Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace

IOT and Data Hoarding

The Internet of Things (IoT) is here. Already, there are hundreds of millions, even billions of IoT devices out in the world. Despite their ubiquity, many people are still confused about what IoT is. It’s basically any device that is connected to the internet via a wifi or Bluetooth connection for the primary purpose of gathering data. Most people will think of smartwatches or Fitbits that mostly track health data. However, the IoT is made of much, much more than that. IoT devices can include anything from a connected refrigerator to a drill that lets you monitor its battery life from your phone, to a big tractor harvesting crops in the massive industrial farms out in the plain states. These kinds of internet-connected devices will only continue to proliferate in the years to come. One may wonder why they are becoming increasingly common. Why are companies so focused on making them and why do people want to spend their money to get them?

The reason companies are busily cranking these things out is simple, they recognize that data has value and are trying to collect as much of it as possible. What will they do with all of that data? In a lot of cases, they don’t even know. Indeed, this is part of a much larger problem. But we’ll get back to that.                                               

For the people on the other end of it, the individuals shelling out their shekels for these widgets, there are several different motivations. One of course is just having the new thing, which for some reason still motivates a lot of people. More practically, the connectivity has various uses. The many different health trackers for example keep track of basic information like heart rate, blood pressure, amount of physical activity, how much you sleep and so forth. Having that kind of information constantly tracked and recorded can be a very effective tool when it comes to improving your health. With an IoT fitness tracker you can see what the effects of a change to your diet or exercise routine are and see that very quickly, allowing you to evaluate and modify those changes. 

In more mundane matters, your IoT toaster can let you know when your Pop-Tarts are done if you wandered outside after putting them in. Or your fridge can let you know that it’s time to buy new eggs, or throw out the ones you bought two months ago because it turns out you don’t like making eggs for breakfast that much.           

What about that problem we had to get back to? Too often, people think that just recording and hoarding data is all that needs to happen. That somehow if you just have a constant stream of information coming in, that will help you make better decisions. But having servers full of ones and zeroes helps no one. That data needs to be processed and sorted. That means you are going to need some algorithms to help you do that. Where companies fall short is thinking that the algorithm is always accurate. In reality, it is based on various assumptions that may or may not be true. Sure, you can track the results of decisions made based on the information those algorithms provide to see if they are in fact accurate. However, that might be very time consuming and costly. Why not go to the source? What not get to the ‘why’ behind the data? That will help you validate your algorithms faster and even develop better ones in the first place. 

The TARTLE data marketplace provides companies with the ability to do exactly that. By signing up as a buyer, companies can get in direct contact with the audience they want to reach and learn from them why they made the decisions they made. It also works as the world’s most effective and reactive suggestion box, allowing customers to give their feedback directly to a company to help build better products and services. In the end, that benefits both the companies and the customers. One gets a better product and the other gets a better bottom line. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Farming the IOT

Farming technology and the IoT is constantly improving. While the basic design of the modern harvester has been around since the 19th century, its design has undergone a variety of improvements over the decades since. The latest is the inclusion of technology that monitors the speed of the machine and how quickly it picks up crops and other variables. Essentially, John Deere and others have turned their tractors into Internet of Things (IOT) devices. 

Such additions are becoming increasingly common. John Deere even has a head of technology now. The reasons for this are simple. Farming like everything else is a highly competitive industry which means farmers are always trying to find new ways to squeeze a few extra dollars out of their crops. Combine that with a growing global population and increasing concern for the environment and farmers are perhaps under more pressure than anyone else to find new ways to use data to improve their operations. 

What does this data tell farmers? Most obviously, it tells them how well their machines are running. If a combine’s fuel efficiency goes down or it deviates even slightly from a straight line, it can be an early indicator of a mechanical problem that it would be a lot cheaper to fix sooner than later. It can also tell you how well the crop is doing. If there is more or less wheat in a given acre than the next one, it can be indicative of a difference in soil quality, amount of sunlight, or even water distribution. Compared with data from previous years, it can track how well the soil overall is doing. Should there be a small drop in production, a farmer can check to see if his field is deficient in any way. The beauty of using data taken directly from the farmer’s machines is that even small deviations can be tracked, identifying issues long before all but the most experienced of farmers would notice them. 

The downside of this is that often the farmers themselves don’t have access to the data that they are generating. It is far too common that the manufacturers are the only ones directly getting data from the machines they make. Typically, farmers see none of the data from the machine they bought. Unless this is your first time here, you know how we at TARTLE feel about that. We think everyone, especially farmers who grow the food we all depend on, should own the data they generate. Think about it, does it make any sense that a farmer spends tens of thousands of dollars on a tractor filled with sensors, do all the work with the tractor, and not own the data collected by those sensors? Can you imagine if the manufacturer actually sold the farmer the data he was already generating? It doesn’t seem exactly fair does it? If the manufacturer were to provide a full data analysis in return for some money that would be different, though it should still be the farmer’s choice to do so.

That’s exactly why both, the farmer and the manufacturer should sign up with TARTLE. That way, the farmer gets full control over all the data he is generating and can choose whether or not he would like to sell it to the manufacturer, the county he lives in, or an independent analysis firm. Or all of them. In this way, the famer isn’t getting taken advantage of, the manufacturer still gets what they need to build a better tractor in the next production run, and more data becomes available to third parties who would benefit from it, without shelling out a premium to the manufacturer. TARTLE and its members can literally help bring a little fairness and equity to the farming industry.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Searching for Cookies

Everyone knows what cookies are. Those annoying little bits of code that follow you everywhere on the internet. Nearly every website has them and they use them to determine your browsing and shopping habits so they can put the most tantalizing ads in front of you. They also sell all that sweet, sweet data to others so they can tailor their own marketing. If it bothers you that all of these different companies are tracking you so closely, you aren’t alone. 

