18 January 2019 – The NUS Centre for Research in Privacy Technologies (N-CRiPT) was launched on 15 January 2019 at the centre’s Inaugural Workshop. The new S$12 million research centre, funded by the National Research Foundation, will carry out leading research to design and develop privacy-preserving technologies to build a privacy aware Smart Nation for Singapore.
The centre, based in NUS Computing, is led by Professor Mohan Kankanhalli, Dean of NUS Computing. N-CRiPT will carry out research on the privacy preservation of structured data – well-defined information such as age, gender, and date of birth – as well as unstructured and multimodal data which may contain sensitive information on an individual. This includes data such as images of an individual’s face and the individual’s location information.
In the event of a flu or dengue epidemic, analysing unstructured data such as medical records from clinics and travel patterns from transport and telecommunications companies, could help identify high-risk areas and allow health agencies to take pre-emptive measures. However, the collection and analysis of data from multiple parties could potentially compromise individuals’ privacy.
“With the advent of the Smart Nation, large volumes of data, including personal data, will be used and people are rightfully concerned about the privacy of these information,” said Professor Kankanhalli. “The goal of N-CRiPT is to develop research-based solutions that will instill trust in individuals and organisations when it comes to collecting and processing sensitive data.”
The centre will develop new privacy-preserving solutions for structured and unstructured data. One technique that N-CRiPT will look into is the generation of synthetic data that mirrors the proportion of the original data sets. The synthetic data would not be linked to any individual, which reduces the risk of privacy breaches. In addition, the centre will also look into privacy risk management which includes quantifying the practical risk and potential costs involved in the case of a data leakage.
N-CRiPT commenced operations on 1 October 2019 and has currently 12 Principal Investigators from NUS Computing, NUS Engineering, NUS Business School, and Yale-NUS College working on various projects. The centre will be collaborating with external research centres, companies, and government agencies, to strengthen its research capabilities and maximise the potential impact of the technologies it develops.