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Wednesday 20 February 2019
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The Challenges and Benefits of Data Decentralization

The Challenges and Benefits of Data Decentralization

A New way to store data?

Tim Berners-Lee, who is the founder of the World Wide Web, announced that he was leading a new project to change the way that we interact with the Internet. Berners-Lee’s project, Solid, is intended to place control over data in the hands of the users.

The Solid ecosystem is primarily based on the concept of PODs, which refer to spaces where an individual is able to keep their data, according to Jonathan Bingham, who is the President and CEO of Janeiro Digital. For example, some individuals might use a POD to store their pictures, medical records, and birth certificate. PODs allow users (individual or business) to retain ownership over all of things they would do to an application that equates to their digital identity.

The website for Solid describes PODs as secure USB sticks for the Internet that can be accessed from anywhere. When you give an individual access to parts of a POD, they are able to share memories and react to photos. You will be able to decide which things people and apps are able to see.

Disparate data storage should be a thing of the past!

The concept would be especially appealing to individuals who are tired of having their data tied up in many different places while having very little control over it once it has been released into the world. Currently, applications are usable through centralized data stored on servers. However, data decentralization would allow applications to be used by asking for permission to access data in a POD. This would occur on a transaction-by-transaction and on a day-to-day basis.

Healthcare and organizations would greatly benefit

Not only does this technology change the way we interact with our web/desktop/mobile apps, but it also has many practical applications. For example, it would revolutionize the way health records are handled. Currently, a patient may have health data scattered if they have been to different hospitals or have seen different doctors. It is more difficult for health care professionals to provide quality health services if this plethora of information is not easily and quickly accessible to be able to make better diagnosis or health decisions. On the other hand, having all this data contained in one POD would make the job of health care professionals much easier and much more accurate.  Having the complete health picture of a patient is what this movement to digital has been all about.

What this means for hospitals and other health care institutions is that they will become an entity that has to request access to data rather than store the data on their own servers. Most experts would agree that when hospitals and healthcare organization store data on their own servers it is at risk.  Neither hospitals nor patients gain any benefits by storing their health data on the servers instead of PODs.

Technology to directly benefit users to control their data

A new application will need to be created in order to make this type of data storage and retrieval interactions possible. It is necessary for the requestor to be able to view the data, so it must be in a standardized format. Also, the information must be submitted back to the user to be able to share. It will be the responsibility of the control application to take this information and copy it over to the POD. That way, the POD is storing the most up-to-date information.

At some point, there will need to be a shift in the way applications interact with the data. They will need to go from a centralized data store in an organization to a distributed store. The people will be the owners of PODs and will have complete control and the ability to switch on and off access.

While data centralization does have its challenges, the benefits of implementing data centralization far outweigh the disadvantages. For more information about the transition to data centralization strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.




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