September 28, 2023

Mobility Data Space – Improving mobility, sustainably

The world of mobility is evolving rapidly with an increasing emphasis on sustainability and efficiency. What does the future of individual and mass transport look like? How can data spaces support the transition? We interviewed Tobias Miethaner, Managing Director of the Mobility Data Space (MDS); Norbert Baumert, IT Project Manager; and Catrin Schlatmann, responsible for communication at MDS. They discussed how data spaces can contribute to fostering better and greener mobility.

The Mobility Data Space (MDS) was initiated by Germany’s Federal Government in 2019. Over 200 stakeholders from academia, industry, and public administration collaborated to create an open data space, enabling the utilization of real-time mobility data. The MDS is a data marketplace where equal partners from the mobility sector can share data. The data provider maintains full ownership and sovereignty over the data, retaining the autonomy to decide when and with which participant to engage in the data sharing process. In doing so, the MDS brings together companies, organizations, and institutions: Those that want to monetize their data treasures and those that need data for innovative mobility solutions, but in many cases also to create a win-win situation for mutual benefits through a targeted exchange of data.

Data sharing based on data sovereignty

Built on the IDS Reference Architecture Model, the MDS establishes an ecosystem in which data providers can specify and control the conditions under which others utilize their data. This enables data sovereignty and trust, providing users with assurance regarding data origin and quality. By integrating open and private data through IDS-based data connectors, the MDS becomes a digital distribution channel for data-driven business models.

Tobias Miethaner declares, the MDS pursues two goals: On the one hand, they want to enable their participants to create data-based solutions for mobility, enable better mobility, cleaner mobility, safer mobility. On the other hand, they’d also like to promote data use in general. Consequently, every kind of data that concerns the area of mobility can be found in the MDS. This includes the data used for business cases like local hazard information, travel mode recommendations based on weather conditions, AI-driven enhancements for mobility efforts, or parking availability at train stations.

“We have a number of use cases that are already very mature,” Miethaner emphasizes. He singled out a practical case: Soon, data on the occupancy of parking spaces available at the stations throughout Germany will be provided. This data will be transmitted by car manufacturers to car owners so they can see the occupancy rate in real time. The technical connection is currently in the process of being implemented.

Diverse partners and use cases

The MDS is not solely about vehicle data, as one might expect in the mobility sector. It encompasses a wide variety of data such as insurance data, weather data and administrative data. The same is true for the participants: Vodafone, Deutsche Bahn, DHL, HUK Coburg insurance, Tier Mobility, transport associations, three German states – to name just a few.

“We deliberately use the subtitle Data Sharing Community. Because our goal is to build this community, to form a network,” Schlatmann says. Community-building activities are the key to MDS’s success. People need to come together and share success stories and also what didn’t work. The team behind the MDS has established working groups to allow the exchange among participants.

Stronger together

Originated as a German initiative, the scope of the MDS extends beyond national borders. “We were founded against the backdrop of an EU action plan to merge all data spaces across sectors and countries at a later date,” Catrin Schlatmann says. “That’s why we have been on your radar from the beginning and have also participated in various IDSA events in the European context, to share, network, and to get valuable information from others.”

The radar referred to by Catrin Schlatmann is IDSA’s Data Spaces Radar, which serves as a platform to showcase use cases and data spaces that have adopted the IDS standard. With the increasing count of data spaces, it is crucial for organizations to grasp the trajectory towards sovereign data sharing. The radar categorizes data spaces based on their domain and solution maturity.

The next big step is now to put the use cases into practice. That’s a big milestone, not just for Mobility Data Space but for the entire data space community.

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