received a lot of media attention earlier in the year following the HAT Foundation’s launch of its Indiegogo campaign. Do visit the HAT Media page to see what they’ve been saying about the HAT.
Looking ahead in 2017
As we turn to the year ahead, there’s much to look forward to, including the April start of the ACCEPT project. And ongoing work continues with ConTriVE and HALL. This includes the sponsorship of a Digitization and Datafication of Services Track at the 5th Naples Forum on Service in Sorrento, Italy this summer. Spring 2017 will see the inaugural Wolfson-HAT Annual Symposium, held at Wolfson College, Cambridge. This series of panel discussions will explore critical issues around the uses (and abuses) of our personal data. It will also consider the wider questions of the Digital Person, freedom, identity, security and innovation.
And finally, the HAT/HALL is also now on ResearchGate! Follow us at https://www.researchgate.net/project/HALL-HAT-Living-Labs.