Imagine a future
where all individuals have their own private data acounts. These data acounts will not just hold people’s data, but also their history and memories, and they can share as much or as little of the data with whomever they please, whether it’s friends, family, healthcare providers or government.
Then imagine the data acount is private, and completely owned by the individual
legally and technically within a database, made intelligent with a containerised ‘micro server’. It is able to go wherever its owner goes, available on demand on their phone, and can be used to fill in forms on the Internet, gain personalised offers or quotations to complement items they have bought previously. More importantly, this acount can use a person’s own data to help them make better decisions, gain insights into their spending or fitness habits, and call up their own personal memory bot.
This data acount is available now
and it’s called the HAT – the Hub-of-All-Things. It was built by a team of researchers from a £1.2m RCUK grant project among 6 UK Universities. The technology was then released as open sourced. However, the project recognised that it wasn’t just the technology that needed designing but the entire ecosystem, with its own rules, services, transactions and economic and business models. Six briefing papers were published on how the ecosystem should be implemented and governed.
The project was handed over to the newly founded HAT Community Foundation and HAT Data Exchange Ltd (HATDeX) in February 2016, who were tasked with the implementation of the ecosystem. Over the course of 2016, the group developed the HAT into a viable offering and released it in November 2016 along with a technology suite of services to facilitate private and market data exchanges.
Imagine the HAT to be analogous to an email
Just like the way you chose your email provider, you can choose who you trust to be your HAT provider. And, because of the way the technology is built, you can easily move your HAT to another provider (unlike email). You can also move it to your own private secure server at home, if you have one.
To govern this system, a global standard for personal data exchanges is needed
HATDeX is a commercial organisation that manages all the HAT data exchanges in the system, implementing the research-led global standard for personal data exchanges between different HAT service providers and individuals worldwide. HATDeX is in turn regulated by the HAT Community Foundation, a non-profit organisation of which all HAT users (called HATTERs) are collectively part, and which also certifies and regulates all HAT organisations for privacy, security and confidentiality.
The HAT ecosystem is a community
of innovators, researchers, organisations and users who collectively believe in personal data empowerment and control. Even though HATDeX manages and updates the open source code repository, no one really owns the HAT technology. It is free for partners to commercialise, so it depends on the community to build on it and, if they choose to, share what they have built with one another.