My Digital Garden



Good morning! Thank you for that introduction, Colin. Space is said to be the final frontier according to StarTrek. And the European Data Space is Geo-data’s new frontier. Hence the image, a photo of earth showing the European continent. The image was created by an AI image generator, and you can see that it does not reflect reality. I think that nicely illustrates what is at stake for geo data in the new frontier that is the European Data Space.

What I’d like to do in the coming minutes is to give you a few nudges for your discussions today and beyond this event. To provide you with a perspective and a few questions that are connected to the changing environment, a European data ecosystem even, that is taking shape all around us. That change starts from the European digital and data strategies, and will manifest itself in the European single market for data, also known as the European common data space.

!eurogeo2.png Because something big and important is being created in the EU. Digital transformation and data have become geopolitical factors in the past years. The EU is creating its own geopolitical proposition for the role that digitization and data should play in our societies.

That geopolitical proposition is anchored to two objectives.

To at the same time strengthen citizen rights and European values


maximise the socio-economic benefits digital data can bring !eurogeo3.png In order to do that a big legal framework is being created. You will find a full description on the url mentioned at the top right.

Starting from the Digital Compass, which sets targets, and the Digital Rights and Principles which translates rights to the digital environment, 6 laws are being created, next to the 7th that already exists: the GDPR. !eurogeo4.png The Digital Strategy consists of 3 major laws. The first two are the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act. Both are agreed, and will be enforced from the end of this year. They deal with service providers, market dominance and a level playing field. For today they’re less important.

!eurogeo5.png The third part of the Digital Strategy is the AI Regulation and is more relevant to us. It has been proposed in 2021, and negotiations are ongoing. I think it’s an elegant text. Because it connects market access for AI products AND results, to a risk assessment of both the tech involved and the application in question. Higher assessed risks bring mandatory accountability and transparency for all actors, including public registers of such products.

!eurogeo6.png Then there’s the Data Strategy, much more of direct relevance to us today. It too has three legal components.

The first is the Digital Governance Act. It seeks to increase the amount of mostly government data available for re-use and to introduce a governance mechanism for that. It allows the re-use of non-public government data, not falling under access to information rules. Think of statistical microdata. It creates data altruism as mechanism, which makes usage of personal or confidential data possible for research or public interest issues without upfront use cases and for instance consent, parallel to the GDPR.

It introduces the EU Data Space and creates a Data Innovation Board for it that can set general interoperability and data governance rules.

The DGA has been agreed, is in force, and will be fully applicable from September this year.

!eurogeo7.png The second part of the Data Strategy is the Data Act. It looks at data created through the use of products and services, such as IoT, and allows users to give access to third party entities. You can think of this as PSD2 for everything. PSD2 made it possible to access your own banking information as data and provide to a third party, allowing for instance accessing your bank account with the app from another bank, or having an application analyse your spending patterns.

The Data Act makes this possible for the data you create through using a product or service. Think of the data collected by smart devices in your home, the sensors on your solar panels. The data your car already collects but only the dealer or manufacturer currently has access to.

And the EC creates legal space for it to be able to set, create or adopt standards around data generation, sharing and governance. The DA is under negotiation, and may be finalized before the end of the year. !eurogeo8.png The final piece of this framework is the Open Data Directive, which is really two pieces. Like its earlier versions it makes it possible to re-use government held data. It now adds public undertakings into its scope on a voluntary basis. Think electricity networks, harbors, airports, public transport, where these perform public tasks, funded or controlled through government. The Directive entered into force last year.

More importantly it for the very first time makes it mandatory for government data to be published through API in six thematic areas: geo-data, mobility, statistics, company information, meteorology, and earth observation and environment. Together they make up the High Value Data List.

The ODD is a Directive, meaning it is to be transposed into national law. The High Value Data List, like all the other building blocks is a Regulation, and it became law this January, to be implementend by May next year. !eurogeo9.png This is a massive wave of legislation. All these new laws deal with how people, organizations, companies, governments GENERATE and WORK WITH data to create use value and impact.

They provide a range of tools that create a spectrum between open data, and closed data, to cater to a variety of forms of use.

Yesterday we heard about the Danish data hubs, and it would for instance be interesting if the challenges they’ve encountered would be helped with the new tools these laws provide.

Laws don’t implement themselves. Laws are not effective by themselves.

The implementation is the European single market for data, where these laws form the rules for that market. !eurogeo10.png The single market for data, an extension of the free traffic of people capital and goods, is made tangible as the common European data space.

The new laws create many new legal instruments to work with data.

Those new instruments get applied in the common European data space. !eurogeo11.png The term data space may sound mostly technological, but it isn’t. It is a layered construct of infrastructure, governance, legal instruments, professional practices and transactions.

At the bottom is tech, a federated cloud infrastructure.

On top of that is a layer of pan-European data governance principles, interoperability and standards, coming from the Data Innovation Board and its operational arm the DSSC.

The overall data space is approached through SECTORAL data spaces, where existing sectoral governance structures, standards, and professional practices already exist and are integrated into the wider whole. You see some of them mentioned here, not a limitative list though.

On top of that is the actual interaction of sharing and using data. Where usage conditions travel with the data throughout its lifecycle.

