Palantir is not a “data broker” or “data aggregator.”
UK Government On Data:
Piper Sandler Are Bullish:
US data analytics group Palantir is gearing up to become the underlying operating system for the UK’s National Health Service, poaching senior NHS officials as part of a bid to win a £360mn contract to manage the data of millions of patients across England.
Palantir recently hired AI Chief From U.K.’s NHS as the company tried to expand further. Indra Joshi quit as director of AI for NHSX in March, saying it was “time to take a break before moving on to my next challenge.” She has since lined up a job with the U.S. data technology company founded by Peter Thiel.
A Palantir spokesman said the company was “delighted that Indra has agreed to join the team, which we are aiming to grow by 250 in the U.K. this year.”
The company is expanding rapidly in Britain, where it currently employs 600 people and processes sensitive data for the NHS, the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. Under the NHS Covid-19 Data Store contract, it is helping to clear the backlog of patient cases that were left untreated because of the pandemic.
“Palantir has said this is a must-win deal for them,” said a person with knowledge of Palantir’s expansion plans in the UK. “This is a five-year contract, with an option for an extension for two years. [Many people] think it’s really £1bn over 10 years. Once Palantir is in, how are you going to remove them?”
According to several figures at the NHS and at its suppliers, Palantir is viewed as the frontrunner for the FDP contract, which runs until 2027. The platform will be used for the national management of vaccines and immunisation programmes, population health, elective waiting lists and medicines and equipment supply chains, among other applications.
NHS England has announced plans to develop a £240 million ‘Federated Data Platform’ (FDP) via a prior information notice ahead of an open procurement.
One senior NHS official said Palantir was well-placed to win the bid, particularly when its work was assessed against failures elsewhere in the Covid response, notably deficiencies in the programme to test and track contacts of infected people. “If you were to compare the [successful] work that Palantir did in vaccines and PPE, with the work that Palantir didn’t do, which was test and trace . . . [Palantir] hasn’t let us down,” he said.
Other potential bidders could include consulting firms such as Accenture, PwC and KPMG, who have technology partners such as Oracle and Microsoft.
NHS England said the procurement process will start in early July and that it will be an open procurement to allow all suppliers a chance to bid.
OpenDemocracy reported that, “experts have warned that contracts with the secretive company could involve an “unprecedented” transfer of patients’ sensitive health information.”
Palantir has been awarded more than £46m in public contracts by the UK government and NHS since the start of 2020.
The British OpenDemocracy group said that, everyone should be worried about Palantir.
“At the bank JP Morgan, an investigations team worked with Palantir to find internal malpractice. Palantir’s tools inspired the team to collect as much data as possible on staff. A staffer wielding those tools lamented that: “The world changed when it became clear everyone could be targeted using Palantir… everyone’s a suspect, so we monitored everything. It was a pretty terrible feeling.”
Furthermore, OpenDemocracy said that Palantir is too powerful:
“While we have been assured that all the data being fed into the datastore is anonymised, even supposedly anonymised data can become linked amongst wider data pools. This is part of what makes Palantir’s products powerful.”
“Palantir’s software has been used by multiple US police departments. It works by collecting and linking millions of digital records to create a searchable database. That data is then run through an algorithm that can flag possible criminal suspects or identify crime hotspots.” (OpenDemocracy).
Furthermore, according to the British independent group, they mentioned how Palantir has been linked to racist police activities. “Such a system risks creating a feedback loop: people in over-policed neighbourhoods are “more likely to be stopped, thus increasing their point value, justifying their increased surveillance, and making it more likely that they will be stopped again in the future”, said Sarah Brayne, the author of ‘Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing’, in The Intercept.”
“Feedback loops like those discovered by researchers in Palantir’s US policing software could lead to pre-existing inequalities being reinforced in health systems. For example, Black people are more than four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act in the UK and more than ten times more likely to be subject to a community treatment order,” said OpenDemocracy.
Palantir is not a “data broker” or “data aggregator.”
“Palantir has often been described as a secretive company. There is some truth to this. For many years, we primarily served institutions with exceptional confidentiality expectations in fields like defence and intelligence. Palantir had little choice but to remain silent about our work, even when misunderstandings about the nature of the business appeared in the media or in the public sphere.”
Unlike many tech companies, the Palantir business model is not based on the monetisation of personal data. Palantir does not collect, store, or sell personal data. Palantir does not use personal data to train proprietary AI or machine learning models to share or resell to other customers. Palantir never facilitates the movement of data between clients, except where those specific clients have entered into an agreement with each other.
“Palantir builds digital infrastructure for data-driven operations and decision making. Our products serve as the connective tissue between an organisation’s data, its analytics capabilities, and operational execution. Palantir’s platforms tie these together by bringing the right data to the people who need it, allowing them to take data-driven decisions, conduct sophisticated analytics, and refine operations through feedback. We license this software to organisations, who receive secure and unique instances of our platforms in which to conduct their own work on their own data.”
This infrastructure helps organisations bring the right data together at the right time to answer complex questions and make intelligent decisions. This is particularly valuable when existing systems are fragmented, and essential information is held in silos that can’t communicate with each other.
