Research Center Data Spaces

Data sovereignty as a key feature in the age of digitization

Three questions for Prof. Dr. Boris Otto, Director of the Data Spaces Research Center

Prof. Dr. Boris Otto

What special role does the topic of data spaces and data sovereignty play in the cognitive internet?

The Industrial Data Space returns control to the data owners. Data sovereignty is a key feature in the age of digitalization, and the Industrial Data Space is the technology for it.

What is the position of industry in this field, and how can Fraunhofer support enterprises?

Industry is heading in the right direction. The International Data Spaces Association now has almost 100 members, and Fraunhofer is driving the development of the Industrial Data Space reference architecture model. Industry needs an international standard – and the only way to achieve this is working together.

What are your long-term goals with the Data Spaces Center and its implications for the topic "Cognitive Internet Technologies?" 

At present, the Industrial Data Space initiative is aimed at B2B scenarios of the cognitive internet, as industrial applications form the core of our national economy. We are therefore contributing to the locational advantage in Germany and Europe. But ultimately, the topic of data sovereignty affects us all. Individual citizens must retain sovereignty of their data.

Concepts and technologies for sovereign industrial data exchange

The Data Spaces Research Center of the Fraunhofer CCIT is developing concepts for complex industrial data exchange networking scenarios as well as technologies for data sovereignty in value creation networks. It therefore differs from existing approaches which focus on Cloud computing or personal data. New developments are required for the consistent securing of networked processing chains beyond company boundaries. This applies in particular to access control, which in ad-hoc networks must be configured considerably differently from that in systems in which network nodes are already known in advance. On the other hand, mechanisms are needed to attach usage conditions to data and to enforce these. Through this, the proprietors of the data can themselves determine with whom they exchange data and the way in which trustworthy business partners are permitted to use these data, for what purposes and under which conditions. As a further aspect of industrial data exchange, the Research Center is looking at simplifying data integration as well as the outsourcing of data processing procedures in order to be able to create value from data more efficiently. In this way, the Data Spaces Research Center is addressing the central issues from an information technology perspective regarding the administration of data in business ecosystems.

The Data Spaces Research Center, as part of the Fraunhofer Clusters of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT, focuses on data infrastructure and is therefore the link between physical communication (cf. IOT-COMMS Research Center) and application (cf. Machine Learning Research Center). Here, the work is concentrated on data sovereignty and data economy as the foundation for the data-driven value chain.

Based on the large amount of successful preliminary work carried out by numerous Fraunhofer institutes in the context of the "International Data Spaces" initiative and making Fraunhofer a leading international research entity in the field of data sovereignty and data economy, the Data Spaces Research Center is concentrating on developing a comprehensive and industrially usable implementation of the International Data Spaces reference architecture model.