January 20, 2021

Engineering: The Relevance of Open-Source Technologies for a Smarter Industry 4.0 (Part 1/2)

The open-source movement was encouraged by programmers around the world to improve upon software. And in this context, secure and sovereign data sharing is of central importance. In a two-part blog series, Angelo Marguglio from Engineering R&D Lab provides an overview on how IDSA and Fiware communities are now the cornerstone of a broader roadmap for making open-source technologies a reality for many SMEs and large enterprises.
Angelo Marguglio

These days open-source software is everywhere. It has reshaped the landscape in the IT industry, as well as provided new innovations in many industrial sectors, especially the ones where new businesses can be established if ran in a data-driven fashion, such as in manufacturing. At European level, many initiatives in the past have already established a framework where to contextualize the adoption and spread of open-source technologies. Among others we may mention the European Iinteroperability Framework (EIF) Communication, the Digital Strategy, the Data Strategy, the Digital Europe Program, and the Tallinn Declaration.

The open-source software strategy of the European Commission

Engineering Ingegneria Informatica promotes the development and the adoption of open source in manufacturing, and now it is playing a pivotal role in many EU-led initiatives towards a broader business uptake of open-source technologies. In a recent communication, dated back to October 2020, the European Commission has delivered its own open-source software strategy for the next four years term and beyond (learn more on “Communication to the Commission – Open Source Software Strategy 2020 – 2023 – Think Open”), claiming open-source software as one of the major drivers to invigorate the EU’s unique social market economy, and work towards technological sovereignty. Properly implemented, this strategy, its governing principles and its action plan, will help us build and deliver better ICT solutions and services, to leverage the innovative and collaborative power of open source. In fact, this strategy sets out how we can leverage open-source principles and software development practices to co-create, share and reuse across organizations.

Open source promotes competition and increases trust

Engineering’s business focuses on transformative and innovative aspects and recognizes open source as a catalyst for change. To this end, open source allows for incremental innovation, based on the sharing of intangible assets (e.g. knowledge, skills and expertise, technologies, software solutions, data, and business models). Openness promotes competition and increases trust in many sectors, contributing to solve complex technological and business problems towards the creation of innovative solutions for a global economy.

At Engineering R&D Lab we believe that sharing will help maximise the growth potential of the digital economy, while progressing towards a concrete digital autonomy for Europe.

Engineering is committed to the creation and nurturing of innovation communities targeting the wide spread of open-source technologies, hereby aiming to providing a strong contribution on building an open sustainable EU ecosystem around open implementation-driven software platform standards.

In the past years, Engineering has been actively contributing to many EU-led initiatives (such as FIWARE Foundation, International Data Spaces Association – IDSA, Big Data Value Association – BDVA, European Cyber Security Organisation – ECSO, European Organisation for Security – EOS, Networked European Software and Service Initiative – NESSI) designing open standards, adopting open technologies and developing OS solutions (e.g. Knowage, Digital Enabler, Idra, OPC UA IoT Agent, DIHIWARE).

Long-term partners to promote the IDS standard

The International Data Spaces Association (IDSA) is working on rising awareness and promoting (at policymaking, technological and business level) the relevance of the sovereign exchange of data without losing control over their usage. The basis for the success of the IDS is having trustworthy connectors and components, which ensure data security and its verifiable enforcement through data usage control. Their correct implementation is ensured by following well-established standards (such as the DIN SPEC 27070) and by having a transparent and trustworthy evaluation and certification process and facilities.

Already in 2018, Engineering was one of the earliest international associates of the IDSA, promoting its strategic and structural mission in Italy being among the three funding members of the IDSA Italian Hub established to promote IDSA standards and solutions towards Italian SMEs and large enterprises. Engineering is an active member of the IDSA Architecture Working Group, supported also with the development of open-source solutions, such as the TRUE (TRUsted Engineering) Connector. Furthermore, Engineering is member of the IDS-I Industrial Community recently created, and it is also contributing to the IDSA Launch Coalition, where it is developing a use case in the aeronautics industry on top of the Digital Enabler.

Defining the governance of GAIA-X

Engineering and IDSA are also Day-1 members of the GAIA-X Foundation with an active role in defining the governance of the project. It facilitates the participation of businesses and national players by promoting awareness and visibility activities. Provided with the same rights as the founding members, Engineering contributes to designing the architecture of GAIA-X and establishing the basic principles on which the whole infrastructure is based. With its participation in this project, Engineering reaffirms its belief in the need to create a Data Space Economy, exploiting digital solutions based on the principles of data sovereignty and on the highest standards of security and interoperability.

At the Data Ecosystems Day on Nov 26th, Engineering presented the state of play on Data Spaces in action and Data Ecosystems, hosting among others a panel discussion on the role of the IDS in marketplaces for industrial production and supply chains, among the sectors more under pressure due to the Coronavirus pandemic consequences.

To tackle the preparedness for pandemics such as COVID-19, Engineering launched the H2020 project Eur3ka, aiming to develop an IDS-powered global Plug&Response (P&R) repurposing framework, built upon upgraded digital manufacturing infrastructures and enhanced on-demand global manufacturing as a service (MaaS) platforms for certified production processes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Clinical Care Equipment (CCE).

Author: Angelo Marguglio
Angelo Marguglio is the Research Area Manager and Head of the Smart Industry and Agrifood Unit at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica.

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