This Week in Data – January 24

This week in data – January 24:

Each week, we compile the best stories in data. Get up to speed on this week in data, without having to search for it.


Facebook and Amazon execs bicker in public over data

Uh-oh. Facebook executive Nick Clegg kicked off with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, after Vogels posed a question: do Facebook customers realize they are the product? Of course, Clegg denied the charge, but it’s still a fascinating look into a rare public debate between two tech giant figureheads.


““I strongly agree with the implicit suggestion in your question that we can and must do more to make that relationship [between data sharing and targeted advertising] more explicit. I don’t agree with the characterization of the way you say it because we don’t actually sell people’s data, but that’s a separate debate,” he said.”


Can FitBits prevent the flu?

Maybe. Researchers in California say they were able to use collectivized data to predict outbreaks in real time. Clearly, this type of information could be useful for all types of organizations, including Alphabet – which is waiting on approval for its FitBit takeover. And, once again, Google has its hand in the healthcare data space. 


“While promising, the impact of the finding could be lessened due to the limited nature of the data collected — and Alphabet will need to be clear about its data-sharing policies or risk losing more consumer trust if it seeks a partner for future Fitbit endeavors.”


Air Force makes headway on data sharing

A while back, we reported on the Air Force making some in-roads with data sharing. Now, a recent demonstration between Air Force and Navy fighter jets has shown that advancement is getting better. The Air Force is developing a system to analyze data between the jets – with the idea being that in the future, members of the military won’t be necessary for transmitting data. They’ll just need to analyze it. 


““The idea with the Advanced Battle Management System is that the people are no longer the glue. The information flows everywhere all at once,” Roper said. “The people are the assessors, the analyzers, the feedback providers that help the analytics … get better and better.””


Health care providers gear up for data fight

Hospitals, insurance companies, and patient groups are preparing for a nasty battle over healthcare data laws. Politico reports that the proposed rules would allow patients to access information and sell to apps, but providers aren’t so keen. Some say the only beneficiaries are venture capital groups. Either way, the debate is heating up – a highlight of how obscure data stories might soon reach into the limelight more often.


“Epic, a privately held company little known outside health care, rolled out a publicity campaign in the past few months, putting up billboards in Washington metro stations and at Reagan National Airport. Policymakers “don’t know how our software is used, how it saves lives,” Rana said.”


Speaking of healthcare…

A bunch of hospitals have given IBM and Microsoft, among others like Amazon, access to patient information. This is a huge deal, and many of the plans for this data are groundbreaking: like teaching AI. This is all evidence of how healthcare is becoming one of the key players in the data space, but given recent breaches with Alphabet, you could see why some groups are nervous.


“The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, lets hospitals confidentially send data to business partners related to health insurance, medical devices and other services. The law requires hospitals to notify patients about health-data uses, but they don’t have to ask for permission.”


How can blockchain prevent data breaches?

Late 2019, there was a massive data breach in which roughly 4 out of 10 Canadians had some of their personal and health information leaked. In an article in The Conversation, Victoria Lemieux, the Associate Professor of Archival Science at the University of British Columbia, says the adoption of blockchain-powered “personal health wallets” could stop this kind of breach from happening in the future.

Given all the health updates we’ve already mentioned, this one might be worth looking into.


“Our research indicates that a hybrid approach that gives consumers control over their health data wallets but provides them with a service to recover their private keys in the event of loss may be the best way to ease into the use of blockchains. Ensuring that this approach does not compromise privacy and security is paramount, however.”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informative. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and anything else data related!

Email us anytime at

Until next week,

Team Data Republic

Request a demo

Fill out the form and a member of the Data Republic
team will get in touch to arrange a demo.

Get started with Data Republic

Fill out the form and a member of the Data Republic
team will get in touch to talk to you about your data project