Future Data Marketplaces
Author: Dr. Arne Bröring, Research Scientist at Siemens AG
Today, data is the key resource – saying 'Data is the new Oil'. Collecting personal data about users (e.g., search engines or navigation systems) or created by users (e.g., photos or messages) is a major challenge but crucial to many of the most successful online-platform models of our time. As a result of new regulations on handling personal data, such as the GDPR, for many companies, it is vital to keep this resource closed. In other areas, such as the Internet of Things, a push towards opening data and sharing data is seen to offer new opportunities, e.g., for mobility in the smart cities domain, smart home spaces, connected cars or precision farming. Here, platforms are needed that make sharing data most efficient. In this context, marketplaces that provide access to data on-demand become increasingly important and will trigger new digital business models, services and greater benefits for citizens. Also in other domains, e.g., industrial manufacturing, a trend shows that industrial data shall be shared with specific third parties, e.g., for specialized analytics, predictive maintenance or tighter integration of the value chain. In both cases, enabling the monetization of using or processing of data is crucial for new business models.
Semantic data, data models and metadata are crucial elements for a viable and scalable concept of data marketplaces that create economic models to incentivize data-sharing; are a precondition for successful online platforms like Apple, Google et al.. These data marketplaces need to be capable of enabling data sharing in a trusted and secure manner where all the peers can equally contribute and every single step is auditable.
Besides the ability of monetization, data marketplaces also need to handle the heterogeneity of data and facilitate to involve stakeholders to efficiently discover, exchange and finally integrate data into their applications and products. Common vocabularies and semantic data models are important features of data marketplaces in order to bridge the interoperability gap and automate data integration at scale. The definition of metadata could be a way to abstract from underlying heterogeneous infrastructures. A viable design of a shared data space has to rely on agreed standards and common governance models to facilitate the secure exchange and easy linkage of data in business ecosystems.
In a recent workshop, invited experts and an audience of IoT ecosystem drivers discussed with the BIG IoT team about issues that are still open for establishing successful data marketplaces that are driven by communities. The BIG IoT project (EU H2020 grant no. 688038) has developed a marketplace and a complementary SDK that defined semantic models to establish interoperability between data providers and consumers, all accessible via the open source project Bridge.IoT of the Eclipse Foundation.
The topics discussed can be grouped in the following areas:
Communities as a matter of success for Open Marketplaces
A vibrant community or ecosystem that participates and is active on a marketplace is a key success factor. The value of a marketplace is given through the size of the community behind the marketplace. Connecting with an ecosystem established by a marketplace requires data interoperability through standardised data models. Metamodels could facilitate the abstraction across heterogeneous data sources. Agreed standards for data models and semantics facilitate data sharing, usage, their discovery and integration. Thereby, the underlying business models and opportunities on monetizing data via a marketplace are crucial for potential data provides, allowing a marketplace to scale. An open question thereby is who sets the standards for connectors that enable federation of data lakes, and whether these standards are open or proprietary. Standards are creating the opportunity for P2P marketplaces to scale. A domain-specific marketplace for geospatial data was presented by Uwe Hermanns, Head of OLP Business Development at HERE Technologies.
A turnkey approach for establishing broadening the participation on digital marketplaces is the involvement of a community behind a marketplace. The brokerage between an open but growing base of data providers on the one hand, but also the open API to connect to a community of developers for data analytics, visualisation and aggregation as a base for new application and services, on the other hand. The BIG IoT project goes open source. In case of BIG IoT, the marketplace, its underlying open semantic models as well as the accompanying SDK have been made open source as Bridge.IoT under the Eclipse Foundation. Through this mechanism, these technologies are open to a community.
Standards for connectors to tackled fragmentation of data spaces.
Another approach well known approach from Industrie 4.0 is open standards for marketplaces. Connectors comprise a group of standards and key components that give access to distributed data sources and tackle fragmentation of data lakes. Sebastian Steinbuß, Director Lead Architecture at the International Data Space Association (IDSA), contributes to this: “It is necessary to provide ecosystem specific platforms and solutions to establish marketplaces, but it is mandatory to create connectivity and trust between these solutions to achieve a comprehensive network that enables today's business for the data economy of tomorrow. This is what IDSA is about”.
