Data sharing: big benefits with big data
Recently I discussed how advances in technology, and its increasing affordability, are contributing to the growth and availability of big data. Now, with reasonably priced hardware, and smart software we can rapidly sift through big data for nuggets of information and helpful advice.
Organisations all over the world are using big data to:
- improve operational efficiencies
- reduce business costs
- originate ideas for new products and services
- generate new insights
But is it all green lights and speedy uptake for big data?
Of course, to obtain the most benefit from big data we typically have to collect data from multiple sources. In short, we have to share.
However, while data sharing is beneficial, it is also difficult, and carries elements of risk.
While it’s true that the list above reads like a win at every point, and there is indeed growth in the spread of big data, there remains several significant hurdles to overcome.
Sharing is beneficial, but it is also difficult and risky.
You can share with care
One of the big hurdles is the wariness organisations have in sharing their data with others. Sometimes information provides power. Other times it protects competitive advantage. Not surprisingly this causes a reluctance to participate in some organisations.
The solution here of course is to take care of what you share, in order to safeguard your organisation’s position. Data sharing does not require all data to be shared.
Companies and customers
Why share? Always because there is an expectation of benefit. Over and above benefits for business, there may also be community benefits. For example:
- providing public transport arrival times in real-time – transport companies can better manage their fleet, customers get accurate arrival times, resulting in better patronage of the service
- a concept like Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which needs all the information it can get for its multimodal ambitions, will come to fruition, sooner rather than later
- sharing freight data saves transport companies time and effort, and should lead to better service for customers
Sharing data is not a black and white question. In each situation the parties must ask themselves:
- What data?
- For what use?
- What do I get out of it?
- What risks does this create?
Ariel Gold, data program manager for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office at the US Department of Transport, put it this way:
Starting a conversation around data can be sensitive, it kind of shuts down dialogue sometimes. One of the keys to success in this area has been to find those nuggets of mutual benefit. In the automated vehicle space, we turn the typical question around. Not asking ‘What data do you need?’ but saying ‘What problem are you trying to solve?’
Government is on the right track
An important partner is discussions of big data is the government. Across the world transport authorities are getting better at sharing data, which has resulted in the many transport apps we use every day. Australian transport authorities too have made a good start on sharing transport data.
No doubt about it, data, and the sharing of it, will transform the ways we move people and freight. There are multiple benefits for those entering the data sharing economy, but our big challenge is to find a balance between data protection and open data.
We’re in the early days of being more open with our data, but if we get it right, and if there is equity and respect in these arrangements, trust will be built, and entry and participation will accelerate. In the 21st Century, if data is the new oil then data sharing is the new handshake.
And the other hurdle on the widespread use and openness of big data? Privacy… more on that in next month’s iMOVE Monthly!