Now that data has surpassed Oil as the world’s most valuable resource, we are hearing more headlines regarding how the big players in the tech industry are collecting it and using it. However, while some companies might only look to profit from our data, others are looking to help provide users with greater clarity. One of these companies is Biotron, a fully transparent personal data analytics platform empowering individuals and organizations.
A Wired article recently discussed genetic data on the blockchain. What other types of data do you see being sold on blockchain now or in the future?
I’d love to see all the kinds of data out there available to blockchain and not just have it just siloed within a handful of companies. That’s actually the current problem. To enable innovation, everyone should have access to data. Whether we’re talking about location data, traffic data, or any kind of data, it’s only when we’re able to combine datasets that we’ll be able to solve the most pressing issues. Take Nebula mentioned on Wired as an example. If you take genetic data and combine it with information from smart-watches and other devices, you could easily predict what kind of health conditions users will develop and suggest changes to their behaviour.
In what other areas of society do you see Blockchain technology having a huge impact?
At first, we want to focus on location intelligence and transport. These are industries that are already developed but are suffering from a lack of transparency and privacy issues; not to mention the low quality of the data that is currently available. We want to give users clear control over what data is being collected about them and how it is used. Next, we’ll start working with health data, such as genetics. We’re already discussing potential partnerships in all these industries. Our goal is to show first results and announce partners in early March before the public ITE goes live.
Many large tech companies are now under fire as users are becoming more conscious of their data. Why do you think we have witnessed this growing concern in society regarding the use of our data?
It’s all about transparency. The general public has no idea about what is possible when it comes to their data. They have no idea what is being collected or how it is used, and they are concerned. It’s natural. Security is another issue, personal data could leak and the ramifications can really hurt people’s lives. Everyone in this industry has to be extremely careful. At Biotron.io we want to take a more proactive approach. Part of our journey is about explaining why is it good to share even your personal data and how you can (and should!) be benefiting from it.
Control of data is now a huge concern for many in society. But what was the main motivator for Biotron.io to solve this problem, for example, did it arise from a personal experience or something others had issues with?
There were several different motivators in the team. Peter (CMO) wanted to solve the health part of the problem. Enabling research and innovation beyond current possibilities through the sharing of genetic data and combining it with other datasets. I’ve been working in the transport and location industry for six years, so my obvious interest is there – to eliminate traffic jams even before the adoption of autonomous vehicles.
What do you consider Biotron’s greatest achievement within the past 6 months?
I’m extremely proud of the team we were able to onboard. Our combined experience and knowledge is huge and covers a lot of different industries. The initial investment we got on day one was really helpful too!
Who do you consider to be your main competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
In each industry, we want to disrupt there are a couple of big players that are already established. However, in the long run, we’d like to take a shot at the really big ones – companies like Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook. They possess tremendous amounts of information that they don’t really share. On one hand, it’s understandable, they want to protect their businesses models and their users to a degree. However, they’re the ones creating data silos and preventing innovation on a much bigger scale.
The upcoming GDPR is likely to have a huge impact on how businesses handle data. What do you foresee being the largest change that will occur within businesses?
GDPR is actually a great opportunity for us, as Biotron.io will be GDPR compliant right from the beginning and we’ll be able to ask users’ permission on any dataset we’d like, as this is our core business. Another positive factor is the data portability, this will enable us to get data from other services as well.
How do you think users’ attitudes towards their data being bought and sold will change over the next five years?
It is really hard to tell because you cannot really compare it to anything in the past. I hope this will become the new norm and most people will be OK with it. It’s us—the companies collecting and using the data—that are responsible for how it is collected and how we will be perceived by the general public. If people can see the innovation that improves their well-being, I’m certain they will be more likely to share their anonymous information.