“Everything can be measured. Now let’s make data make sense.”

Sander Veenhof 200x200Sander Veenhof will be contributing to the Beyond open Data conference in March. He will chair a round table on experience how gamification turns unexpected data into a source of inspiration. “The most important thing is that we need a fresh way to look at data, and to find out how they can be useful.”
For his Internet of Anonymous Things project, Sander collected data, put them in a graph, and did not tell his website visitors what they meant.

What happened, next?

“It was a guessing game. You see a graph and start thinking: what has been counted here? The number of pigeons on a lamp post? Or the times a door was opened? The effect of this is that one starts looking in a fresh way at where data can be collected. One starts thinking about new possibilities, instead of sticking with what we know already. The graphs show funny patterns that may bring on new ideas. We are living in a time where the internet of things can become something massive. There’ll be sensors everywhere. And they will all collect all kind of data.”

Will machines do the new discoveries, then?

“Or do machines need humans to tell them where to look – that is the question. However, the internet of things is going to have a huge impact, and the magnitude of that will only be visible when it exceeds the small experiments, the hackathons et cetera. Big changes will come from the parties in the market that collect enough interesting data to make really big steps. Governments, for example. Or the big companies in telecommunication or services.”

Can smaller companies play  a role in this development, as well?

“They can. Think about this. A sensor in your boat detects rain. Wouldn’t it be nice if the sensor could detect that there is a lot of rain, and that a computer adds that it will continue raining. And that then a signal is sent to “Hoos-je-Bootje” (“Get the water out of your boat before it sinks”) directly. Those kind of services could be a great added value. But somehow this doesn’t start off yet. Now, we stick too often in the nerds’ fascination for a fridge telling you it is getting empty. But we need more than just a proof of concept. Because we’re not all going to be programmers, there will be a marketplace for smart rules and logic, provided by independent small companies offering services to configure and apply personalised rules to our IoT devices.”

What will be your take home message for your table guests on this conference?

“I want people to be surprised about what data can tell, and how it can be used. I would like them to remember that for all big things to happen, many small steps are required. We already are close to the moment that a firm asks in a job procedure if the candidate will wear a bracelet collecting body fitness data. Before this happens, we must have a public opinion on it.”

Do you want to warn the world?

“In a way perhaps. It is always a good idea to be aware of the trends that are happening. There are lots of possibilities arising, and business chances as well. Especially for those who will be able to contribute to the logic world between a sensor and a user. It all comes down to translating data into something useful.”
Sander Veenhof studied Information and Commmunication Technology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and studied at the Rietveld Academie as well. He always brings in an artistic point of view in his IT-related projectes.

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