In the data ecosystem, the more, higher quality, useful, up-to-date and reliable data, the better. This is not possible without mechanisms to facilitate their exchange, regardless of their origin and other differentiating factors. To promote this situation, the European Union is working on the creation of various common data spaces for different professional environments. Let’s take a look at the value of these and what is being done to make them a reality.
What are European Common Data Spaces?
The concept of a common European data space is fairly intuitive. Simply put, they bring together data infrastructures and related governance frameworks to facilitate the sharing, interoperability and exchange of data between all EU member states.
According to the European Data Strategy, these common spaces are responsible for:
- Implement data exchange solutions and services for data sharing, processing and exchange between an open number of organisations.
- Include data governance structures that are fully compatible with European law. They will therefore transparently and fairly determine the rights related to accessing and processing information.
- Improve the availability, quality and interoperability of data in all kinds of environments and sectors.
Why are Common Data Spaces needed in Europe?
Firstly, because we are at a time when the ideal conditions are in place to unleash the full potential of data-driven innovation. This is mainly due to the fact that the two main obstacles holding back this progress, namely legal and technical barriers to data exchange, are being broken down.
This will make all data from each EU member state available for reliable and secure exchange. In this way, all kinds of public and private entities, as well as citizens, will be able to take full advantage of it.
Through this harnessing, new products and services will be developed and thus the role of data in Europe’s economic and competitive growth will become even more central.
Main common data spaces being worked on in the European Union
Motivated by the potential of these common data spaces, the EU authorities themselves and the member states are focusing a great deal of effort on generating them. Let us take a look at the most relevant ones, which are included in this publication by the Commission itself.
Industrial data space
For the manufacturing sector, data exchange is invaluable not only for new product development, but also for finding ways to optimise operations already in place on the shop floor. The end result will be a more flexible and resilient supply chain.
In recent years, local industrial data spaces have been created in an embryonic state. In them, the companies that comprise them are debating what data to share and the rules to govern it all, as well as pushing for their software providers to support certain formats and semantics.
There is now a demonstrated need to expand these local spaces so that they acquire a critical mass of businesses that allows for a truly valuable exchange of data and attracts technology providers to develop tailor-made solutions.
European Green Pact Area
The European Green Deal, launched in 2019, aims to make Europe climate neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
To meet this objective, accessible and interoperable data, combined with the right infrastructure and technologies, must facilitate informed decision-making to address the environmental challenges we face.
Some of the key actions being deployed in this regard are:
- The “GreenData4all” initiative, through which the European Commission will review the existing rules on geospatial environmental data and access to it.
- Fund an action to create a sustainable data governance scheme, as well as a plan to connect national, regional and local data ecosystems.
- Work to pave the way for the adoption of local digital Earth twins.
- Paving the way for a gradual roll-out of circular economy oriented digital product passports.
Mobility data space
It should drive the digital transformation of the European passenger and freight transport sector for the benefit of all stakeholders, including business, governments and users.
This sector has the advantage of already having a number of regulatory frameworks in place to manage the exchange of B2B, B2G, G2B and G2G data. Each with their respective standards, architectures, etc., which need to be taken into account when creating a common European space.
It would also be interesting to support exchange with other directly related sectors, such as construction, energy, environment and health.
Health data space
It is essential for the prevention, detection and cure of diseases, and for making informed decisions to improve the accessibility, efficiency and sustainability of health systems. To achieve this, it is based on:
- Ensure access, exchange and use of health data to improve health care.
- Promote a single market for digital health services and products.
- Facilitate access to and re-use of data for research, innovation, public health policy making.
In addition, work is being done to extend the geographical coverage of MyHealth@EU, the infrastructure for establishing cross-border eHealth services; and to enable the exchange of diagnostic images, test results and other related documents.
Financial data space
The use of financial information involves a variety of data sets, such as personal and non-personal data and public and private property. In addition, these may be publicly disclosed by the company, they may be commercial data or data that is submitted to supervisory authorities.
Among the most common types of financial data are those related to savings accounts, mortgages, credits, investments, pensions, insurance. In addition, innovation in finance increasingly relies on non-financial information, but has some relation to the latter.
Therefore, to ensure the desired interoperability, the European financial data space should be developed in close connection with data spaces in other sectors.
Energy data space
A common European energy data space will benefit the green and digital transitions currently underway in Europe. It will play a particular role in the growth of renewable energy efficiency to achieve a smooth transition to electrification of other sectors.
Among the steps being taken towards the creation of this common European energy data space is the large-scale pilot project INTERCONNECT, which is investigating the value of business-to-business data exchange to define new applications for the energy transition.
Agricultural data space
This data space should facilitate the sharing and exchange of agricultural data between private stakeholders (farmers, machinery companies, data service providers, etc.) as well as between public administrations.
Several actions have already been launched to improve the discoverability and accessibility of interoperable European agricultural data through the re-use of the European Spatial Data Infrastructure (INSPIRE Directive).
In conclusion, many measures are being taken to accelerate the development of common data spaces in different scenarios. The evolution of these actions will have to be monitored and we will have to appreciate how the value of duly shared information for the objectives set for social and economic growth is growing all the time.
At Geograma, with our projects, we do our bit to ensure that this process continues to move forward without pause. If you want to know more about our work, we invite you to read these success stories or contact us directly.