Don’t worry though! Google ‘may’ have found a ‘privacy friendly’ substitute for cookies. You’ll pardon us if we don’t break out the party hats and spinners just yet. First, what do they mean by ‘may’? Did they or did they not? If you don’t know, kindly come back to me when you do. Second, what would this substitute be exactly? And what does ‘privacy friendly’ mean? After all, if you are being tracked, you’re being tracked – period. If the trackers don’t directly know your name or address it hardly matters. They still know where to find you online, which is the main point anyway. But, let’s delve into this a bit. 

Now Google, Apple, and Mozilla all say they are phasing out tracking software. If that’s true, then it would be surprising. After all, cookies have been a vital part of the internet’s marketing ecosystem, a system collectively worth around $330 billion. I wouldn’t be expecting these companies to leave all that money on the table. If you think about it, all of these companies have tracking and invading people’s privacy as a fundamental part of their business model.

So, what is their claim? How will these companies be protecting your privacy while still raking in plenty of cash? They are calling it ‘Federated Learning of Cohorts’ (FLOC).  What is this FLOC? It’s an Application Programming Interface (API) that replaces cookies and would exist as a browser extension. It’s unclear how different in practice this will actually be from cookies. The primary difference, for now, looks to be that it will put the choice of whether or not they are used in the hands of the user. Which is actually good. At least you can more readily consent to being tracked by everyone you go. 

Naturally, not everyone is happy with this development. Facebook in particular has voiced displeasure with Apple’s transition to FLOC and other privacy changes in the App Store. Yet, do they really have much to be concerned about? Google for example has said they are taking an ‘industry first’ approach and not transitioning away from cookies in the immediate future. Note that bit about ‘industry first’. This approach allows time for Facebook, Twitter, and everyone else to find ways to adapt to the situation. Eventually, they will move away from cookies altogether but not before ways can be found to keep that $330 billion train rolling. They’ll keep the cash and claim victory for privacy rights. Or to borrow a phrase, they’ll have their cake and eat it too. 

Another clue that this is really what is going is the word ‘may’ that was used at the beginning. They aren’t definitely going with FLOC and they are trying out different approaches. Whatever they land on will likely be sold as a ‘balance between the interest of individuals and the industry as a whole’. Which is just a fancy way of saying not much is really changing.

Instead of an ‘industry first’ mentality, might we at TARTLE suggest another approach? How about trying a ‘people first’ approach. Start with the idea that these people own their own data and if you want it, they have to choose to give it to you. In fact, maybe you’ll have to pay them for it and share some of that $330 billion. That’s treating data, and the people behind it like they are worth something like they are sovereign individuals. And that is a little revolution. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Healthcare on F.H.I.R.

You may have heard of this thing called the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, if you haven’t heard this next part, you may want to sit down – it has put unusual and significant strains on healthcare systems worldwide. There are of course a lot of reasons for that. One is just the challenges of dealing with a brand new virus. Another is that some places (such as the Lombardi region of Italy) have been hit hard enough to strain available resources, while other places wound up laying off staff. Finally, due to various travel and workplace restrictions, more and more work – even in the medical field – is being done remotely, forcing people to learn new ways to work in a short amount of time. One of the results of this is that there have been increased calls for making healthcare data more universally readable and transmissible.

As it turns out, such a system already exists, F.H.I.R. or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. This system is designed to make it easier for researchers and doctors to more easily share information with each other around the world. The goal is to develop better treatments faster and get them to where they are needed in order to save lives. The problem is, until recently, hospitals, universities and governments have been slow to adopt it. Why would that be?

Adopting a new system, especially a universal one based in the cloud, means there will need to be training so staff understands the new system. Liability and security are also significant concerns since all that healthcare data would be stored on a remote server rather than onsite. That same issue also brings up concerns of privacy, of protecting the identities of patients. 

Due to COVID, there have been a number of companies that are trying to address this problem and encourage the adoption of F.H.I.R. One of them of course is Microsoft and its Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. They are trying encourage adoption of this universal system and manage all the computing aspects of healthcare, from the sharing of patient data to the “how was your visit” surveys. For the right (and as anyone with experience here knows, a very large) price Microsoft will fully integrate your data with the cloud and make it sharable worldwide. 

As good as that is, there are limitations to that approach. One is that such things are always designed with a “one size fits all” mentality. Data is presented in certain ways and the interface is whatever it is designed to be. There will be a number of features that certain users will never even be aware of. Sure, there is always some degree of customization available but all of that bogs down the system. Finally, patient engagement is severely lacking in this approach. 

Think of it this way, if someone takes a bunch of x-ray images from the Microsoft cloud and uses them to find a way to more quickly identify bone cancer, that’s great. But wouldn’t it be even better if the doctors could directly and quickly use that information to treat their patients rather than waiting months for the information to circle back in a meaningful format? 

TARTLE of course has a better way. First, when your healthcare data is uploaded into our system, it is already converted into the F.H.I.R. format. Already, it is in a format designed to be used everywhere. We also convert it into a format that easily readable by you, the patient. You don’t have to worry about sifting through a mess of code, it’ll be nice, clean and accessible. Finally, let’s look again at the bone cancer example above. If you have chosen to share your data with TARTLE you are more likely to get treatment quickly. If those researchers are using data acquired through TARTLE and they determine that you have bone cancer, then you and your doctor can be contacted directly with whatever treatment recommendations the researchers have. A process that could take months can be shortened to the length of an email. 

Better treatments delivered faster around the world, all with total transparency and security, as well as a financial incentive, for you, the individual. That’s the future TARTLE is building.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

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