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iSHARE: Sharing Dutch transport and logistics data

Organisations are starting to realise that in order to stay competitive and to increase their efficiency, they need to share data.”

Eefje van der Harst – Project Manager from INNOPAY

Data in the transport and logistics sector

The transport and logistics sector is currently booming in the Netherlands. It is one of the key sectors driving the Dutch economy, and the Dutch government is keen to sustain this growth and maintain its leading position in the global market. To achieve this, they have committed to continue improving and innovating the sector through supporting efficiency gains by making operations in the supply chain smoother. One way the government has done this is by creating and supporting the data sharing initiative iSHARE – a collaboration between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment that supports the Dutch transport and logistics sector by improving its efficiency and reducing costs and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through connecting different stakeholders with a trust framework.  

iSHARE – data sharing in the Dutch transport and logistics sector

iSHARE went live in 2018. Before its launch, the Dutch logistics sector was inefficient with, for example, high levels of road congestions. A reason for this high congestion was that trucks were waiting in the Dutch harbour because it was unclear if the ship they needed was already in the harbour or where the specific location of their container was. This uncertainty was because the data about the ships and containers were inaccessible, fragmented, and not shared between partners. This meant that planning could not be optimised and that the supply chain remained inefficient. After iSHARE was created, conditions for data sharing were improved which led to a higher efficiency gain where congestion declined (and by extension also reducing CO2 emissions) and businesses based in the Netherlands could save money, further boosting the Dutch economy.

During the initiative’s inception, it was decided that instead of creating a single platform, iSHARE would be a trust framework. This means that iSHARE does not have a central infrastructure. Through this trust framework, companies in the transport and logistics sector can keep data as close to the source as possible. Moreover, this data can remain under the control of entitled parties, where they can decide what data is shared with whom, under what conditions and for what purpose. At most, iSHARE will have a list of participants – people and organisations that have entered the framework and have agreed and proven that they conform to the operational, technical and legal specification – in a database. This concept and the idea of “embracing fragmentation” resonated within the sector because it addressed trust issues between companies and government bodies who were cautious about how the data they share would be distributed and used. Thus, in 2017 INNOPAY received the opportunity to guide the sector and to co-create the iSHARE trust framework together with about 20 organisations from the transport and logistics sector. Examples of these organisations are Dutch Customs, Portbase, Secure Logistics, and Hutchinson Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT).  Moreover, it was agreed that the initiative’s scope would be limited and focus only on:

  1. Identification – determining who the individual is;
  2. Authentication – proving an individual’s identity; and
  3. Authorisation – establishing how systems and organisations can identify and authenticate that an individual is authorised to access or publish certain data.

Data ownership

iSHARE participants can decide which other parties they will share their data with and under what conditions. Following the initiative’s creation, a generic set of requirements for organisations in the sector was created. This set of requirements can be used by all organisations, irrespective of their size or modality. In addition, it was decided that iSHARE’s framework would be limited with no discussion on data standards because it was domain specific. Instead, a generic infrastructure that is feasible for all organisations was prioritised. By using generic standards that create and support interoperability, organisations can more easily and efficiently create new connections and share data safely with multiple parties. Currently, we are in a world where organisations have unique and specialised connections with others, creating a whirlpool of different connections that is difficult to holistically maintain and secure. To navigate through this whirlpool, it is important to work with (international) standards so that systems can be integrated with other parties with certainty that data is being shared securely. Furthermore, usage of these standards ensures that only people who are authorised to access the data can view and use it.

Securing data sharing

As organisations discuss data sharing, they will look for ways to do so in a secure manner. This means that technical and legal standards are crucial. When joining iSHARE, all participants are required to sign an accession agreement, where they agree to adhere to the terms of use that are in accordance with Dutch contract law. This means that all participants are held to the same agreement and no separate bi-lateral agreements need to be made with other organisations. Once the agreement is signed with the scheme owner (now iSHARE Foundation), the participants are bound to the same contract with the other organisations.

In terms of licensing, iSHARE has standardised a few licenses that organisations can use during a transaction to provide instructions on how a service can be consumed or under which conditions data can be exchanged. Here, organisations can state what data can and cannot be shared. For example, organisations can choose to:

  • Have no limitations on data sharing;
  • Place a condition stating that this data can only be shared and used for internal purposes; or
  • State that the data can be used for non-commercial purposes under the condition that it is not used to generate revenues.  

The standards and licenses in iSHARE were leveraged from existing frameworks. One example is the Trust Services and Electronic identification (eIDAS) – an EU regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions across Europe. Furthermore, in addition to the mandatory standards and licenses in the initiative, participants also need to adhere to generic law in Europe, including GDP and competition law.

Future of data sharing in the logistics sector and iSHARE

As stated, organisations across the world are realising that in order to stay competitive and increase their efficiency, they need to share data. Moreover, they need to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances in the market, which can be achieved through collaboration and sharing information.  Across Europe, stakeholders – including government bodies and businesses – are critical on the dominance of platforms and in centralising data. Thus, the iSHARE trust framework perfectly fits in this growing momentum in Europe about the importance of data sovereignty and in keeping data de-centralised, meaning that data is only shared under the control of entitles parties.

As of 1 October, iSHARE is formally owned by the iSHARE foundation. Following the interview with Eefje van der Harst (the previous iSHARE Project Manager from INNOPAY), the SCDS team also interviewed the current Executive Director of the iSHARE Foundation: Gerard van der Hoeven.

 

Name 

iSHARE 

Sector 

Transport and logistics sector

Region 

European Union 

Countries 

The Netherlands 

Time 

2017 - ongoing 

URL 

https://www.ishareworks.org/

Business model  

Government-to-Business 

Participants 

More than 20 logistics organisations, including Dutch Customs, Portbase, Secure Logistics, and Hutchinson Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT). 

Type of organisation 

Any

Data sharing model(s)  

Any

Core impact  

Establishing a trust framework for organisations within the Dutch transport and logistics sector that enables participants to determine who their data is shared with, under what conditions and for what purpose.

Context 

iSHARE is a trust framework for stakeholders in the Dutch transport and logistics sector. The initiative promotes efficiency gains along the supply chain in the sector.