At a recent NFPA Smart Home Summit, hosted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, one could have easily been carried away by the exciting opportunities afforded by the availability of novel sensor data that have been promised by the IoT (Internet of Things) world. However, upon closer consideration, I noticed very little data is actually usable. There are formidable barriers that prevent any data sharing and integration efforts. This dilemma calls to mind the frustration expressed in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 18th century poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - "water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink".
The poet laments the fact that mariners died of thirst in the sea not because of the lack of water but a void of "palatable" water. Likewise, in a sea of data today, little can be done if the data exists in "silos" caused by reluctance or data owners' fear of sharing data.
Reasons data owners fear sharing data
There are many reasons why data is not shared. In most cases it may involve some, if not all, of the reasons listed below. To facilitate sharing, concerns must be properly addressed to alleviate the data owner's resistance. Since consumers and businesses jointly own consumer data, we will look at their concerns separately.
- Perceived harm due to privacy compromises and identity theft
- Loss of control or leaking of their sensitive personal data
- Distrust of government and businesses who may potentially mis-use their data
- Loss of valued customers to their competitors
- Loss of the "secret sauce" behind their unique competitive edge
- No tangible benefits if they were to share data
- Loss of control in managing access, privacy, confidentiality, security and length of time that data is kept once it has been shared (and any other critical data governance issues) and suffer the repercussions
- Incompatible policy and standards between businesses and recipients of shared data
How NFPA can help
In its 120-year history, NFPA has established a reputation for being the go-to 3rd party in Fire Protection - an independent, neutral non-profit NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). Through the codes and standards process, NFPA has been able to bring diverse stakeholders - with sometimes conflicting objectives - together and work out a solution that is acceptable to all parties. This process provides fire and electrical safety benefits to the wider community. One way that NFPA can assist in alleviating stakeholder concerns today is to set up an NFPA Analytics Sandbox (NAS). The NAS environment will also serve as a test bed for new ideas and innovations made possible by the integrated shared data.
- A broader view of the market and potential customers beyond their own data silos.
- Access to innovations and solutions, which should translate into new revenues and a competitive edge.
- Market share growth from new business opportunities that are identified within the Sandbox.