Worldwide, the amount of data is increasing exponentially. Yet we only use one percent of all our data for sharing and analysis. With that we leave a valuable part of all that information undisturbed. How to turn the tide? Digital infrastructure consultant Wouter Los: ‘If we want to share data with each other, then trust is necessary.’
Why do we prefer to keep all that data to ourselves?
‘In the end, everyone has the same question: how can I be sure that someone else doesn’t run off with my data? So: can I share my data reliably and under my conditions? You don’t want someone else to claim co-ownership like the big guys at Amazon do. Now if you’re starting an online store, it’s easy to use Amazon’s infrastructure. But through their data software they can also see what you want to sell and who your customers are. What we want is an open data market for companies, governments and every individual.’
And that no one will run off with your data.
‘Yes, the name Amsterdam Data Exchange (AMdEX) ensures that people and organizations share their data under their own conditions and with the same rules of the game. With other like-minded initiatives, we want a European alternative, decentralized, not dominated by big players. And without political dimensions, like in China, where the state controls all data.”
Is AMdEX a forerunner in this field?
‘As a trusted third party, the Netherlands has historically played an important role in the country of trade and services, with innovations such as the stock market. The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) – one of the most important internet hubs in Europe – once started that way. In the early 1990s, the internet was still very small. It has since exploded.
We are now in a similar situation. Once we can “trade” our data with certainty and confidence, as with AMdEX, the data economy can explode in the same way.
That means a revolution. In addition to the traditional physical manufacturing industry and trade, there will also be room for analyzing and/or combining data that support the traditional industry and that also make new digital data products and services a reality.
‘I always like to compare it to how our food was once produced. In the past, everyone lived on a small farm where people were self-sufficient. If you had leftover food, you sold it at a roadside stall. The ‘market’ was an innovation where farmers sold their products; a place where you can specialize, compare products, with market rules and your own infrastructure. Only later did the supermarkets or the niche providers that focus on certain products with quality. This gave farmers opportunities that they did not have before. But also new economic activity with transporters, cold stores, new products, etc. In fact, the same thing happens with data; people now keep it for themselves and what they have left they sell on a web address. But once there is a safe marketplace for data, a new economy can grow very quickly.’