Healthcare organisations, for instance, have used the Palantir software to tackle challenges like efficiently allocating PPE supplies when thousands of hospitals across the country have radically different and constantly changing levels of supply and demand for each item of PPE.
“With regards to customer data, Palantir acts as a data processor, not a data controller. Our software and services are used under direction from the organisations that license our products: these organisations define what can and cannot be done with their data; they control the Palantir accounts in which analysis is conducted; and any Palantir engineers that assist them in their work follow these directions.”
Palantir does not and cannot reuse or transfer our clients’ data for our own purposes.
“Attempting to profit from customer data in this way would be illegal and would undermine the trust that is necessary to work in the sensitive environments in which we have built our business, said the company”.
Microsoft will be competing aggressively against Palantir for this contract.
Microsoft are building a platform to aid the fragmentation between databases, analytics, and governance via the “intelligent data platform.” This is an effort to bring the company’s existing database, analytics and governance services closer together.
“This is about bringing all of our data products together into one fabric so you as developers can shift focus towards creativity instead of spending time on governance”, said CEO Satya Nadella. Interestingly, this calls into question the focus on interoperability of third party solutions, in which is common within the Palantir OS. Microsoft seem to solely want to integrate all of their products together into one fabric, in comparison to enabling interoperability of third party solutions, like Palantir.
Furthermore, the product enables a seamless data platform, in which can empower organizations to invest more time into creating value rather than integrating and managing their data estate.
The 3 main principles that this product is focused upon is, integration of:
Microsoft & Palantir have competed beforehand for the SkyWise contract. Whilst Microsoft had the original contract with Boeing, for a platform analytics software in order to empower data to create insights, Palantir 2 years later managed to replace Microsoft as the dominant OS system for Skywise.
The release data for this contract is expected any time now. The publication of the contract notice was estimated to be announced on 6th June 2022.
The notice states that the data platform will be an “essential enabler to transformational improvements” across the NHS and will be an “ecosystem of technologies and services”.
The new data platform will be built around five major use cases, each wide-ranging in scope:
- Population health and person insight
- Care coordination (with focus on ICS)
- Elective recovery (with focus on trusts)
- Vaccines and immunisation
- Supply chain
There is a suggestion that the procurement will consist of two lots – one to be for the platform itself, with the capacity for ICS integration and the relevant consultancy and communications support, and the other for privacy-enhancing technology.
UK Government On Data:
Within a recent article posted by the UK Government, included within was an explicit description and coverage of Palantir & the work achieved during the pandemic.
“We will put data at the heart of our decision-making, learning explicitly from the approach we have taken in responding to COVID-19. We will set a presumption in favour of openness and a requirement to share data across departments, so that policies are informed by the best data analysis from across government. We will create data inventories to ensure we know what data exists, where it is stored, and how it can be accessed.”
“We will make data visualisation a common tool to ensure Ministers and officials understand in real time the latest evidence underpinning decisions”.
Piper Sandler Are Bullish:
Piper Sandler interestingly mention that, COVID was a major catalyst for Palantir, and this is going to have “long-term benefits”. This is in opposition to other investment firms whom state that Palantir experienced “one-off” benefits related to COVID, and now these benefits will no longer be recognised. Piper Sandler however state that, due to the COVID catalyst, this has majorly benefitted Palantir across the Government. This perhaps relates to Palantir’s stickiness as a software solution.
“Key government agencies, such as the CDC, NIH, FDA, and Air Force, as agencies rapidly adopted technology to track cases and resources during the pandemic. These initial use-cases likely acted as a catalyst for further adoption; for example, Air Force expanded its contract to include broader operations efforts.”
Piper Sandler successfully demonstrates the utility of Palantir’s software solution, and the fact that Palantir has a sticky product offering. “PLTR has maintained long-lasting relationships with government customers. PLTR has maintained relationships and contracts with the Army, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, CDC, ICE, and FBI for at least 10 consecutive years each. We believe these long-lasting partnerships demonstrate both the usefulness of PLTR’s platform and high switching costs once embedded.”
Palantir has a range of long lasting relationships with the Governmental agencies.
• Navy: 2008 – Present (14 years)
• Army: 2009 – Present (13 years)
• U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM): 2009 – Present (13 years)
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 2010 – Present (12 years)
• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): 2011 – Present (11 years)
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): 2012 – Present (10 years)
• Department of Justice (DOJ), Other: 2012 – Present (10 years)
• Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): 2016 – Present (6 years)
• Food and Drug Administration (FDA): 2017 – Present (5 years)
• Internal Revenue Service (IRS): 2018 – Present (4 years)
• National Institutes of Health (NIH): 2018 – Present (4 years)
• Air Force: 2020 – Present (2+ years)
In addition to these long lasting relationships, Palantir is still signing new contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Energy within 2021. These amounted to $19M, and $14M respectively per-year.
It seems illogical to conclude that these long lasting relationships will suddenly break-off. Instead, according to Piper Sandler, these relationships are likely to show the overall stickiness, and excessive integration that Palantir offers. Unless something majorly wrong occurs within the Palantir OS, for example an unexpected issue, it seems illogical to assume that these software solutions will suddenly become removed.