Incentives and disincentives to have a commons-based data integration solution

The advantage of building your own point solution is that you have complete control over that particular data integration challenge. This will be the correct solution for some kinds of interest – those with more interest in controlling and owning data as a business model, for example. So a Data Commons solution is not for everyone.

For people and organisations who want data to deliver value (rather than owning it to generate a dividend by on-selling it), and who want to enable the benefits of reuse, the advantages of doing this via the commons protocol are several:

  • They will be able to illustrate to the people they want to sign up that they are building their special project in a high-trust way which gives a lot of control back to the signee.

  • Once there is data already on the Data Commons, it becomes very easy and low-cost to add some extra data and integrate your solution with the existing data on the commons. So this is a low-cost and efficient platform for your particular use of integrated data. Leveraging off the market rather than building a bespoke solution will be cheaper and more scalable.

  • There will be a real market of participants needing high-trust solutions whom you can do business with, and who value a commons-based approach to forming a data sharing relationship with you. They can trust that people won’t on-sell or misuse their science data or personal data.

  • Your solution won’t be fragmented: if Samsung stays off the commons, its heartbeat sensor will never be more than just a toy. But if a New Zealand entrepreneur’s heartbeat sensor is hooked into the commons, it can be joined with people’s medical records and what they eat from their supermarket shopping basket and directly shared with their general practitioner to become a complete personal health solution. The heartbeat sensor that can integrate data using the commons protocols moves from toy to service enabler. These kinds of “economies of scope” mean that you’ll be able to design better services for your customers through the high-trust use of their integrated data rather than staying fragmented and in control of siloed data that is of lower value to everybody.

  • Growth of value with scope is non-linear: as the network builds in more kinds of data and a larger number of data providers and users, the commons becomes exponentially more valuable for its members as the innovative uses of more data integration grow geometrically as well.

In short, we think that the availability of a commons-based approach will generate increased value for the community as it grows and will likely put pressure on siloed “ownership” interests to integrate their data for fear of being able to provide only a poor service by comparison. For the individual entrepreneur who is trying to do some social good, manage socialinvestment, or build a commercial service, the benefits of using a commons-based approach will far outweigh any value obtained from a point solution.

The Data Commons enables a competition in ideas and innovation to drive value, not extraction of value from ownership. It’s a very different beast to what is now possible. This is why people don’t go off and design their own Internet protocol. The value of the network is in everyone else who is on it. We wait patiently for an update to the protocol as the community of common interest refines it. Then there is mutual value in hopping on board to drive the value we seek.

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