TOKYO -- Japan will encourage companies to share big data they collect, so that businesses can better cooperate on developing new products and services in the age of the "internet of things" instead of keeping all the information to themselves.
An advisory board under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will publish guidelines for big-data use in May, which will be reflected in the government's growth strategy to be drafted this summer. There is also talk of creating a new framework for resolving disputes over big data.
Currently, manufacturers tend to have sole rights to the massive amounts of data collected from cars, factories and other places. But these companies themselves have a limited ability to develop new technologies from this information. METI sees a need to create a framework that allows various companies to share the information.
Under the METI guidelines, companies will be urged to clarify who has the rights to which data when buying business equipment from or entering into partnerships with others. They will be encouraged to share all collected data other than trade secrets, so that parts makers, which have been hesitant to use big data, and other companies can use the information to develop future products. The guidelines will also recommend that companies decide beforehand how they share the proceeds from big data.
METI will provide specific examples of data-sharing agreements in the automotive, machine tool and building maintenance fields, areas where big data is quickly catching on. For example, tire makers will be able to make better products if they have information on when and where cars have slipped on the road.
The automotive industry is facing a paradigm shift from advancements in self-driving technology, ride-sharing services and other breakthroughs. The new guidelines will pave the way for automakers, makers of in-car electronics, rental car operators and other members of the industry to share information with each other.
The "internet of things" has also spread to many factories across Japan. Fanuc, together with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, U.S.-based Cisco Systems and other partners, is developing a system that connects industrial machinery and robots to boost efficiency at production plants. DMG Mori is partnering with Microsoft Japan on developing better security features for industrial equipment.
If factory machinery makers can collect big data on how their products are being used, they will be able to expand services like replacing worn parts before they break down, or providing advice for operating the machines more efficiently.
But the government will discourage companies from sharing their planned output and similar information in order to prevent collusion. It will also state that any company that uses its dominant position while negotiating contracts to gain sole rights to data may be violating antitrust rules.