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Recently I attended a conference in Austin, Texas and was reminded of how much Austin has going for it, from the endearing commitment to #keepaustinweird to an exploding tech sector fed in part by highly educated grads from the University of Texas. What a great place to live and study—and you don’t even have to lug around a backpack full of textbooks anymore! I thought back to my own university experience dragging 20 lbs of what felt like phone books across campus to the library to acquire even more books. How fortunate they are to be free from that burden thanks to possessing an entire world of knowledge in their pocket mobile device. Centralizing data and democratizing access while removing physical and geographic barriers has transformed education—just as it has for commercial data science and social impact research. Much like the cavernous libraries warehousing millions of books yielding to efficient and limitless digital storage, Spectus data clean room is transforming the way companies and researchers think about data collection, protection, and access.

Stop Chasing Paper

Nearly fifteen years have passed since Amazon brought the Kindle to market and made storing and shipping physical volumes of text optional. Kindle all but eliminated the epic hunt for that one book you needed to read before finals but was always checked out (and sometimes returned late or not at all). But the inefficiencies created by limiting information access to a single person or team at a time have been slower to fade in the commercial and research sectors, especially when it comes to location intelligence. Many companies continue to hoard “their” data behind disconnected fortress walls and limit access to others out of fear that it may fall into the wrong hands or disappear much like the textbook. While strong security and access-limiting controls are a noble and necessary quest, it is inefficient at best and stifling at worst to hire thousands of security guards to act as doormen at every small data library dotting the landscape. A better model is to pool resources for security and gatekeeping. This frees up the individual universities or municipalities to redirect their precious resources to higher uses such as expanding their addressable market and streamlining the use of the data instead of focusing on being the proverbial data bouncer at the door. None other than our own Library of Congress has adopted this approach and the goals are ambitious and transformative. If you find your business trailing the Federal government on data innovation just how forward thinking are you, really?

Sweat the Big Stuff

One of the stated goals of the Library of Congress’ digital strategy is to “maximize the use of content”. This may seem at first blush to be inconsistent with location data and other information that is commonly accompanied by words like “sensitive” or “secret”. We know this data needs to be protected but less often know how to achieve that. Unless your company’s sole focus is on cybersecurity and data privacy, you probably would rather be working on solving other problems. Losing focus on the open and productive use of your data can render it impenetrable, remote, and extremely limited in its value to commerce and society. Partnering with Spectus data clean room offloads the basic responsibilities of data privacy and security so your most valuable resources—your people and your data—are free to expend their efforts elsewhere. Would you rather have your teams trying to understand arcane privacy legislation, or instead shift their attention to leveraging privacy-safe data in a controlled environment to solve traffic patterns for smart cities, or determine where to put your first retail store in the metaverse? After all, isn’t that the type of innovation and value that pays for all of the privacy and security you covet in the first place?

Drive the Future Together

At Spectus, we’re building a better library. One where the books are always checked-in, the staff is focused on helping you with tools and resources, and you can free your team from tangential and taxing work on privacy to focus on the Next Big Thing. Above all, you don’t need to whisper here. In fact we encourage ruckus. Collaboration with other data owners and users both similar to and far afield from your organization will truly unlock the potential of your data and expose you to insights you didn’t know were available. Learn more about how a data clean room can work for you.