Friday 14 December 2018

Streamr marketplace aims to give data ownership - and its value - back to consumers

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Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Imagine a secure marketplace where you could sell your own data, allowing you to take control of the information you produce - and make money out of it.

Blockchain-backed Streamr is an open source, free-to-use platform that was created to do just that, and big industry players including HPE, Nokia and OSIsoft are getting involved.

Blockchain technologies store blocks of information that are distributed across a network; they have been embraced by a number of business verticals for the traceability and security they bring to transactions online.

CEO Henri Pihkala told Independent.ie that the marketplace project essentially creates a storefront for all data streams, both free and commercial, bringing together buyers and sellers of data.

"Automation is valuable; this has been known in the financial sector for decades now, but it is only being realised in other business verticals following the explosion of IoT, it's changing the environment," he said.

Sitting on top of the blockchain [Ethereum] for speed, scalability and security, the ideal for Steamr is to establish a decentralised peer-to-peer network that allows realtime data to travel through it, hosted on computers around the world.

Part of the project's ambitions is to help firms to design and market their projects in the Internet of Things (IoT) so that the value of data is not all in the hands of the largest tech companies.

Read more: 'The Irish studio started with just myself...now we have 36 employees.' Blockchain firms look to Dublin

"What if a tech giant would build this marketplace for exchanging data for value? We saw that to be a dystopia that we didn't wanted to live in," he said.

With headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, Streamr has about 30 people involved in creating this decentralised tech, operated by the users and community instead of a central administrator.

According to Pihkala, projects like this drives further innovation when it comes to the evolution of smart cities and the technologies we will adopt in our homes and cars in the future.

"In the future, cars will be able to measure environment and driving behaviours; that data today is getting completely ignored, it is valuable to someone but no-one is in existence is acting as broker for that data - or collecting and aggregating that data. It's being ignored or given away for free."

Earlier this month, Streamr partnered with Daisy AI, making the platform the exclusive provider of real-time data for the University of Tokyo project's deep learning algorithms.

"We laid out a vision describing how we thought the new data economy would operate – not just decentralised but also fostering data innovation especially within AI. It’s amazing to see this vision starting to be realised," said Pihkala.

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