We are living in an increasingly digital society in which data has become the most valuable asset a company owns. This has led to a somewhat accurate comparison between data and gold. But an equally valid comparison is that between data and oil because similar to crude oil which acted as a foundation for the world economy, high-quality raw data places itself at the foundation of the emerging AI economy.
Modex Blockchain Database (BCDB) is a new technological solution that merges traditional and new technology to provide an answer to the storage demands generated by the rise of digital assets. By leveraging its intricate technological layer, Modex BCDB ushers in a revolution in data storage mediums by facilitating the creation of data trusts that reshape the way in which companies collect, process, and extract value from raw data.
Modex BCDB provides an alternative to existing data sharing mechanisms by facilitating a new type of data organization and management model, a data trust which reimagines the access, management, utilization, and processing of data to achieve compliance with international regulations concerning the processing of sensitive data.
Furthermore, Modex BCDB addresses one of the main pain points faced by data sharing mechanisms, the interoperability of software, and database systems. Companies rely on different software applications and database engines that make data sharing operations difficult to perform without modifying existing system configurations, a time and resource-demanding process that opens up a new venue of cybersecurity risks.
Thanks to its non-invasive approach to implementation, the solution provided by Modex helps companies set up a data ecosystem backed by blockchain, traditional data storage, and innovative data management mechanisms that guarantee trust and system interoperability through this unique technological fusion.
What is a data trust?
A data trust is a structure in which data is placed under the control of a board of trustees that take on fiduciary responsibility, holding legal or ethical responsibility regarding the interests of beneficiaries. In this context, trust concerning the validity of the information, who accesses it, and to what purpose become fundamental tenets of a data trust. By leveraging its blockchain technological layer, a technology that is known for its ability to guarantee and preserve trust, Modex BCDB acts as an ideal foundation for a data trust infrastructure capable of ensuring cooperation and data sharing while maintaining complete transparency to all parties involved.
Throughout history, data trusts have been used to help make decisions about assets such as property or investments. Although a relatively new concept, data trusts take this concept of holding assets and making decisions about its use, but bring it into a digital context, applying it to data. In its most basic form, it is a legal structure tasked with providing independent stewardship of a large collection of data for the benefit of a consortium of organizations and people.
In a society where data has become the main motor for progress and innovation, data trusts can help companies unlock new business momentum, support research in the medical field, streamline artificial intelligence and machine learning development and play a crucial role in the management and growth of smart city projects dominated by interconnected IoT devices.
Data trust components
Data trusts are composed of five distinct elements that can be defined based on their role in the data trust as well as how they relate to each other. From a high-level overview, a grantor gives an asset to a trustee in order to guarantee that it fulfills a purpose to one or multiple beneficiaries.
A grantor can be a person or a company that owns the original data, which they donate or share with a trust for management. As such a grantor can be a patient that makes his electronic health record available (only after personal data has been de-identified) to a trust for medical research purposes. Manufacturing firms can also act as grantors that share product metrics to build a common pool of raw data that can be analyzed to determine malfunctions or to improve the overall quality of the product. The owners of IoT connected devices is another good example of a grantor.
As the name implies, the main asset in a data trust is any type of data that represents value to a party. The main requirement for data is to be stored within a standard format that makes it accessible to potential beneficiaries. In a smart city context, every piece of data collected over the wide network of IoT connected devices represents a potential asset that can be stored in a data trust for further analysis. Modex BCDB circumvents the barriers posed by the lack of a common standard by enabling the communication between different database engines, leading to a higher degree of data mobility and interoperability. Data trusts might also encourage companies to put in data to enable them to work on projects that serve a common goal.
A trustee is an impartial person or organization that assumes the responsibility for managing the stored assets, in a manner that guarantees trust concerning how data is handled as well as that every beneficiary is treated as an equal. Furthermore, trustees need to be resistant to external financial pressures that may try to subvert trust. Modex BCDB acts as an ideal framework for the creation of a consortium of organizations or companies that benefits from complete traceability and transparency. In a data trust or any trust for that matter, transparency is essential for ensuring that the decision-making process does not serve any hidden interests.
The purpose or goal of a data trust is to integrate a participatory governance system into the decision-making process that defines the rights of beneficiaries to access and use the data records stored within the platform. The purpose of a data trust is codified by the mission and governing principles. If the purpose is breached, beneficiaries can hold trustees accountable for their actions. The complex access control mechanisms facilitated by the Modex BCDB solution enables trustees to grant access in a transparent manner to beneficiaries. Access can be tailored depending on the needs of the beneficiaries to function based on a fixed time table, for a certain predetermined amount of time or until completion.