Distributed, decentralised P2P Marketplaces need Blockchain
New technologies, such as distributed ledgers (e.g., Blockchain), can be used to enable trusted data marketplaces. Sharing of personal data represents a high level of complexity because the data owner (the user) is not identical with the data provider. Future scenarios might exploit blockchains to cope with the higher level of complexity and drive new applications for P2P trading in smart energy and connected driving. In order to make the sharing of data more secure and privacy aware (e.g., in compliance with the GDPR) a promising approach is to distribute data marketplaces using DLT blockchain approaches (e.g., for smart contracts or payment). Thereby, the federation of multiple marketplaces seems to be key in areas like Smart City, Energy, Mobility, or Farming, in order to be able to reap the benefits of data analytics (e.g., with AI). The value of AI could only be riped if AI algorithms can be applied to large amount of data.
Experts from Bosch and Siemens encouraged the representatives from start-ups that large industries are keen on working together on novel approaches in this area. Dieter Schule (COO & Co-Founder of MADANA) presented their patent pending technological solution that “securely bridges the gap between data and insight, in a decentralized manner. By this key technological and generic approach, every data economy platform in any industry will have the opportunity to get more insights on any data producers, all whilst staying GDPR compliant. This generic key technology enables companies to build efficient and privacy-preserving data platforms, as well as to design novel privacy-centric business models that will be the next evolutionary step of the customer-centric business model, especially here in Europe. The MADANA solution is the gear-wheel technology for various data marketplaces in the uprising European data economy. Europe historically has been behind the USA and China in regards to technological advancement. It is time we change this narrative”.
Blockchain applied down to IoT device level? IoT devices are resource-constraint and thereof cannot apply sophisticated security schemes, as such represent a possible backdoor for any cyber attack. Integrating Iot devices into a DLT/blockchain network would solve many of today's known security risks. In order to effectively connect IoT devices with blockchain technology, it is essential to use secure and distributed client technologies that require only a minimum of resources. Only in this way it is possible to eliminate central intermediaries/services and make the security and benefits of blockchain technology available for a variety of IoT devices. With INCUBED, Steffen Kux from Slock.it presented a "Minimal Verification Client" which is especially suitable for use in IoT devices, as it has very low hardware performance requirements and needs only low network traffic. That way, this client is able to run without any problems on a microcontroller and in environments where little data can be transferred. Regardless of the low resource requirements, this client runs completely decentralized and is able to independently verify all information from the blockchain. A suitable incentive system is the basis for a stable ecosystem based on INCUBED technology. Another feature is that this client is able to interact as a gateway with multiple blockchains and other verifiable data services.
Dr. Irene Lopez de Vallejo (Director of International Partnerships and Business Development of DEX and Founding Team Member of Ocean Protocol) introduced their vision for a new data economy and how to use their protocol to break data silos and equalise access to data for all. She says: "It is very important to realise we are living in an asymmetric relationship with data and that we must collectively change our business mindset as to its value when is locked up (close to zero) and the potential opened up by enabling secure controlled access to it, with clear provenance tools that allow to experiment and develop new business models". She gave a passionate speech to promote a data commons that would support collective development of solutions for the greater good and how the EC could support this type of data sharing initiatives through EU-wide regulatory sandboxes.
Under Horizon 2020, the Commission works in partnership with AIOTI on platforms and standards
Rolf Riemenschneider from the IoT Unit of the European Commission highlighted the strategic role of a marketplace as part of the Commission's Strategy for Digitising European Industry The project Big IoT is part of the Commission's cluster on the IoT-European Platforms Initiative (IoT-EPI.eu) It was supported from 2016-2018 to build a vibrant and sustainable IoT-ecosystem in Europe, maximising the opportunities for platform development, interoperability and information sharing. In the context of future and emerging standards and IoT interoperability and platforms, the Commission works in partnership with industry through the alliance AIOTI. The concept of a marketplace becomes a hot topic in the context of advanced and interoperable B2B platforms for manufacturing and energy, but also for connected driving and smart city. The project is encouraged to provide a clear positioning at current industrial initiatives like Industrial Data Space, Mindsphere, etc. but also to engage with a community of start-ups and developers to build a vibrant ecosystem behind its marketplace concept.
Author: Dr. Arne Bröring, Research Scientist at Siemens AG
Picture: "Attendees of the workshop at the Bosch IoT Campus in Berlin". © Jelena Mitic, Siemens
Add your comments to this blog below.