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Birkbeck academics receive £353,354 research grant to address data security challenges

Professor Alex Poulovassilis and Professor George Roussos are leading the ESPRESSO project at Birkbeck, which will develop new methods for accessing decentralised personal data sets.

Researchers in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems have been awarded £353,354 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for a project exploring the challenges of personal data management.

Professor Alex Poulovassilis and Professor George Roussos are collaborating on the ESPRESSO project – Efficient Search over Personal Repositories – Secure and Sovereign – with the University of Southampton, the NExT++ centre and the SOLID and HAT project teams.

The ESPRESSO project will address the complexities that have arisen around personal online data stores (pods), which give individuals complete control over which applications can access their personal data and for what purpose.

Current best practice in data searching and database querying is not suitable for accessing and using decentralised data on such a large scale. The ESPRESSO project will research, develop and evaluate appropriate algorithms, indexes and meta-information data structures to enable large-scale data search across distributed pods.

The findings of the project will help to address the key policy challenges relating to data sovereignty and privacy and inform future research in this area.

Professors Poulovassilis and Roussos said: “We are delighted to receive support from the EPSRC for the ESPRESSO project, which is at the cutting edge of Web research. We are excited to collaborate with the University of Southampton, the NExT++ centre, and the SOLID and HAT project teams to investigate innovative techniques for accessing and combining data that is stored in personal datastores under the owners' control. A core ingredient of our new work is that service providers need to obtain user consent every time they wish to access their data, in contrast to current practice that enables providers to accumulate vast data silos of personal information.”

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