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Data Space Innovation Lab leads the way to data economy

15.06.2022 | News

The trustworthy sharing of confidential data is becoming a reality. VTT has published a Data Space Innovation Lab infrastructure that is based on IDSA reference testbed components. The Data Space Innovation Lab aims at facilitating testing of data economy concepts and preserving data sovereignty in confidential data sharing between companies and organisations.  It supports the development and utilization of data spaces by offering the most essential data space features and services such as e.g., identity management and querying of available data resources.

We often talk about “data spaces” but do we actually know what a data space is and how it can be used effectively? The concept of data space refers to a type of data relationship between trusted partners, each of whom apply the same high standards and rules to the storage and sharing of data. In addition, data spaces can be characterised by certain requirements that partly distinguish them from classical centralized data platforms, for example:

  • Decentralization – data are not stored centrally but at source and are therefore only shared (via semantic interoperability) when necessary
  • Data sovereignty – data owner can control the use of its data and value capture from it
  • Neutrality – different actors and stakeholders are treated equally within a dataspace
  • Identity management – refers to identification, authentication and authorization of organizations or persons
  • Traceability – transactions made within the distributed system should be recorded and logged
  • Data interoperability – the ability to establish a mutual understanding on the structure and semantic meaning of data
  • Data findability – the ability to discover available data services through e.g., service catalogues

The VTT Data Space Innovation Lab provides the experimental data space as a service for companies interested in data economy and data sharing. Currently, we support two main use cases:

  • The experimental data space infrastructure (or one of its components) can be used as a baseline for developing customized data space solutions for specific application domains or use cases. This allows the testing of business concepts and building of proof of concepts before investing in real-life solutions.
  • The second use case is performing compatibility tests for existing IDS connectors. The developers are often able to create their own connector implementations, but they are not sure whether the connectors truly meet the required IDS specifications and whether they are interoperable with existing IDS reference implementations. The testing procedure consists of verifying that the connector under test can successfully communicate and share data with the components hosted by our data space infrastructure, including identity provider, metadata repository and IDS connector.

We will continue improving our Data Space Innovation Lab and extending its capabilities to support various data space development needs. We are currently creating more easy-to-use graphical user interfaces to facilitate the configuration and deployment of the provided components with various types of back-end systems. We will extend the infrastructure with a so-called “clearing house” service that logs the details of data exchange transactions to facilitate billing and conflict resolution. We will also add a vocabulary provider component that manages and offers vocabularies (i.e., ontologies). The vocabularies can be used for annotating and describing data and datasets, which facilitates interoperability between systems and platforms.

Data spaces are a rapidly emerging solution to address the needs of data sharing and data economy. EU is currently launching massive investments in the creation of data space solutions and best practices for several business sectors. Hundreds of millions of euros are spent during next years to boost the European data economy. VTT’s Data Space Innovation Lab is an easy path forward for businesses that want to take part in this huge transition and opportunity.



Ilkka Niskanen
Juha-Pekka Soininen