Flemish universities want a breakthrough in research data vaults

You control who uses your data, who wouldn’t want that? If there were up to three Flemish universities, this would become possible in the future. together with IMEC, a research center for nanoelectronics and digital technology, where they will investigate the possibilities of data cabinets. The Flemish government allocates 7 million euros for research. The extent to which data reservoirs can compete with big data is examined. “This is necessary, because big data not only causes privacy problems. It hinders innovation,” says Robin Verburg, Professor of Decentralized Web Technology at Ghent University.

innovative power

Big data and privacy scandals. The two concepts seem closely related. Facebook got one 2 years ago Record a fine of $5 billion impose for. But there are more drawbacks to putting together massive amounts of data. Big data will hamper the innovative power of companies. “If a tech company wanted to mean something, it would collect data,” Verburg says. “It takes a lot of time and money. In addition, small businesses find it very difficult to compete with data giants like Facebook. So big data does not contribute to innovation. It is not the most innovative player who wins, but the one who collects the most data.”

Robin Verburg

So it’s time for a change. Flemish universities, the University of Ghent, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Catholic University of Leuven are collaborating with Imec to search for an alternative to big data in the project. SolidLab† After that, each person will have their own data securely to store their data. Companies and apps must then request access to use this data. A simple idea has dire consequences for innovation. You only need to enter your data once. After that, it can be completely reused.”

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to get to know

Verburg says the fact that SolidLab received €7 million in subsidy is a huge recognition of the potential of data vaults. “The government recognizes that we need to prepare for a different kind of data economy.” Flanders, with a population of around six million people, has missed the boat when it comes to the big data economy. The same goes for the rest of Europe. The United States and China are the main players in this game. “Through this project, the government will support the future data economy, and thus also innovation in Europe.”

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Read an article we previously published about SolidLab here

The project focuses on technological, social as well as financial challenges. The central question is how we should deal with a large number of small data sets, both technologically and socially and economically. Verburg: “If we want to create data vaults for six million citizens, we actually have to create six million storage locations. So we have to work very differently than we do with big data, as there are a few big locations where all the data is stored. But it’s worth a try. Because the positive results are great.”

In addition, we also need to gain more knowledge in the social field. “Consider the legal aspects, for example. What will change if electronic data becomes someone’s property? How do you explain this new innovation to users? We are also focusing on that in this project.”

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digitally moving

The project often works with use cases to test data innovation. One of these is My Digital Move, where data vaults must ensure that the movement runs smoothly. “When you move today, you have to manually pass the details of the transfer to, for example, the energy company and the municipality. In the future, you will put the data about the transfer in the data store, after which any service provider with your permission can access it.”

connect carrots

Verborg sees it promising that three large Flemish universities will put their heads together to make SolidLab a success. “My computer science colleagues and I are on his technology island. We basically see how we can tackle technological challenges, but of course we’re dealing with a more complex story. We need each other as universities. Others are better at exploring economic and social frameworks. We can use all the expertise.”

Big data has its upsides, too. Read how big data (and artificial intelligence) can help you get around Murphy’s Law

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