Beneficiaries are the people, organizations, or companies that use the data assets stored within the trust as a foundation for research and the development of new products and technologies. As such the term beneficiary in a data trust can cover a wide area of businesses, small to medium enterprises, tech companies, and even governments (we have chosen to exclude large corporations from this category because data trusts can prove to act as an equalizer that aims to break the data monopoly of tech and industry giants). Besides innovation in the technology field, especially surrounding the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the results achieved by the beneficiaries of data trusts can be used for the wider public good, such as improved healthcare, streamlined supply chain management, and public transportation. The emergence of near real-time data collection from sensors, infrastructures, and even citizens, gives organizations the opportunity to improve services and data-driven decision making.
The benefits of a data trust built with Modex BCDB
Companies are usually reluctant when faced with the proposition of moving sensitive data from their infrastructures to an external environment, and for a good reason. Data sharing and data transfer operations always come with a set of risks such as data breaches and data corruption that translate not only to significant financial losses but also to reputation damages when customer sensitive data is involved. Often than not, this has put additional pressure on the formation of large-scale data trusts.
Modex BCDB offers a federated approach to data migration that supports the creation of data trusts. Through its blockchain layer, Modex removes the need for companies that wish to contribute to a data trust to relocate a portion of their data assets. By implementing a data distribution algorithm Modex BCDB enables companies to maintain their data records intact. Information is shared over a distributed peer to peer network. Functioning on the principles behind blockchain technology, Modex distributes the data records by creating a cluster of nodes that holds an exact copy of the data that the company wishes to share to a data trust. Paired together with enhanced access control mechanisms, companies can provide a steady stream of new data by granting trustees the right to access designated data records. Once a cluster of nodes has been distributed to the data trust, trustees can act similar to sysadmins and use the access control mechanisms embedded in the BCDB system to grant beneficiaries access privileges.
A major advantage of the BCDB solution is that it acts as a data ecosystem that ensures the integrity and immutability of the information stored. This feature is achieved by combining the familiarity of a traditional database engine with a blockchain backend. Data records stored in the databases have their digital signatures stored on a blockchain network. An added benefit of this feature is that it unlocks complete traceability not only to the information stored, but also showcases which party granted access to the data and how it was utilized.
Unlocking new levels of interoperability
Due to the unique design choices inherent to the BCDB system, companies and businesses can exchange, interpret, and operate on shared data without the hindrances posed by traditional data infrastructures. Besides acting as a technological foundation of trust for the data stored, Modex BCDB facilitates a new data interoperability model:
- Foundational interoperability – in a data trust backed by the BCDB solution, each participant can be allocated a data node. The main advantage is that data exchanges can flow organically between nodes. The main requirement is for trustees to grant their consent.
- Structural interoperability – because of its distributed nature, each Modex BCDB node is designed to seamlessly communicate and exchange data. Furthermore, the BCDB system has an agnostic take on the database engines so parties can utilize what database best suits their needs.
- Semantic interoperability – because data exchange and communication is a vital component of the BCDB network, it’s only natural that each party involved in data exchanges can decipher the content.
- Process interoperability – because each party utilizes the same BCDB infrastructure, data can be easily understood, and processed.
Modex BCDB data trust use case examples
Consider the following scenario. A tech company has been commissioned to develop an AI solution capable of detecting the factors that contribute to the increase of defective medical equipment during the manufacturing process. As with any AI solution, data represents the lifeblood that sets the process in motion. As such the team behind the product needs access to large quantities of data from the manufacturing plant to analyze in hopes of determining a pattern. The AI software has access to production data received from multiple branches of the manufacturing plant located in a single place, a data trust built on top of the Modex BCDB solution. Because we are dealing with a large multinational that has multiple branches all throughout the world the data would be normally dispersed and difficult to manage. But because the information is shared with the trust via BCDB nodes, data management is streamlined.
After careful analysis, the AI solution determines that the cause of the defective equipment isn’t related to the production process itself, but to a defective thermostat that led to random fluctuations in the temperature on the assembly line. In this scenario, the AI was able to determine the cause of the defective medical equipment due to the data transmitted by the wireless thermostat which was collected and sent to the BCDB node.
With the ability to store large volumes of information, data trusts are emerging as a new form of data management and storage medium that promotes a new model of cooperation based on data sharing that removes the legal and technological friction points. Through the suite of technological benefits it provides, Modex BCDB can help organizations lay the foundation for a data trust consortium that manages to guarantee and demonstrate trust through technology.