Health and wellbeing are critically important to everyone on the planet. At NTT, we envision a world where health and wellbeing are human-centric and part of an expanded, shared ecosystem. To achieve this goal, it is vital that governments, institutions, businesses, and organizations, and those receiving and providing care – can trust one another.
Recently, pessimistic narratives around health and wellbeing have been on the rise. Many of these narratives are fed by misinformation, which spreads quickly online. Simultaneously, the issue of health and wellbeing has become politicized, and viewpoints have become polarized. We must collectively endeavor to challenge this situation and work together to rebuild trust.
The world as we know it operates on the transfer of data. Every day we give up our data as we interact with online services. Often our data is shared without our prior consent and our best interests in mind, leaving us open to the possibility of a data breach. When we bring genetic data into the mix, the risks increase further. Such data is particularly sensitive and needs to be carefully protected and managed.
To create a system where genetic data can be used safely and effectively, we need to move away from a data extraction model (‘data from you’) towards a model where data is controlled by the end-users (‘data for you’). The ‘trust by design’ principle needs to be built into services and applications from scratch. Ultimately, data must be owned by the individual, who should have the capacity to give and revoke rights to their data as they see fit.
As well as being trustworthy by design, systems should be friendly by design. It should be easy for users to start and stop engaging with services as they wish. When the power is put in users’ hands, companies have a greater incentive to act responsibly and ethically when it comes to personal data.
Yet, building trust goes beyond protecting data. Trust needs to be a part of our lived ecosystems and the environments we inhabit to build trust in society. In other words, we need to promote the health and wellbeing of our systems, as well as ourselves. One real-world example of creating trusting, open, and friendly environments is the Blue Zones Project. Inspired by the world’s longest-lived cultures, Blue Zones seeks to create environments where people live longer and better. Individuals are provided with tools to transform their environments and improve their physical, mental, social, and professional wellbeing. The benefits include better health, cost savings, improved productivity and more.
For projects such as this, it is essential to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Transforming our surroundings can help make this possible. If our lived environments and surrounding ecosystems are built on the foundations of openness and friendliness, it is far easier to build trust across communities.
As we rely increasingly on innovative technologies to support health and wellbeing, we need to strengthen our cybersecurity to protect digital platforms and technologies from attack. Clear security measures need to be in place to foster people’s trust in the systems that will be partly responsible for their health and wellbeing. Organizations using these systems and technologies also need to develop better resilience and create clear action plans for dealing with threats.
Building better resilience to cyberattacks across all organizations, from governments to corporations, will generate mutual trust. This resilience will make it easier to ensure the safe and secure management of data across society.
The technological innovations being developed today will enable us to transform our collective health and wellbeing in the future. NTT envisions a world in which individuals can access the right tools to promote and improve their health and wellbeing every day.
For this model to succeed, we need to build a solid foundation of trust. There must be trust between communities, organizations, governments and individuals. And there must also be trust in digital platforms and technologies. On this foundation of trust, we can build a society where we can all enjoy the benefits of better health and wellbeing.