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Digital Sustainability: call to action against global data pollution

I'm convinced this year will be a decisive turning point in the war against a creeping yet potentially devastating type of pollution. This is the 'data pollution' which threatens to overwhelm our digital world.

Just as nations are now committing to more challenging environmental targets in the physical world, we must also recognise the threat of data pollution in the virtual realm. Data is leaking, fragmented, sometimes inaccurate and, most importantly, outside the control of the people and organisations which create it and who are the subjects.

Central to our vision of 'Everything Transaction' is the idea of Digital Sustainability: the acknowledgement that organisations need to focus more attention on combating these negative effects of the explosion of data transactions.

Data pollution inevitably creates a lack of trust, particularly where a handful of companies dominate the data market and use your data solely for their financial benefit. This imbalance means less data will be shared; and less data leads to less relevance, fewer customers and diminished business success.

One of the cornerstones of Digital Sustainability is the concept of 'Data Sovereignty', which means creating simple, uniform and secure ways for consumers and businesses to re-use their decentralised data whenever and wherever they wish. Not only will this lead to a fairer realignment of the 'data benefits balance', it will also stimulate commercial growth, healthy competition and vibrant innovation in the digital economy.

Our surveys amongst senior executives, experts and regulators confirm a growing understanding of the threat of data pollution. Two-thirds of European organisations now feel the need to "make it possible for data owners (people, partners, suppliers etc.) to have control over their personal and business data", and nearly 60% are worried about "the societal consequences of an internet monopolised by a handful of firms".

That's why in 2021, together with INNOAY I will be putting a lot of effort in building awareness of the critical importance of implementing Digital Sustainability. And we're calling for a group of visionary decision-makers to step forward and assume the leadership role.

By working together to build consensus, and then develop and rollout Digital Sustainability strategies, I'm convinced we still have time to reverse the trend of data pollution. If we wait any longer – just like we did with the pollution in the real world – we can't guarantee to leave behind a digital world which will be fit for our children to inherit.



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Shikko Nijland
Blog group founder

Shikko Nijland



Member since

03 Sep 2020



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Data sharing

Trust is the essential oil needed to make data flow in today’s transactional era. However, privacy and security concerns mean that many people and organisations are increasingly unwilling to share their data. We believe that data sovereignty forms the cornerstone of digital trust. Making data sovereignty a key design principle will stimulate data sharing as the basis for enabling everyone – not just the big tech giants, but also all other businesses, organisations and especially citizens.

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