Inrupt's booth at the Digital Flanders Day conference, with tagline that reads "Don't leave your data behind."

Reflections on Digital Flanders Meeting Day

Mobilizing the international Solid movement — the perspective from Belgium
Roel Naessens, Business Development Director, Europe
November 22, 2023

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Digital Flanders Meeting Day (or Trefdag Vlaanderen Digitaal) with a number of my Inrupt colleagues, and was impressed with the progress Solid has made over the past year in Flanders. 

Of course, the most notable event of the past year was the launch of athumi, a public utility company that uses Inrupt’s Solid technology as the foundation for their data collaboration platform. Athumi’s offering gives consumers control over their data and can give companies access to previously inaccessible data. 

At TVD, I was particularly impressed by discussions around taking a human-centric approach to the European digital renaissance, and how well Solid fits in with the themes the speakers described. Europe has the opportunity to emerge as a leader in innovation in a number of key areas, such as AI and data sharing, while still maintaining strong commitments to social responsibility. 

Athumi organized a fascinating day of discussions around new practices in data sharing and how Solid can provide unique capabilities to emerging data sharing ecosystems. It was energizing to be surrounded by like-minded organizations, all pulling together for a bright future for Solid. 

I was invited to speak on athumi’s stage about the international Solid movement and some of the latest Solid innovations from around the world. Below are some of the thoughts I shared with them. 

Data you can trust 

As the web evolved from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, organizations were able to start forming digital relationships with their users based on data they were able to collect about them. However, these relationships were limited and one-sided, as organizations stored data in silos, far away from the customers they were meant to describe. This system resulted in fragmented, duplicate, and stale data, as well as a growing distrust among consumers about how their data is gathered and used. 

So how can Solid help restore trust in the data? By harnessing the web as a data platform, the Solid protocol is able to decouple data from applications, resulting in a user-centric data architecture. Solid Pods have fine-grained access control and consent capabilities for using and sharing data. Pod data is stored in an open standard format, which creates a shared view that can be reused across multiple applications and business units, as well as with external partners. And by storing data in one Pod instead of across multiple data silos, enterprises can keep data accurate and up to date. 

At Inrupt, we develop enterprise-grade implementations of Solid standards. We also work with governments and organizations in Europe and North America to deploy and manage Solid solutions. 

Solid innovations from around the world 

Let’s take a look at some of the exciting use cases we’re seeing with Solid already. Right here in Flanders, athumi is working to give citizens access to a Solid Pod and developing new applications that use data sharing to provide new value to users, such as innovative new measures in the HR and personal health spaces. 

We have had a number of exciting projects come out of the United Kingdom, including work with the BBC that paired a social TV-watching experience with unprecedented access to users’ own BBC viewing data. We also worked with a British bank to use Solid Pods to give customers more transparency and control over their personal data, including how and when it is used. And in the United States, we worked with the Bezos Earth Fund and BlocPower, a climate technology company, to create a platform to collect hyperlocal environmental data with built-in transparency and access controls. 

In addition to the implementations of Solid we’re helping to develop, the team here at Inrupt has been working to share the excitement and momentum around Solid we feel in Flanders with the rest of the world. Our VP of Product recently appeared on a panel on new advancements in digital identity solutions, and our Chief of Security Architecture penned an authoritative piece on how decoupled data storage protocols protect data storage and make computation more secure. 

At the Big Data Expo earlier this fall, I was able to experience firsthand how both enterprises and end users are excited by new data solutions that respond to individuals’ interests and privacy concerns. 

As for the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to seeing our Chief of Security Architecture speak at the AI Summit in New York on security within AI, and our CEO John Bruce and CTO Sir Tim Berners-Lee speak at LiveWIRED in San Francisco on the data revolution. 

The past year has been monumental in seeing new implementations of Solid, both in the United States and in Europe, and I look forward to seeing how Solid can further unlock the full potential of data and play a role in Europe’s human-centric digital renaissance. 

Want to learn more about how Inrupt can help your organization deploy Solid solutions? Contact our team today.

View All Posts

Stay connected

Stay up-to-date with Inrupt and Solid. Receive notifications on the latest features, releases, and new products.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
You have successfully signed up for the Inrupt Newsletter!