What will a Person Data Commons look like?

It is hard to predict in advance exactly what the solution will look like but, if the six Data Commons principles are applied, it is almost certain to have several key elements (see diagram below).

A person is likely to have their own “personal data wallet”, a bit like a Bitcoin wallet, to facilitate their control. This will have several key functions:

  • It is a Personal Information Management System. I get to upload and manage my own data: I can set permissions for non-personalised uses of my story (who can use my data in a non-personal way); form and terminate data reuse relationships for individual personal uses of my story; and extract a copy of the data we have co-produced together (like number portability, I can take a copy of my data with me).

  • It provides access to the market for service providers – rather like an app store where entrepreneurs can market various personalised reuses and services reliant on access to part of a person’s story. So a person could buy an app that uses the protocols shared by the commons.

  • It may be the method by which any surplus value generated by the commons gets shared back with the individual who has a share in the commons (by sharing their story for non-personal uses).

  • If the person terminates their relationship with the commons (for example if they lose trust because the government seeks to nationalise it), their data wallet may enable them to take a copy out and keep a record of their story, in case they want to hook back in or join a rival (more trustworthy) commons. It is possible that a person’s personal data wallet will be located on their own digital device (computer, cell phone) and can be added or removed from the commons as per their needs.

  • Any use of their data on the commons might be tracked and monitored – showing who is using data for what – to provide transparency across the community.

This commons PIMS probably needs in the first instance to be commissioned by a commons foundation. However, it is just one portal onto the commons, and rival commons PIMS should be possible – if they meet the community protocol standards.

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