At SICCAR, we regularly mention how our platform enables a canonical truth, or a “Single Source of Truth”. But what is this truth, and why does it matter?
The concept of a Single Source of Truth—or SSoT—is an established one in the field of information systems, and a feature highly recommended by experts in information and data security. However, not every information system uses an SSoT.
In this guide, we will explore what exactly an SSoT is, and how the SICCAR platform utilises an SSoT to enable secure and reliable data sharing between organisations.
What is a Single Source of Truth?
A Single Source of Truth is a concept where all members of an organisation—or all organisations in a federation or supply chain—can base decisions on the same data. In IT, an SSoT usually comes in the form of a decentralised digital ledger or database. With a decentralised approach, data can be shared and governed collectively.
What advantages does a Single Source of Truth offer?
There are many benefits of Single Source of Truth systems. With a decentralised data register, everyone involved can contribute to the chain of custody of information with shared governance and shared protection of the data.
Although decentralised data is more open to access, it is typically more secure and tamper-proof than centrally governed data. This is because access rules can be defined and enforced automatically, and because any alterations to data must be approved by every member and organisation in the chain.
The automatic and decentralised governance rules of SSoT-based systems can also reduce time and administration associated with access management. This typically results in smoother workflows within organisations and across different organisations.
Perhaps the greatest advantages of an SSoT are around decision-making and compliance. Shared truths can be used to make informed and empowered decisions about partnerships between organisations. For example, the SICCAR platform was used by Scotland’s Rural College to reliably track and trace the provenance of oats and their gluten content across an extensive and multifaceted supply chain.
What alternatives are there to a Single Source of Truth?
Not all shared data services are based on an SSoT. In fact, most databases and registers are based on a traditional System of Record, or SOR. An SOR is a centralised data repository which is maintained solely by one or more administrators.
SORs are not only valuable targets for hackers (as once they are breached, information can be used in any way the hacker chooses), but they also typically require more management, and lack the security and ease of intra-organisational data sharing and access management of SSoT-based systems.
Some data registers have started to use a concept called Multiple Versions of the Truth, or MVoT. MVoT has applications when different departments of an organisation need to use data for different purposes, and potentially filter or transform that data. However, a solid SSoT foundation is still the necessary foundation for these systems—data must be reliably recorded before it can be repurposed.
What technology is SICCAR’s Single Source of Truth based on?
SICCAR’s data sharing platform is based on DLT—or Distributed Ledger Technology. Although the most well-known form of DLT is blockchain, blockchain is only one type of DLT. DLT is an umbrella term that refers to systems including shared data registers such as SICCAR.
SICCAR’s platform is based on Directed Acrylic Graphs—or DAG—rather than blockchain. Although similar to blockchain in its decentralised nature and consensus-based algorithms, DAG is faster, more economic, and more scalable than blockchain technology.
How does SICCAR’s Single Source of Truth enable the platform’s other components and processes?
The Single Source of Truth is the founding principle of the SICCAR platform and the foundation upon which it is built. SICCAR’s SSOT enables all of its components and processes, such as the three layers—the Shared Data Register that provides mutual ownership of data, the Governance Layer that enables customised and enforced processes, and the Integration Layer that allows the platform to interface with other apps and services.
Without the basis of a Single Source of Truth, these processes would not be possible.
Why is a Single Source of Truth so important in 2021?
In an online, post-pandemic, interconnected world we need to base decisions on truth—as agreed by everybody involved in a process. Without a shared agreement on the truth we can’t make the right decisions about COVID at borders, agree on quality and safety of produce in our complex agricultural supply chains, or trust disclosures about environmental impact of corporations’ activities as we all try to get to Net Zero. These fundamental problems require many stakeholders in business and government ecosystems to agree on what constitutes “the truth”.
SICCAR enables organisations to share data reliably and securely without losing control of that data, and the Single Source of Truth is the bedrock of this. Our platform has helped public and private organisations in many different sectors and of many different scales. To find out more about how SICCAR can help your organisation overcome logistical, operational, and security issues now and in the future, why not sign up for our demo?
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