July 22, 2019

Building the European Industrial Data Space or “Learning to Surf”

Once you made it, it will always be possible for you!
Christoph Mertens

The last General Assembly of our research project BOOST 4.0 took place in Lisbon, Portugal. In Costa da Caparica to be more precise. It is the current place to be if you want to ride some waves. The organizer of the GA was UNINOVA, one of the 50 partners of the project, who organized a surfing lesson the afternoon before the Assembly. 

We teamed up at the surf school, dressed ourselves with neos, and prepared the boards. After a little warm up and practicing on the beach, we went into the Atlantic Ocean. Our mission: “catch a big wave and surf it till the end!”

Now I can say that it is really a hard thing to accomplish! Nearly all of us were not able to make it all the way to the beach standing up straight. It was the very first time on a board for most of us and challenges seemed endless. Sometimes you get pushed under the surface after falling off and even though you are with a team, you are basically on your own trying not to get overrun by other boards or getting hit by your own. Moreover, there are so many things that one must take into account! Wait for the right moment to start paddling, keep your legs together, shoulders up, don’t put your weight too much onto the nose, but also not too far onto the back of the board, watch out for other surfers in the water and so on…. 

And when that moment finally comes when you realize that you have caught a long-awaited wave, you try to stand up, and then, you are either already at the beach or under water.

What kept me going on was the confidence of the coaches. “Once you made it, it will always be possible for you!” And the best thing is, you can learn from those who have already mastered it.

What we experienced this afternoon is basically what is also happening in the work package of BOOST 4.0 where we develop the European Industrial Data Space together with 40 out of 50 partners. The so called EIDS is based on what the IDSA has developed with the International Data Space Reference Architecture. Our mission: “Build the EIDS ecosystem!”

We formed teams and prepared the necessary equipment. We warmed up and got into first contact with the topic IDS in several calls and workshops without really implementing things at first. We are a big step further since then. We are currently floating in the sea trying to learn to surf. We are together out there as a team, but at the same time on our own when it comes to implementing connectors, app stores, brokers and other IDS based components. Challenges seem to be endless at this point. There are so many details to consider. After deciding, which role to take in the big picture of the EIDS, we had to build the architecture for our concrete scenarios, trying to rethink well established approaches and business models for existing Big Data platforms and services, dealing with complex semantic models, motivating data providers to share their data to set up realistic demonstrators, using open source components – not all of them easy to understand and handle. And when you think you got the twist on how future data economy with the EIDS ecosystem will be like, you get into a discussion that makes you rethink your approach from ground up.

Regardless of the challenges that we are facing in BOOST 4.0, there are first implementations that clearly show that it is possible to build IDS based components even though it can be difficult sometimes. We are talking about an entire MVP consisting of connectors from different companies and different purposes implemented by ATLANTIS, FIWARE and University of Bonn, a Broker from Uni Bonn and a Data App that paves the way for a federated Clearing House based on Blockchain by IBM.

To sum it up: First partners made it to the beach, they managed to catch the wave and to stand up on their board. Now that this is achieved others will follow. For those who already managed to handle the basics we can now start refining their technique – building more refined components like App Stores or the Big Data Apps that are so important for our replication pilots.

One last message for those who were not able to catch a wave or stand up on the board yet: “Keep going! Once you made it, it will always be possible for you!”

Text By:

Christoph Mertens, Costa da Caparica, 11.07.2019

Author: Christoph Mertens
Head of Adoption at IDSA

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