Data is in high demand. Gartner estimates that 35% of large organizations will be either sellers or buyers of data via formal online data marketplaces by 2022. In the private sector, increasing the availability and access of vast data ecosystems is critical for the development and effective deployment of artificial intelligence in the real world.
Take autonomous vehicles as an example. They require huge amounts of data, from data on roads and maps to information on every potential obstacle or anomaly the vehicle may encounter. To gather all that would take decades for a single automotive manufacturer, but this process can be accelerated by access to industry-wide data lakes.
Or there is the maritime sector, where ships entering ports must share data before they arrive. Without a standardized way of sharing data between vessels, port operators and other parties, the process is complex and resource intensive. By finding a way of sharing information that all relevant organizations can use, the sector could speed up data exchange and improve security and transparency while simplifying the process.
For governments, being able to share data promises the potential for more targeted, relevant and effective public services, without having to significantly increase resources. Then there is the promise of more evidence-based policy making and increasing the opportunity for advancing science and innovation.
Even at an individual level, better data sharing and access could improve the delivery of personalized services and deliver greater professional opportunities. Allowing access to personal data could also earn people rewards and monetization if they sanction it.
The privacy factor
Yet for all the potential benefits better data sharing can bring, it still needs to be executed in a manner that is safe and secure. Crucially, it will need to meet the requirements of data privacy regulations and not risk exposing personal information.
The world is becoming more privacy literate. Individuals increasingly understand the value of their data, and while regulations were initially slow to catch up with technology, that is no longer the case. Gartner estimates that by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations.
So, organizations need to find a way to share data that meets the expectations of data owners and fits within regulatory requirements, while still being able to extract the value they want.
Data privacy technology
This is where privacy technology comes in. These are services and tools that support data in transit between on-premise data warehouses, data lakes and cloud solutions. They ensure that all legal and risk requirements are supported and met.
But privacy tech also offers more than just checking that data sharing is compliant. As Xavier Quintuña, a senior IT architect at Orange Silicon Valley noted in a recent blog post, this movement requires tracking, which in turn uses metadata.
He points out that it will require: “centralized metadata repositories [maintaining] records associated with locations, status, stage, and type of different data assets in public and private clouds. The metadata becomes an important aspect of achieving privacy. Traceability and transparency could help legal teams to respond to any request for regulators and improve productivity for their data teams.”
Privacy tech can provide businesses with the ability to extract value, while keeping data private and information protected. Yet there is another step that needs to be taken: standardization. For many organizations, the barrier to data sharing has as much to do with their own data housekeeping as it has to do with ensuring privacy.
Many enterprises, in both the public and private sectors, still wrestle with the huge amounts of data they currently store. Having standardized approaches to data sharing would help accelerate the process of identifying the right information and making it available appropriately. One anonymous respondent to a UK government report on the motivations for and barriers to data sharing said, “A lot of time emphasis is put on digital [and] digital transformation, … but you never hear anything about the information and data, and there is an awful lot of work that goes into making data ready to be shared in that way …, and that is hidden in the background.”
Cross industry, cross border data sharing
This is where initiatives such as GAIA-X can play a critical role. It is a project that aims to create a secure, federated system that meets the highest standards of digital sovereignty, while promoting innovation. Counting among its founding members Orange, Bosch, BMW and Siemens, GAIA-X will set the European standard for data exchange between enterprises across industries, sectors and geographies.
At its core, GAIA-X creates a framework for secure and fair data sharing where the data provider retains control over what happens to its data. Under this premise, it addresses sovereignty – not just the national sovereignty of data whereby citizen information needs to stay within borders, but also from an enterprise perspective on how they get value from data.
In another example, Orange, Sanofi, Capgemini and Generali recently announced plans to create a joint venture that aims to fast-track the development and bring to market digital healthcare services. Among the initiatives making the joint venture noteworthy is that the founding companies will pool and share data with startups, in an ethical and responsible framework, to aid the creation of these services.
The benefits of data sharing are clear. But to enable those opportunities requires standardized access, a shared commitment to maintaining privacy and the tools to deliver it all securely. No single entity can deliver it all – to enable data sharing that generates value for organizations while protecting data-owner privacy requires cross-sector, cross-border cooperation.