Nathaniel Lin

Unlocking the Power of Data  - the NFPA Analytics Sandbox

Blog Post created by Nathaniel Lin Employee on Jan 7, 2016

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.

For Consumers

    • 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

For Businesses
    • 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.

 

 

NFPA Analytics Sandbox.jpg

The NFPA Analytics Sandbox will be designed with the following characteristics:
Separate, Secured & Privacy Compliant. To avoid inadvertent access and un-authorized use, the NFPA Analytics Sandbox will reside in its own secured and privacy-compliant server environment that is kept separate from all other internal data, NFPA or partner marketing, and information systems.
Stakeholder Participation in Rule Setting. Data owners can work out with NFPA the business rules governing acceptable levels of privacy, confidentiality (securing data from competitors) and security compliance while allowing the "Sandbox" team to experiment and create unique values from shared and integrated data. Rules will then be "hard-wired" into MDM (Master Data Management) system to ensure automatic compliance.
Limited Use and Duration. As the only objective of the Sandbox is to create value for the stakeholder community, once the data is integrated or aggregated, the original "raw data" can be either archived or deleted. In all cases, no personal identifiable information (PII) will be stored once a unique Sandbox identifier has been created for analytics.
Ability to "Play" in the Sandbox. Business participants in the Sandbox may be able to "play" in the Sandbox and provide input to the Sandbox team – ultimately creating high value solutions that are tailored for them.
Validated Solutions. Proposed solutions from the Sandbox will be "tested" in-situ with the participation of respective stakeholders using scientific control methods and real-life business conditions.
Operationalize Validated Solutions. Based on stakeholder needs, the Sandbox team will use insights gleaned from the Sandbox exercises to inform stakeholders how best to operationalize solutions and create new business opportunities.
Who should join the NFPA Analytics Sandbox consortium?
Essentially everyone who can benefit from key insights derived from integrated data and leading-edge analytics should consider joining the Sandbox community. Those who join early will enjoy the benefits of defining how the Sandbox is to be set up and will ensure that their needs are included in initial Sandbox exercises.
Benefits of Sandbox membership
Participants joining the NFPA Analytics Sandbox will enjoy:
  1. A broader view of the market and potential customers beyond their own data silos.
  2. Access to innovations and solutions, which should translate into new revenues and a competitive edge.
  3. Market share growth from new business opportunities that are identified within the Sandbox.

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