It does not end there though. Applications, whether AI or Digital Twins for instance, will depend on the data space for their data inputs and as the place to share their outputs. Indeed DestinE, the Digital Twin of the Earth is explicitly to be built on top of the existence of the Green Deal sectoral data space. !eurogeo12.png The data space, this single market for data, is the technological, governance and working environment that fully surrounds us.

Regardless whether you THINK you are part of the European data space, you ARE indeed part of it

I also think that the increase of data volumes, the complexity of the ecosystem of data sources, technology, stakeholders and infrastructure make it A NECESSITY to EMBRACE this environment. The dataspace is MEANT to help you address those complexities.

Embracing it is necessary for you, because of the role of spatial data.

Spatial data is usually the basis of combining all kinds of different data streams. The linking pin that enables new insights and impact on society. It means spatial data carries a specific responsibility in the dataspace. BUT !eurogeo13.png

BUT that responsibility of spatial data will not be automatically fulfilled, unless you make it so.

Because Three things catch my eye in these EU efforts.

1 Socio-economic impact of data use is the benchmark for success. Expected impact helps determine which data is needed. This implies that you have an understanding of with which data and which stakeholders that impact is achieved. It also means that contributing strong use cases is a way to influence data space development and has normalising effects.

2 Geo information nor government data is a thing in itself in the EU dataspaces. There will NOT be a GI dataspace. Current practices and standards will not automatically carry over into the EU dataspace. Yet, geo-information and government data have an important role to play in almost all sectoral dataspaces. That role has to be actively filled and made visible, to not run the risk of losing visibility.

3 The implementation of the DGA and HVD is upon us. It creates new obligations but also offers choices and opportunities you may want to act on yourself.

These three observations are connected: valuable data use is the determining factor, the way to make yourself relevant and visible, and the compass for shaping the implementation. An active role is needed to not be a follower. Visibility provides influence. Being invisible therefore is the key risk. A few brief remarks on all three observations.

!eurogeo14.png As data holders it’s easy to focus on technology potential. Better resolution, 3d laser scans etc.  Reasoning from the impact of use is a different matter, and generates different questions.

This is a form of mapping that is not about the physical environment, but a mapping of the societal environment and the needs within it.

Understanding stakeholders, and how they are connected to your own goals takes use cases. Those same use cases allow you to take influence on how the sectoral dataspaces will take shape.

!eurogeo15.png Probably your first major entry point into dataspaces with your use cases, is the Green Deal Data Space, that is meant to support achieving the Green Deal policy goals concerning climate adaptation. Becoming a climate neutral continent.

The preparatory actions for the Green Deal Data Space have started last fall and will take about 18 months, until this time next year.

The data that governments are expected to provide in this data space are most of INSPIRE data, as well as environmental data, and the earth observation and environmental services of Copernicus. But spatial data from the private sector and citizens is just as important. It is here that the new legal instruments can come into play. Maybe you want to provide access to non-public government data. Maybe you want to make sure that users of your service adhere to the terms of service automatically. Or maybe you want to allow others to use your data while not sharing your data, through multiparty computing or some other means like bringing their model to your data. The Dataspace is the environment in which you can ensure that, with less need for 1-on-1 contracts and building on the elements that are put in place as legal lego blocks.

Your voice is necessary I think because the consortium doing the preparations for the Green Deal data space to me looks centered on academia and on the raw computing power needed for DestinE, the DT of the earth.

The smaller, more localized building blocks, the things most of us work on everyday are least represented in this consortium. So we need to be louder and get involved as geospatial public sector dataholders. Claim geo’s role wrt use cases, current standards and needed interoperability.

Another point is getting involved with the Data Innovation Board, created under DGA, which will set general data governance rules, which have effect on all sectoral dataspaces. The Data Innovation Board starts in September.

So that the Dataspace is a space we WANT to be in. !eurogeo16.png Just aiming for Compliance is a pitfall I think. The NMCAs involvement in dataspaces isn’t done with INSPIRE and HVDs. This is a mapping of INSPIRE on commonly mentioned architecture components of a dataspace set-up. Blue is INSPIRE, grey the not covered aspects. (The url mentioned leads to our machine translated description of dataspaces)

You see there is overlap, but there are gaps. Gaps in the area of trust, provenance, and clearing. These dimensions are the ones that make a dataspace dynamic. And are the dimensions where the opportunities are for wider valuable use of your data, and for you to reliably access other data, such as from private entities or citizens even, that you would like to use.

These gaps also correspond with other regulations coming your way that are relevant, the Interoperable Europe Act, the e-ID and e-Wallets for instance. These acts, as well as e.g. directive reviews are and will be aligned with the wider legal framework. !eurogeo17.png So. These are the questions and challenges before us, that may colour your discussions here today and beyond this event. How is the common European dataspace helping responsible and valuable geodata usage, how is it helping you? How can you MAKE SURE that it is helping you? How can you help shape it? In terms of technology, standards, regulation, interoperability and above all stakeholder networks of data users. That is geo information’s new frontier.

This is your journey into the European data space. !eurogeo18.png The slides are online on the  URL mentioned. Thank you very much for your time and attention.