All stories have a beginning, but the origins of some go further back than most.
The story of Consentry – digi.me’s new Covid-19 safety platform, which helps keep people healthy and locations safe during the pandemic – first begins far further back than the start of this year. All the way back in the 1980s, in fact.
That was when our founder, Julian Ranger, was working on the beginnings of what would become the military internet, exploring the possibilities of data sharing so that pilots could see a complete tactical picture from within their aircraft.
Going on to start his own military systems business at 23 in 1986 – “there is something about being naive, you don’t know what you don’t know”, he told the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) in a recent fireside chat – resulted in the creation of the iSMART data interoperability system and processes, which is still in place around the world today.
More pertinently to what would become digi.me and Consentry, it also sparked an important observation. “It became obvious,” says Julian “that the only way to get and aggregate data about the individual was at the individual.”
This became the inspiration for how to solve what he knew to be a personal data problem, doing, as he saw it, the same job in a different domain.
Understanding that innovation goes in cycles, he also realised something that has become crucial to digi.me’s vision and purpose – that it is not access to data which is the key issue, but the value proposition that makes people want to share their information. And that, ultimately, there is no better trust than asking people directly.
As he pointed out to the MEF’s Dario Betti, who was hosting the fireside chat, thanks to the wealth of social media, health and wearables data we can all generate and then access: “The days of data poverty are disappearing – anyone can be data rich.”
Digi.me’s role in this brave new world is to be a data facilitator – managing the consent processes between consumers willing to share their data, and brands or authorities giving them a compelling reason to do so.
This, then, brings us back to the present and the launch of Consentry, a service built on the digi.me platform.
Consentry is designed to protect businesses, to enable them to operate as safely as possible amid the pandemic, by giving them a 360 view of their staff and locations. Daily self-assessments, which can be shared anonymously, ensure any infections among employees are known, and crucially, flagged days earlier than otherwise. Test results can also be inputted and shared.
A system of QR codes, which employees use to check in and out of each zone within a building or factory, for eg meetings rooms, breakout rooms and social areas, ensure that if someone does become ill a proportional response can be mounted, instead of blanket closure of an entire premises or company and isolation for all employees.
Combined, these measures allow companies to effectively manage their Covid risk, and deal with any rising problems proactively, rather than reactively.
Crucially, Consentry is 100 per cent private, with a dashboard that shares anonymised insights from employee activity, allowing hotspots to be identified while maintaining individual privacy. Importantly, it is also very simple to implement.
Platforms such as Consentry, Julian believes, will be the forerunner to a full, national citizen-centric infrastructure, based on consented sharing of data – and “governments need to move on this fast”.
Ultimately, Julian believes: “Everything becomes easier when we do things from the individuals out. Covid has shown that you need to have individuals at the centre, sharing their data.
“Within the next five years, I’m absolutely certain that we’ll have a new Personal Data Economy and citizen centricity will become a de facto standard. Everyone will be doing it, because it’s so obvious, so easy.”
While, he acknowledged, there would be “issues around the side” which need addressing, in addition to the enormous benefits which a massive increase in the velocity of personal data sharing would create, ultimately the future is very exciting – for all of us.
- To find out more about Consentry, or book a free trial, click here.