It’s My Data, and I’ll share if I want to …

1

August 28, 2012 by terryrichwhitehead

Imagine the scenario lazing on the Copacabana thousands of miles from home enjoying the scenery when you receive a text. “Hi dad we had a party last night and you know that dodgy fitting on the cistern …” and what’s worse you’re the one expected to sort out getting the problem fixed and deal with the insurance company. On top of that you got to remember were you filed the insurance documents before you even try to explain to a teenager how to locate the required documents. Well this is a thing of the past, not teenagers but the storage of documents and personal information. Worse still what happens in the case of a fire when this personal information filed at home.

Cloud based Personal Data Stores not only offer a way of managing situations like this but they also bring many other benefits. Personal Data Stores are secure and you own the data, not Facebook etc. You create, update and delete the data. On top of this you control who has access to what elements of your data. For instance in the case of my scenario I can access my Personal Data Store, navigate to my insurance documents, select contents insurance and other related documents and grant access to the relevant parties electronically. It’s akin to having your own personal Electronic Document and Records Management in the cloud.

The typical types of information stored in Personal Data Stores would be:

  • Completed application forms
  • Education details
  • Employment details
  • Health details
  • Insurance details
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Software Licence Keys
  • Vehicle details

The list goes on and with storage capacities rising and costs coming down, potentially just about anything could be managed within a Personal Data Store.

Another interesting aspect of Personal Data Stores is that control of the store could be under the right circumstances be passed third party as we do today with financial when needs arise. For example elderly relatives, today we grant power of attorney in order to manage affairs; well that same principle can be adopted to manage personal Data Stores.

I’ve been using various cloud base storage systems for personal information for several years and on more than one occasion found it invaluable. Personal Data Stores are another step forward and in time will become common place in normal day to day life. I know it sounds very Orwellian but it will become the norm of how we interact electronically with commerce, organisations and public services. What is very un-Orwellian is that you own the data, this may also mean the Data Protection Act is going to have to be amended.

Now some people will be quite rightly very sceptical over Personal Data Stores and the providers of such stores are really going to have to win our trust. There is also another issue and that is standards, well not standards for standards sake but some ground rules that will allow people to easily migrate their data from one Personal Data Store to another should the need arise. One of my golden rules of IT development is always have an exit strategy.

At Warwick we are just starting a proof of concept development looking at using Personal Data Stores. We will be using anonymous data related to disabilities in conjunction with a cloud based search service which we hope to gain some useful insight into their use and in how we can integrate Personal Data Stores into our service architecture. This will pave the way of us to utilise such services where the data held would be of a sensitive nature but still be in the control of the person that it relates to.

Although Personal Stores have been on the radar for a number of years, it is only now are things really starting to take shape. Several local authorities are already moving forward in utilising Personal Data Stores, it would be interesting to hear from any of these so we can learn from their experiences.

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One thought on “It’s My Data, and I’ll share if I want to …

  1. ian litton says:

    There are a couple of aspects of Personal Data Stores that have the potential to be really powerful.

    Firstly, being able to hold credentials from 3rd party organisations (including local and central government) that confirm entitlements etc. A local authority, might, for example, issue an electronic token for you to store in your PDS that shows entitlement to free schools meals. This could then be used as a “passport” to access other services that are based on FSM entitlement. Other credentials might include your driving licence status, or entitlement to Universal Credit.

    Secondly the government’s MyData initiative. A personal data store could be used, for example, to hold all of your detailed, mobile phone transactions. These would be made available to your PDS by your mobile phone provider. Application developers (e.g. uswitch) could then develop apps that would allow you to search for the best mobile phone deal on the market, based on your actual transactions. By putting ownership of data where it should be, there is a huge opportunity to increase competition and drive down costs to consumers.

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