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Secure sharing supports data sovereignty and business between organisations

14.05.2021
Juha Lyijynen
Opinion

Data silos and information security concerns prevent organisations from benefiting from each other’s know-how. VTT and Vastuu Group’s Platform of Trust service connected and measured the energy consumption and CO2 emission data of a transport and a building data platform. The project has helped tackle regional emissions and supported secure data flows between organisations.

Platform of Trust is a service that enables compatible data flows from any source system to any application or user interface. It was developed by Vastuu Group in order to enhance data driven development and data sharing in the fields of real estate and construction. Vastuu Group is a Finnish company that promotes digitalisation in the built environment and a more sustainable life for people and the environment through reliable data.

Silos prevent organisations from sharing data

Businesses and other organisations are wary of sharing their data in fear of data breaches. Revealing trade secrets or personal information is a risk that few organisations can afford to take lightly. As a result, data often stays stagnant with few parties utilising or doing business with it. Another problem with data sharing is that different platforms rarely communicate fluently with each other. Data harmonisation is required to make the data easy to use for a variety of purposes. "Companies have an abundance of data, but they are afraid of sharing it. To enable free flow of data, we first have to create safe ways to combine and harmonise it", according to VTT’s research scientist Ilkka Niskanen.

Data harmonisation makes energy consumption and emissions transparent

The International Data Spaces Association (IDSA) strives to promote data sharing and sovereignty by combining business, innovative technological solutions and EU legislation. VTT has collaborated with IDSA in implementing a global data standard, IDS, which guarantees data privacy and security between communicating information platforms.

In 2020, VTT teamed up with Vastuu Group for a CO2 and energy consumption measurement project that provided a possibility to validate IDSA’s vision and the IDS technology with businesses. The goal of the project was to use the IDS standard to reveal the energy consumption and emissions information found in Helsinki Region Transport’s (HSL) and a specific city district’s data platforms. This way the data of both public transport and buildings could be taken into account when searching for ways to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint in a certain area. The project required developing a solution that would enable smooth data transfer without sacrificing information security. Even though HSL already had an API that allowed access to their data platform, the data wasn’t completely compatible with the building platform. Vastuu Group and VTT created a solution that enables the two different data platforms to communicate fluently with each other. While VTT implemented the IDS connector that secures the data transfer between the two platforms, Vastuu Group offered a modular Platform of Trust solution to harmonise the data after it is deemed secure. The solution yielded several benefits:

  • Improved visibility into the total CO2 emissions and energy consumption of buildings and public transport;
  • More data to support urban planners towards carbon neutrality;
  • A standardised data model product and increased maturity of Platform of Trust to create trust in the medium and long term;
  • Business reference how IDS can be utilised. 

Trust between organisations is key for business synergies

In addition to case-specific benefits, the project between VTT and Vastuu Group had a larger global context. As part of the IDSA vision for a more transparent and safe information exchange culture, the project showed promise in many aspects:

  1. Shared understanding and trust: Secure data lowers the threshold for different organisations to share their knowledge and expertise. This brings synergies and innovation to future business endeavours, as organisations move from siloing data inside internal systems to sharing it globally.
  2. Validation and growth: The IDS standard needs to be tested in genuine business environments that validate its benefits. The project between VTT and Vastuu Group is one of the concrete steps on the way forward. 
  3.  Fast business launch: Many industries require new businesses to master several value chains and processes before value creation is possible. Easy and secure data sharing enables new businesses or partnerships to skip many slow and arduous phases and tasks that have traditionally prevented them from value creation at the beginning of their journey.

This project helped realise the potential of a wider European data space dimension and supported its adoption. Collaborative ecosystems and trusted data sharing standards, such as IDS, are essential building blocks for a new era of data, according to Mikko Sierla (International Affairs, Vastuu Group). The next step is to take the experience gained from this collaboration to further projects. New innovations are built around sharing information and understanding each other’s needs better. There’s plenty of potential to scale this project internationally, Sierla concludes.

This article was originally published by VTT. Access the original here.

 

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Image credit:
VTT Research

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