The Internet is an ever-growing home to over 4.5 billion web pages – where 6000 tweets and 4000 Google searches happen every second. Fast-forward to 2020, when the Internet of Things (IoT) will potentially have connected 31 billion devices worldwide. It’s easy to imagine that big data associated with smart devices will grow exponentially.
How do we optimize this mind-boggling magnitude to share verified information across industries and society while maintaining our human connection? The NGI, or Next Generation Internet, is tackling this issue in Europe and startups will play a vital role through data attestation.
The NGI Initiative: Enhancing Data Privacy and Trust
Forming a human-centric online future in the midst of technological advancement and large-scale interconnectedness is at the core of an initiative from the NGI. The NGI itself aims to be an interoperable platform ecosystem that supports: openness, transparency, inclusivity, privacy, and data protection.
As part of the European Commision, the NGI orchestrators recognize the depth with which the internet is integrated into our lives. Their initiative seeks to create an Internet which respects human and societal values, participation, and diversity – addressing real needs and global sustainability challenges.
The NGI is dedicated to fostering a vibrant Open Internet movement linking research, policy, and society in Europe through grant funding opportunities. The NGI proposes an approach to Internet research which can be applied to:
Privacy and trust-enhancing technologies
Decentralized data governance
Discovery and identification of technologies.
To support this approach, the NGI addresses diverse topics including AI, future media, interactive technologies, language technologies, inclusion – and the Internet of Things. In covering such a wide range of concepts, the NGI is strengthened by input from multiple stakeholders: Fraunhofer FOKUS, the BMBF, EU DG Connect, the eco Association, Berlin Partner, and the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC).
These key players gathered for a 1-day workshop held in Berlin on January 25th, 2018 to drive the program's direction, discuss funding, and focus on creating a collaborative ecosystem. NBT's CTO, Jasmin Skenderi, was invited to speak at this workshop about the role of startups in the NGI.
Startups Poised to Uphold NGI Values
Along with the workshop host Fraunhofer FOKUS, NBT AG represents Germany’s de Hub initiative, a home for IoT in Berlin. Through reliance on blockchain, much of IoT focuses on exactly the 3 key issues identified above: privacy, decentralization, and technology.
Jasmin, a passionate technologist at the intersection of IoT and blockchain, addressed how NBT aligns with the NGI initiative by focusing on security, price, zero configuration (ease of use), and emotion. As he explains it, the way to instill trust and embody the NGI values is through data attestation in development:
“Being a young and dynamic startup never justifies being unprofessional. Precisely the opposite. We have to be even more professional than a corporate because of limited resources and limited chance of success. So it’s crucial to incorporate the values of NGI –transparency, privacy, and data protection– into our strategy and our development guidelines. We go a step further and secure ‘data attestation’ by creating the hardware and software solutions that validate the source and the quality of digital data.”
Jasmin explained how as the IoT company builder of Europe, NBT accelerates innovation by building companies which leverage corporate reach and nurture entrepreneurial vision. NBT focuses on the Internet of Services and blockchain technology, disrupting industries and outcompeting traditional business models. Business models of the future are hardware-enabled and create new value chains. But they have to go even further, by providing data attestation.
Data Attestation: Building Trust with Decentralization and Technology
Much of human-interaction centers on trust. One example where this trust gets broken is ‘fake news’. Both humans and computers (like sensors and bots) are capable of generating falsehood, so Jasmin explored the question: what is IoT’s role in attesting to verified data? This brings us back to the blockchain: a decentralized ledger of value, authenticated by a community. He says that developing technological solutions which can provide data attestation, or confirm the truthfulness of data, is key to earning trust and creating value.
NBT's venture, weeve, is a prime example of putting into practice the ideals of the NGI initiative (security, data privacy, interoperability). Using blockchain technology, weeve provides a platform which enables the harvesting, processing, and value creation of verifiable IoT data, moving towards an Economy of Things.
We focus on building platforms or services which decentralize decisions, rely on the principles of IoT, and uphold the community values we believe in. As GDPR approaches in May 2018, it is a smart time to take the NGI initiative to heart: building trust, reducing costs, and accelerating transactions.
All photos courtesy of Michael Strahl.
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