The Energy Data Hackdays 2020 hackathon in Switzerland this past weekend marked a major milestone for VIA. This was the first time our Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™) software platform was used by multiple independent third-party analysts in a highly competitive and time-compressed environment.
A team from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) in Switzerland used TAC™ to analyze data in the US and Asia. No data was transferred to the analysts.
Why was this significant?
Swiss law prohibits many different types of data from leaving the country. This means:
- In many cases, cloud services cannot be used to store data (e.g., AWS does not have servers in Switzerland)
- Use of foreign analysts, or international benchmarking and other kinds of analyses are impossible
This kind of “locally trapped data” is common across the globe. We have heard many companies who have subsidiaries in the EU, US, and China lament that they cannot analyze or compare data even internally.
VIA’s TAC™ platform was designed specifically to solve this problem (see Let’s TAC™ About It blog series for more details on how this works). For demo purposes, VIA also placed a smart meter dataset on an Azure server in Switzerland connected to TAC™. Analysts used Amazon AWS workstations hosted in the UK to analyze the data remotely.
Why use TAC™ during a hackathon?
The promise of privacy-preserving analysis is compelling but it also has to be fast and easy. Can you really analyze data without seeing it? A hackathon is the perfect environment to validate this. That is, can analysts who are unfamiliar with this approach and the TAC™ platform learn it quickly enough to generate analytical results in a time restricted environment?
The answer at the Swiss hackathon was: yes.
Ben Bowler, Senior Research Associate – Intelligent Energy Systems, of HSLU said:
“For data analysts used to being the owner and master of their datasets, TAC™ represented a complete paradigm shift. It created the opportunity to access private, hidden datasets, allowing analysts to create insights from a global pool of data that would have been impossible without TAC™, even in a limited space of time.
In a world where data privacy is becoming increasingly important, the ability to access data in this way will become essential. There were challenges and lessons to be learned in preserving data privacy using TAC™, but the support provided by the VIA team was excellent and allowed the analysts to equip themselves with the skills necessary to analyze sensitive data without transferring it from its owner. We are looking forward to taking the challenge forward, and are also investigating smart meter applications, where we see huge potential for this technology.”
The HSLU team was able to demonstrate that significant insights can be gained through TAC™ even while data remains remote. More details of the specific analysis will be featured in upcoming blogs.
Are you interested in a hackathon for your data while keeping it private and secure? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.