This Year in Data – 2019

This Year in Data – 2019

This year was a massive one for data. We’ve compiled the very best articles of 2019 in one place – so you can understand the year in data at a glance.


Mastering data analytics means working with third parties

This year saw more businesses come into their own in dealing with analytics, but many haven’t mastered the art of working with third party providers. The Harvard Business Review paints it loud and clear: this is an essential part of analytics success. One of the key reasons it points out is because tapping into an ecosystem provides greater chances of success. We couldn’t agree more.


“Research suggests that most companies haven’t yet developed the capabilities necessary to use external data effectively. To close this gap, companies may find it helpful to think of themselves as participants in a data ecosystem, which some have defined as a network of actors that directly or indirectly consume, produce, or provide data and other related resources.”


The Wired guide to your personal data

There’s so much talk about how our data is collected, parcelled up and shared with various entities. But with so much going on, how can we be sure of the best practices for keeping our data safe? In this extensive piece, Wired goes into detail about just that: giving you a treasure trove of information about what constitutes “personal data”, who sells it, the history of personal data collection, and more.

Being aware of how data sharing works is more important than ever. This piece is a good place to start.


“The coming years will bring the widespread adoption of new data-guzzling devices, like smart speakers, censor-embedded clothing, and wearable health monitors. Even those who refrain from using these devices will likely have their data gathered, by things like facial recognition-enabled surveillance cameras installed on street corners.”


Why do big tech companies need scrutiny?

It seems every week we reference an article about lawmakers or other businesses attacking Google, Amazon, Facebook, or one of the other big tech companies. But why do they deserve such a hard time? As The Conversation breaks down, their use of information isn’t just ominous because of their size. It’s because these companies are able to offer products at such a low cost, yet gather information that has such high value.


“Antitrust law does have ways of dealing with natural monopolies. It would be a significant adjustment to approach social networks in this way, but these are also industries with features unlike those that regulators have dealt with previously.”


Want to live longer? Share your data

We shared this article earlier this year, and with good reason. The New York Times encapsulates a lot of the debate surrounding the collection of health data with this takeaway: you’ll actually get a big benefit if you share information. In fact, we all will. The sooner we get more info about how we live, breathe, eat, and do anything else, the sooner AI can spot patterns and possible solutions.


“Although we may not notice it, the scarcity of health care data imposes a significant cost on society. A.I. has the potential to advance medicine across a broad range of subfields.”


The future of artificial intelligence

When it comes to the future of technology, and especially artificial intelligence, we trust MIT to have an informed say on the matter. This article takes a look at one of the biggest themes of this year: governments crafting legislation to deal with this massive trend. It also offers a warning for the years ahead: be optimistic, but be smart about how AI integrates with our lives.


“While a fairly light-touch governance structure will boost innovation in AI, Martinkenaite said it is also important for legislatures to review existing laws with a risk-based and proportional approach: “You cannot apply the same rules of ethics and legal implications to all different applications of AI.””


The countries leading the data surge

Among the developments in data this year, we’ve seen so many more countries take the lead in establishing legislation, frameworks, and initiatives to help companies and individuals share data, get access to their own information, and protect privacy. The Harvard Business Review takes a deep look at which ones are leading the charge, though it comes with caveats. All countries aren’t doing well equally, and some excel in areas where others underperform.


While the U.S. scores well on all three criteria – and this might seem counterintuitive to prevailing wisdom — China operates with a handicap if global accessibility of the data is considered essential for creating successful AI applications in the future. 


How California is changing the internet

With the United States not creating an overall law to govern data privacy, California took it up as a main issue. The state’s California Consumer Privacy Act is built on the GDPR laws, but goes much further. Understanding the laws, as this article explains, is key to understanding the future of privacy not only in the United States, but around the world. 


“Among the law’s most powerful provisions is one that requires companies to stop selling people’s data upon request at any time. The mechanism for making such a request cannot be buried in a privacy policy because the law requires a “clear and conspicuous” place to click on a website specifically titled “Do Not Sell My Personal Information.”


Do we have a right to be forgotten?

Debate continued this year over this controversial idea, that we should be able to delete information about ourselves from wherever we like. This article pivots off the GDPR laws to discuss a national law in the United States, asking if the Constitution is actually strong enough to protect people’s digital privacy. We’d encourage you to read and share an opinion yourself.


“So, how do we balance the desires of corporations to make as much money from consumers as possible yet maintain consumer privacy? This is still being debated and argued in courts across the globe. Because the EU has a broad GDPR data privacy law impacting US companies, the fear is that US companies will continue to face lawsuits from states and others…”


How to design for privacy and data protection

It’s one thing to retrofit systems to incorporate new aspects of data and privacy law, but the design world has moved on. As InDesign points out, the expectation is now that privacy will be completely built-in to any software or app system. With that in mind, it describes how to actually create systems that put privacy first. This is essential reading – even if you aren’t designing product. The expectations around this area will only continue to rise in 2020. 


“When it comes to data protection, brands must pay attention to how they communicate with the user. As it currently stands, 71% of consumers find companies’ privacy rules difficult to understand—signalling a huge need for improvement.”


That’s our wrap for 2019. 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!

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Until next year,

Team Data Republic

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