Data is undeniably at the core of Industry 4.0. How it’s leveraged can obviously have a huge impact on technological development within the sector, but also society in general. That’s the concept at the heart of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s new Data for Common Purpose Initiative (DCPI), billed as the first of its kind on a global scale.
“You create data every day, each of us. We capture, we create data. Imagine a world where we can save permissions around what our data can and cannot be used for,” said DCPI Project Lead Nadia Hewett of the WEF in an interview with 6GWorld, discussing the governance framework the DCPI community is looking to design.
The “Permissioning” Process
Comprising over 50 partners from 20 countries across the world, DCPI is far from alone in its community’s assessment of the situation. In fact, with the world in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, the current situation is in the same vein as ones DCPI hopes to address.
“So I give permission for my data to be shared for research testing around the cure for COVID or dementia or cancer, but I’m not giving permission for it to be used in this, and this, and this way. So, if you think about data, it can and should be treated differently depending on its actual and anticipated use. As new uses for your data arise within your permitted purposes, it’s tagged according to your permissioning. It’s automatically encrypted. It’s anonymised,” Hewett said of how it all might work.
According to Hewett, that’s where Industry 4.0 comes into play. She cited technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, and tokenisation as key to the “permissioning” process.
“These technologies really are on a path to enable differentiated positioning of the same data, depending upon context. With 4.0 technologies, given that it’s used ethically, etc., we have more opportunities than ever before to apply and use the same piece of data in different ways,” she said.
DCPI partners include multiple members of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) network, including C4IR Colombia. In conjunction with the Colombia government and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – another DCPI partner –C4IR Colombia recently launched Moonshot, a pilot project to create a data marketplace which would connect data consumers and providers. It’s currently based in Medellin, but that’s potentially just for now.
“At this moment we are starting to design the model of the data marketplace, but we are working with different national entities, who are going to be key players for the development of the regulatory framework of the data marketplace in Colombia and across borders,” said C4IR Colombia Project Specialist Eduardo Gomez Restrepo, speaking to 6GWorld.
Come 2021, Moonshot will be looking to partner with with the Pacific Alliance and create a data-exchange agreement with member countries. Right now, Moonshot is working on the data-valuation aspect of the marketplace, with compensation set to depend on factors including the given business model. C4IR Colombia is currently validating its hypothesis on how to valuate data with the DCPI community. PwC Strategy Consulting Manager Felipe Bernal, who’s working on the project, acknowledged the lack of worldwide consensus on a mechanism for such a purpose, but there is a starting point, at least.
“The value or the price of data is going to be based on that invisible hand of the market in terms of demand. We can have negotiations inside the marketplace depending on those ceiling prices and floor prices of the data and, when that negotiation occurs and is determined or defined, that’s where the compensation of the provider is enabled. So, when you have an agreement, you agree on a price, you agree on a value, and that’s where the transaction occurs.”
Data Policy Today
The ability for data providers to opt in to specific projects and get compensated is paramount to what WEF is looking to achieve, having made a commitment of at least four years to DCPI. Meanwhile a separate pilot project has C4IR Japan working alongside the Japanese government to address challenges in healthy living, with a focus on Japan’s high old-age dependency ratio compared to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Overall, the DCPI community is nevertheless aiming to design frameworks that are use-case agnostic. The thought process is such that specific data can be re-used for multiple common purposes.
“We want to focus policy around the use of data, so reorient the focus of data policy less on the origin of data collection, which is very much a focus today, the origin of data collection, and much more on the specific use of that data,” said Hewett. “In the case of farmers’ data, it can also help with weather predictions. It could become environmental data, help with the environment and weather predictions. It could help with informing consumer choices. It could help with insurance.”
Data policy is a hot topic, with, for example, the Privacy Shield agreement between the European Union and United States having to be re-negotiated. The idea behind the Privacy Shield, which had been declared invalid this past summer, is to protect the rights of citizens in the context of cross-border data flows. According to Hewett, the need for privacy and security is an important DCPI tenet.
“In DCPI, we will be articulating parameters for responsible and fair and ethical use of data. That is key. So, first of all, your data cannot be used for non-permissioned purposes, your rights are recognised, economic benefits and risks are appropriately allocated, privacy and security, and I would say lastly that it’s anchored in trust. Those things are very important,” she said.
Hewett pointed to the diverse group of DCPI stakeholders as an asset that can provide different regulatory perspectives. In her mind, keeping up with policy is one part of the challenge. Another is the development of technology.
“I think the issue there is not as much regulations moving and shifting as it is these technologies, what they’re able to do and how fast regulations are able to keep up and that governance gap that’s created,” she said. “We need to find new, agile ways of regulating. So, for example, the private sector needs to lean in much more and the private sector working with the public sector becomes more important than ever to do so.
“I think that’s why DCPI, the community we have, that public-private intersection with the focus on governance gaps is so important and [will] really position us in a way that we can address this, like many others might not be able to do.”
Feature image courtesy of Pete Linforth (via Pixabay).
With journalism credits spanning several sectors including finance and tech, Ryan joins 6GWorld with wide eyes looking onward. He aims to lend his experience to the site, covering the latest generation of cellular advancements as it unfolds, leading into 6G.