Data Exchanges: A Vital Pillar of Digital Public Infrastructure

Dr Inder S Gopal  
Research Professor, IISc

Dr. Inder S Gopal is a distinguished tech leader, innovator, and research professor having founded two network software startups. He's recognised for pioneering the first gigabit router and excels in software development with a robust grasp of operational and scaling challenges.

A data exchange is a platform where information is shared, traded, and utilised for various purposes. A set of well-defined standards and governance mechanisms determine how the exchange operates and allow a wide variety of stakeholders to benefit. Individuals, businesses, or governments can all access, analyse, and leverage data to drive innovation, foster collaboration, and address societal challenges. In this context, data exchanges democratise access to information, breaking down silos and enabling broader participation in the data-driven economy. By enabling data sharing and collaboration within a particular domain, these exchanges empower startups, SMEs, and established enterprises to develop groundbreaking solutions and unlock new opportunities. Whether it’s leveraging healthcare data to develop personalised treatments or harnessing mobility data to optimise urban transportation systems, data exchanges fuel a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. 


India’s  Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)  initiatives  are already showing the way forward for the world, and the Global South in particular.   Aadhaar, India’s revolutionary biometric identification system, has revolutionised digital identity management, and is now being adopted in many other countries. Similarly,  Universal Payment Interface (UPI) has transformed India’s financial system and is set to do this in other parts of the world.  However, to fully unlock the transformative potential of digital technologies, it is essential to focus on harnessing the power of data. 


Data exchanges are burgeoning across India, enhancing various sectors. India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) enriches nearly fifty smart cities, optimising urban planning. Telangana’s Agricultural Data Exchange (ADeX) empowers smallholder farmers with vital insights for improved productivity and financial access.

These platforms bolster marginalised communities and foster social equity through data-driven decisions and collaboration. Yet, their integration into India’s Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) necessitates concerted efforts to tackle privacy, security, and governance challenges. Robust data protection policies, privacy-preserving tech, cybersecurity measures, and transparent governance are vital for stakeholder trust.


Furthermore, promoting data literacy and bolstering data management capacity ensure inclusive benefits. Strengthening these foundations enables equitable access to data exchange benefits across society.


In conclusion, data exchanges represent a transformative opportunity to propel India’s digital revolution to new heights. By embracing these platforms as vital pillars of DPI, India can unlock unprecedented opportunities for innovation, economic growth, and societal progress. As Prime Minister Modi aptly stated, “Digital India is the world’s largest platform for digital public infrastructure.” With data exchanges at its core, India’s digital future is poised for unparalleled success.