Big Data - does anyone own data? Can anyone own data?

If big data is about the explosion of data of all types — payment, location coordinates; attention, habits, machine data; my social data then only a fraction of that data (not yet information or knowledge) resides in traditional databases. Conceptually (the analysis of the data to create value) overwhelms traditional database and analytics tools, giving rise to a new generation of cloud computing technologies: the Hadoop data framework, NoSQL databases, and big data analytics.

As addressed in the book, not all data is created equal (in value terms) and finding the right data, applying the right analytics to it, and letting it deal with real-world problems is hard work strategically. One session, in Davos (WEF) was called Decoding the Data Deluge, chaired by Jan Hesthaven, a professor of applied mathematics from Brown University, deals with the upside opportunity these huge data sets can enable.

From the course description: It’s a funny thing about data: If you look up “data” in the literature, it invariably comes laden with negative baggage – words such as “overload” and “deluge”. With terms such as these, no wonder scientists and scholars alike shy away! But instead of resisting large data sets, we should be embracing them. Multinational companies are learning how to work with large data sets, and they’re getting better at it all the time. But mid-size and smaller businesses don’t have that expertise. Yet the largest companies will benefit greatly if smaller businesses, many of them key to their supply, production and workforce, can, too, handle massive data. Such ease of data handling can grease the wheels of global commerce.

This was one of several sessions touching on the topic. Another, Personal Data: The “New Oil” of the 21st Century, dealt with the proliferation of personal data generated by new intelligent devices, networks and software and how to build a personal data ecosystem that will “spur economic and societal value without undermining privacy and civil liberties.” Another session, Convergence on the Go, attacked the consolidation of data voice, video and cellular communications services and its impact on  society.  There is also a report: Big Data, Big Impact New possibilities for International Development  which outlines the impact the collection and proper application of big data can have on financial services, education, agriculture, and healthcare.

According to the report:

Data collected through mobile devices, whether captured by health workers, submitted by individuals, or analysed in the form of data exhaust, can be a crucial tool in understanding population health trends or stopping outbreaks . When collected in the context of individual electronic health records, this data not only improves continuity of care for the individual, but it can be used to create massive datasets with which treatments and outcomes can be compared in an efficient and cost effective manner.


The issue of who owns what data is huge and there is a fundamental question - does anyone any data or do we just have rights?