Travellers could be ranked based on their reputation when they go on holiday in the future, according to the Open Data Institute (ODI).

Reminiscent of a Black Mirror episode, the ODI has predicted that individuals could be given a ‘Reputation Barometer’ score, which will affect the services and benefits they can receive.

This is one of four scenarios, developed by the institute after extensive research, setting out what travel could look like in the near future thanks to data portability.

What is data portability?

Data portability is the transfer of personal data from one organisation to another. It allows individuals to access their own data and decide which outside organisations they share it with.

The right to data portability is an aspect of newly introduced EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and could enable individuals to take advantage of applications and services that can use this information to make experiences more personalised.

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In the ODI’s fictional scenario, the Reputation Barometer would measure an individual’s standing by monitoring information about them, including the reviews they receive when renting or letting properties and their behaviour or reputation in other contexts. For example, criminal records, tax records, employment history, financial history and current bank balance.

This information would then be used to calculate an individual’s reputation score, which could then be accessed by other users via a peer-to-peer platform. High-scoring individuals would be able to unlock a range of benefits and discounts when renting accommodation.

The score would be accompanied by an ‘insights dashboard’, informing you of how your score could be improved, how improvements would benefit you and your standing in relation to the rest of society and your peers.

This scenario relies on data portability, as reputation scores would need to be transferred to different peer-to-peer accommodation platforms.

This somewhat dystopian system is similar to the social credit system that already exists in China, where individuals are given a score based on government data regarding their economic and social status such as credit score, qualifications, personal characteristics and personal relationships.

The ODI has made other travel tech predictions

Other, less controversial, scenarios that focus on enhancing travel experiences for consumers have also been set out by the ODI.

One piece of technology that travellers could soon make use of is the ‘Holo-day’ – a virtual reality environment that could allow people to ‘visit’ a potential holiday destination before booking by taking a virtual tour powered by photographs, layouts or 360˚ recordings. With VR becoming increasingly commonplace, such technology may not be far off. The ODI predicts that some peer-to-peer accommodation platforms and technology companies may already be prototyping such ideas using the data they already hold.

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Guided tours could also become more personalised thanks to data portability.“Hypr-local” bike tours will allow users will be able to import their data to a local platform to access personalised tours based on their interests.

More practically, the ODI predicts that baggage tags will also carry more personal data than they do currently, with data baggage tags able to record, store and share data about travellers.

Although these are hypothetical scenarios, in most cases the technology needed to make them happen already exists, although they may require new data standards, support and funding for the ideas to become a reality.

Head of policy at the Open Data Institute Peter Wells believes that, when handled correctly, personal data opens up a number of possibilities in the travel sector:

“Recent revelations about how personal data has been shared by companies like Facebook have caused alarm and raised important questions about its use and misuse. However, sharing data can also lead to greater innovation, better products and services, and a fairer and more competitive data ecosystem, all of which benefits individuals and communities.

“If good open standards are developed, it should enable better services, healthy competition and mutual cooperation between organisations… but whereas there are many benefits to the scenarios there is also a risk of harmful impacts if data is not carefully managed. We believe there needs to be a clear rights framework which takes into account ethical considerations and includes strong regulation and protections in favour of privacy, against discrimination and in support of innovation.”