The Hub-of-All-Things (HAT) is the first-ever Personal Data Platform (HATPDP) created to trade and exchange individuals’ own data for services in a standardised and structured manner. 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. For firms, the HATPDP opens up opportunities for exchanges and use of personal data in a way that is privacy preserving. Firms can:
- Build smart devices that allow individuals to acquire their personal data from the device and preserve it in their HATs
- Build smart applications for individuals to make use of their data
- Help individuals exchange their data for better buying decisions
To understand more about the HAT, view the HAT video, and read the background information below.
Background: The Problem
Sources suggest (Fig. 1) that there will be ~50bn devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Such network of Things, i.e. connected devices or a so-called Internet of Things (IoT), constantly generates digital data associated with us. As the IoT grows, so does the volume of data. However, currently there is no centralised platform for them and that limits the opportunities. At the moment, each vendor collects our data, neither sharing that with other organisations (because they are not allowed to), nor really sharing what they found out back to us. So we risk losing out on the benefits of the IoT by having all of information lost in many closed silos.
Fig. 1. Growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Source
All the gadgets, connected via the IoT, really help us live our lives. For example, you can turn of your kitchen lights from your iPad in your bedroom. But by being so close to us, these gadgets also know a lot about us: our every move, every action, online and offline. It can help us improve our lives, but it also helps companies to know when and what we want to buy from them.
It is important to understand what personal data actually is. Personal data is essentially all the information about us in existence. And your online personal data, such as your emails, social network accounts and every page you visit or link you click, represent your digital identity. At the moment, however, we do not own our digital identity and just a little portion of our online data is used as an exchange for services.
How much do you think your Facebook account costs? Well, your network, every “like” and “share” contribute towards 95% of Facebook’s $18bn revenue generated from advertising (Fig. 2). And, while Facebook gets wealthy from monetising our social lives, to a large extent we are just offered a bunch of targeted ads in exchange.
Fig. 2. Facebook revenue 2014 - 2015. Source
Our various data is “locked” in different companies, so-called verticals, which are not allowed to share it with other organisations because of the data protection acts. Companies are also collecting our personal data for their own competitive advantage against others - the more data a company has, the more and the better targeted services it can offer. Having no “horizontal” communication between such verticals limits potential uses of our own data - different parts are locked in different places and there is no way to claim it all, collect in one place and analyse as a whole. Analysis of our digital behaviours could benefit us from, for example, simple understandings of our eating habits to potential health risks. And last but not least, if individuals took control of their data, companies would be made to innovate on products, quality and price rather than on ways to gather our data.
Background: The Solution
There is currently no good technology in the World, which would allow us to gather, conveniently store, analyse and trade our selected data for better products or services. Therefore, the HAT idea was proposed, which focuses on the development of an exciting Personal Data Management System to do all these things and more. Overall the HAT value proposition follows the CODE:
C – a secure Personal Data Container;
O – an Ontology and Database Schema that flattens and liberates vertical data;
D – a Data Bundling Tool (contextualisation of data by an individual who owns the data);
E – an Exchange Platform for exchange and use of Personal Data with other individuals and firms
with a user being at the centre of the personal data access control.
The HAT was build as a £1.2M RCUK Digital Economy funded research project, conducted by researchers from 6 UK Universities: Cambridge, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Surrey, Warwick and West of England. The research team realised that they can change the Internet - they can help people who give away their data online make money from their behaviour in digital world and created a spin-off. Since finishing the research project, the HAT has evolved into HAT foundation, a social enterprise grouping, including:
The nonprofit HAT Community Foundation (HCF), the organizational home of the HAT Project, a global community and public interest initiative that believes that individuals should have custodial rights and access to their personal data to create value with it by combining disparate data and exchanging it with those we trust. Since much of the work on the HAT project comes from funded research, and also to ensure the ecosystem for personal data exchange can grow and innovate freely, we endeavour to release many of our products on an open source basis. We are indebted to many volunteers and HAT community members globally who have contributed to the code and thereby made the HAT ecosystem better for ourselves.
HAT Data Exchange Ltd. To keep the ecosystem viable, we build products that create opportunity and inspire further innovation. Many of our products are developed by the HAT Data Exchange Ltd. - the operational arm of the HCF. Dividend from HATDeX is partially reinvested into the ecosystem development. Products https://github.com/Hub-of-all-Things/HAT from HATDeX include HAT, Rumpel, Universal Data Plugs and other open source tools.
HAT is an ecosystem rather than a simple platform for data collection and sharing. There are various groups involved in the overall ecosystem (Fig. 3): users, application providers, platform providers, firms and the HAT foundation.
Fig. 3. The HAT Ecosystem, where participants are: technology developers, HAPs (HAT Application Providers), HPPs (HAT Platform Providers), users, service providers and the HAT Foundation, which is a social enterprise regulating the whole HAT Ecosystem.
An Alpha release of the HAT HyperData Browser was released in January 2016. Since then, the HAT team has successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign on the IndieGoGo platform. For more technical details about the HAT technology please visit http://forum.hatdex.org/t/central-hat-development-info.