Streamr, Fysical to reshape human location data market

One of the world’s largest providers of human location data to the advertising industry is changing its business model in the wake of the Facebook scandal and is aiming to put consumers back in control by partnering with blockchain-backed data platform Streamr.

Founded 3.5 years ago, Singapore-based Fysical now sells some 15 billion location data points from mobile and IoT devices to chart how people move through cityscapes and commercial spaces.

This data is currently being bought by more than a thousand organizations from industries such as advertising,  real estate, financial services businesses, academia, and organizations with interests in machine learning. Fysical co-founder Ben Smith, however, has now stated it is time to change direction and allow consumers to reclaim and monetize the real-time data that is being generated about them from hundreds of mobile apps and other devices.

Henri Pihkala

Mr. Smith will work with Swiss-based data monetization platform Streamr to vend the data on its real-time data marketplace, which will be launched at Consensus 2018 on May 16. The two companies will also work together to create an easy-to-use permission mechanism that will give people the ability to deny the use of their data altogether, or if they choose, to ‘double verify’ data being produced about them. By double verifying their locations, people will increase the data’s reliability, creating a new standard in digital advertising and the location monitoring industry. They will also be able to share in the proceeds of monetisation.

Streamr CEO Henri Pihkala welcomed the partnership.

“Streamr’s aim is to do data differently,  and this partnership shows just that. We know that the IoT economy is already generating vast amounts of information about human behavior. We have to make sure that this wealth of data isn’t captured by a select few data giants of the future because we don’t want to make the mistakes of the past. That’s why we’re putting Streamr Labs to work on ensuring we build something new from the ground up, that has the right values baked in from the start.”

“Facebook, Google and Amazon currently own the ‘online’ data world,” Mr. Smith added. “The next frontier is ‘offline’ or physical world data. We think that decentralization can allow us to tackle this next frontier the right way, rather than building giant monopolies with high privacy costs for consumers.

“In the decentralized space, there has only been one model to allow consumers to own their data and that’s a consumer-first model, where companies provide a mobile app to consumers which allows consumers to make money from their data.

“Most companies that offer such an app tout that they’re allowing consumers to finally claim their data and take it back from the data giants, but that’s not actually happening. Rather, these apps just create more data to sell with a consumer monetary kick-back and they do nothing to allow consumers to claim or own the data generated from the thousands of other apps and websites that still collect and sell their data. Fysical allows users to efficiently claim all of this data downstream at the aggregate marketplace level where it’s pooled, instead of just from one of the many sources creating it upstream.”

Mr. Smith added that Fysical’s mission was to become the industry standard for businesses to buy and sell location data, “while allowing consumers to claim their data from this B2B market”.