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Opinion piece by Joanne Cooper, CEO of World Data Exchange

Data is the new oil, and the UAE is primed to unlock long-held data silos for trillion-dollar rewards.

Data is the new oil, and the UAE is primed to unlock long-held data silos for trillion-dollar rewards.
Opinion piece by Joanne Cooper, CEO of World Data Exchange 
The UAE is poised to crack the trillion-dollar global personal data economy by unlocking the silos of consumer data, long-held and fiercely protected by healthcare, banks, Insurers, and social and consumer-facing enterprises. 
It’s ironic that by simply returning a synced copy of personal data to its rightful owner – be it as a consumer, banking customer or patient - the UAE stages can stage its entry into an emerging international data economy.
Releasing data, previously locked in silos, presents a multitude of opportunities for every sector, but it's already providing new opportunities for consumers by bridging the private and public sector data sources to a single access point and harnessing decentralised models.
That’s the place where World Data Exchange operates. We have solved the way to bridge and normalisation data during transit through synced information whilst ensuring it remains strictly protected in the rightful hand of the individual to ensure trust and their ability to enact private on-sharing.
For example, an access point may be an app on a phone or a PC via a secure API, and with simple instructions an individual can connect and receive a synced/linked copy of their data from a trusted source, such as a Doctor, Bank, or a government social service. 
For a consumer’s perspective, consider the ability for an outpatient wearing a smartwatch or health monitoring device who can now push the data results into their health vault, containing their synced GP and Hospital health history, then consent to share their own relevant information to a health practitioner of their choosing when valued services are offered. 
A mental health app might even recommend music that not only suits your taste but forms part of a tailored wellness program. With your GP and Hospital data self-held, preventative health alerts could be lifesaving and in-home treatments can be provided.   These data-sharing opportunities, with permissions, can see apps analyse a Spotify playlist and alert you when your favourite performer’s tickets go on sale.  After all, it may be just what the doctor ordered.   Or if you travel for healthcare, the ability to retain a copy of your health records within an International Patient Summary that is compatible with other country health systems is very important for ongoing care.
There are markets in value-based healthcare, predictive healthcare, personalised medicine, and even medical tourism, and they are set to soar. Data access used as a growth agent will provide fresh, new money-making opportunities. 
The technology exists, and the opportunities are ripe for the taking by simply enabling the free flow of personal data and leveraging new advancements where technology and medicine combine.  
A myriad of opportunities will advance with Patient Centric eHealth Data advancements.
We are already seeing new digital insights from once unattainable data that are now empowering consumers. Consumers are benefiting from accessing information on a wealth of topics, and, as a consequence, they are able to better manage their health and well-being, improve their financial fitness, and enjoy new tailored shopping experiences and loyalty programs designed to meet their unique interests. 
The UAE already has a clear vision and appetite to prime digital growth markets, and the importance of addressing the well-being of its citizens has not been overlooked. 
Combined with the vision to lead the world to advance megatrends in patient-centric healthcare, the UAE’s geopolitical reach offers significant digital trade opportunities. Those opportunities can only be further enhanced by the blurred borders we are experiencing due to our increasingly mobile society.
By enabling the free flow of personal data, the UAE can leverage new advancements where technology and medicine combine. 
Data, or information, is as now valuable as a commodity, but just like oil, it can’t be best utilised until it is removed from a silo and put to wider use.   
The challenge has been industry has contained the individual’s personal data in silos, using it as their own asset for any number of reasons. However, changes to regulations in more and more countries provide the consumer with the electronic right to hold their own information.  Restoring the power to the consumer via a secure app is the way to unlocking innovation. 
However, the data intermediary sector has significant challenges, and the gold information-sharing standard has placed privacy at its core. That’s where our role is vital. Data Intermediary companies like World Data Exchange provide software platform services that translate the data for the specific use between the holder and data users.    We are like a translator between the app and the silo, and we must provide impenetrable security. 
Simply put, we ensure safe porting while de-risking compliance and the impact of cyber threats, privacy breaches or data trafficking during the use and exchange process.
All this against a backdrop of emerging technologies like IoT and AI that have a new thirst for greater access to quality personal data but constantly get blocked by the challenges around the permission of its use from the data owner. That’s just another of the many issues that we solve. 
Nations that embrace Privacy and Data Protection regulatory reforms, which permit individuals the right to gain access to personal data in a machine-readable format, will profit on many fronts. 
However, countries that are slow to unlock information and return it to the consumer will ultimately pay the price. 
World Data Exchange recently developed a ground-breaking eHealth Data approach for the Dutch Government with a secure app that returns health information to patients - via a secure app and a citizen-controlled and encrypted data vault. In a first for the Netherlands, we’ve addressed the security and privacy mandated by EU data protection standards such as the GDPR and Health Data Policy. And all in consumer facing software built on our world leading platform.
The patient can now own and control their sensitive medical data, which reinforces trust and privacy.  The patient, in charge of their own comprehensive health data, can also decide when to on-share their connected and synced health records with their chosen doctor or hospital in the Netherlands. 
This is groundbreaking, it’s even built to FHIR HL7, which is rapidly becoming the new standard for an International Patient Summary (IPS), and that means that over time, your health data will be compatible with Health Systems across the globe. 
We were able to quickly create a new world-leading eHealth solution by leveraging previous work in the UK, where citizens can access portable health records via their doctor and the NHS.
We are now looking to assist the Australian Government to modernise its My Health record system while leveraging a decade of efforts around privacy and data interoperability, as well as our ongoing achievements in the Netherlands.
World Data Exchange is also collaborating on international research projects addressing cancer, diabetes and mental health and fielding strong interest from other nations around genomic applications. 
The advances in digital health mean that digital exchanges, like the one we built in the Netherlands, will eventually lead to a world transformation in how patients interact with our practitioners, experience personalised medicine, and receive biomedical services.  It will completely change how as individuals we can take greater care of our health and wellbeing. 
As a Data Intermediary company operating in the data exchange sector, it’s the health sector challenges that have been the toughest and most difficult to crack. 
But by creating platforms to manage the toughest of privacy challenges, we are now able to accelerate the onboarding of the multi-trillion-dollar personal data economy across any sector in any country. 
That’s because human-centric approaches for data handling will form the new baseline for Digital Democracy. It’s exciting for everyone at the World Data Exchange to be at the centre of efforts that will transform society. 
In the UAE, their understanding of new decentralised models gives them a leading stake in the data commodity race.  And their eagerness to embrace this sector early will see them well-positioned to dominate and profit from this new trillion-dollar world market.
We are focused on forward-thinking countries, so we are currently exploring investment and business opportunities in the UAE. 
Joanne Cooper founded the World Data Exchange in 2022, who acquired the UK Data Sharing platform leader, previously acquirer of Personal Inc., one of the first US market makers in personal data exchange technologies. As CEO, industry steward and a leader in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, she has sought to empower citizens through the modernisation of Legislation, Government Policy and emerging technologies, providing services and counsel to governments in the UK, US, Bosnia the Netherlands, and Australia with sights of the UAE.


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