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The Internet of Trust

Building trust is the responsibility of every digital stakeholder in the UK, is the clear message of a new report, ‘Trust in Personal Data’ published by the Digital Catapult, which concludes that,“building that trust will be one of the key dependencies in creating better citizen services and improving the way we all live”.

In a far reaching survey of over 4,000 consumers in Q1 of 2015, it assesses the UK’s journey to becoming a data-driven nation and in Dame Wendy Hall’s foreword she rightly states that the public not only need to “trust the organisations holding and using their data, but also to fully understand why the data is needed….and without this digital literacy we are at risk of losing out in the race towards a digital-first society”.

That data is only as useful as the insight it creates, was one of the key themes from the recent Digital 2015 conference and there was a sense in a number of the presentations that too many organisations are racing to create ever more online platforms to produce an exponential level of data without necessarily bringing a public understanding of why, what, when and how their data will be used.

Data, its use and the policies, aims and ambitions that lie behind its collection, are at the core of the work that the Corsham Institute is developing around trust and how citizens and communities can benefit from all of the data that is collected from them. The Digital Catapult survey shows that the majority of people would be happy to share their information if it was to be used to benefit society as a whole, such as in healthcare and education.

All of our interaction with the digital world today and increasingly over the coming years as the Internet of Things make ever more objects around us connected, raises both policy questions as well as many practical issues about how people can trust the way that their data is used.

Cisco for instance, discussing the Internet of Everything at Digital 2015, estimated that 50 billion ‘things’ will be connected by 2020 and by the end of next year internet traffic will reach a Zettabyte. To save you getting the calculator out, 1ZB is equal to a trillion Gigabytes or a billion Terabytes of data.

The majority of us probably click our acceptance of various company’s data privacy policies, or acknowledge regularly updated ones, without too much pause for thought in our online haste to acquire a product or service and then experience targeted advertising that uses our own data turned back on ourselves. Nearly 80% of those surveyed for the Digital Catapult report believe their data is being used solely for an organisation’s economic gain.

At the Digital 2015 conference, it was noted that in regard to online services or email providers, that if you’re not paying for the service, then in reality, you are not actually the customer of it, but you and your information become the product itself, as your data will be used for a myriad of purposes outside of your control.

As the internet develops even further, the use of data will become an ever greater issue as people become more aware of its use and begin to query more what rights and information they are clicking away by the, all too simple, acceptance box.

With one of the aims for digital services defined in the UK Government’s White Paper on Digital Society in 21st Century Britain, that people develop into‘digital citizens’, who use IT to “engage in politics, society, discourse, government and the economy”, and as more and more national and local services are delivered online through the transformation of public services, the debate around trust will need to become the focus of much more research to ensure people are still willing to engage online with everything that is available to them.

94% of those questioned for the Digital Catapult report would like to be more in control of the data they share, how they share it and what they get for it, so there is great potential for products and services to be created to meet the need for the management of personal data.

Through the highly connected ‘living laboratory’ that Digital Corsham will provide, the Corsham Institute will offer the ideal platform for academics and industry to conduct research programmes in this area and we will connect wide-ranging capabilities to test a broad palette of digital initiatives, app development and new technologies that could become future, essential models for our digital society, with initiatives and platforms that can be trusted and used by all citizens with real confidence that their privacy and data are protected.

Only then will the Internet of Trust become a reality.

To read the full Digital Catapult report ‘Trust in Personal Data: A UK Review’, follow this link: and to find out more about Digital 2015 the link is