Dimension Data has partnered up with Western Sydney University (WSU) to create a new data services platform, under the banner of Mass Data Observations.
The platform - developed under a co-innovation agreement between both parties - aims to combine and analyse multiple data sources including public data sets, archives, social data feeds, data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices, in addition to qualitative and quantitative data through ‘data contributor communities’.
The platform enables secure analysis of multiple sources of data in order to gain new insights spanning several areas such as health, civics and society, education, consumer behaviour, urban planning; environment and economics.
At the front end of Mass Data Observations, data collectors, referred to as ‘data rangers,’ use a smartphone app to contribute data through surveys, polls and research projects that interest them.
Data ‘explorers/ researchers’ can then use the platform to post their projects or challenges and aggregate the data they need to test hypotheses.
The intelligent data services platform automates much of the data acquisition and integration process, allowing researchers to have their questions addressed quickly, with greater frequency and at a lower cost.
Dimension Data Australia CTO, Debra Bordignon, said creating an ecosystem approach enabled mass data collection, aggregation and analysis from a wide variety of sources including personal data, IoT, social channels as well as existing data sets and applications.
“No matter where the data originates, it can integrate with Mass Data Observations,” she said. “The platform has elevated data management to data value management.
"Discrete and disparate data sets can now be combined securely and ethically in new ways which will reassure data owners, and revolutionise the way organisations engage with communities and how data can be shared to conduct qualitative and quantitative research."
During the trial phase of the platform, more than 2500 WSU students contributed more than 20,000 individual responses to surveys and polls via the app.
With the user’s full agreement, researchers can combine responses and experiences with other data sets such as census data.
The next stage involves early adopter trials with interested organisations and is expected to cover health and community-related use cases - this will then be followed through with a managed service offering.
According to Dimension Data, the data collected is for clearly stated purposes and strictly governed by the platform’s machine-based governance, assured by ethical standards and processes. The platform uses San-Shi, a secure data computation system developed through NTT R&D Labs.
San-Shi uses ‘secret sharing’ and ‘secure multi-party computation’ principles and techniques.
“We identified it [San-Shi] as a complementary solution to Mass Data Observations, as the platform demands a computing environment that enables aggregation and processing of personal information while keeping the data securely protected at all times,” WSU deputy-vice chancellor research and innovation, Professor Deborah Sweeney, said.