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11 March 2024

Deploying a European Mobility Data Space

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Late last year, the Digital Europe Coordination and Support action (CSA), a preparatory project to investigate mobility data spaces at a European level, was completed. Similar to other Digital Europe CSAs covering data spaces for domains, the intent was to follow up the (domain-specific) CSA with a deployment project. This project is the deployment action of the EMDS (European Mobility Data Space https://deployemds.eu/). It is now called deployEMDS and was kicked off shortly after the completion of the CSA.

PrepDSpace4Mobility, the official name of the CSA, was intended to lay the groundwork for deployEMDS. It explored and researched existing mobility data spaces (and other mobility data exchanges) throughout Europe. The resulting inventory can be found at Data Ecosystems Inventory - PrepDSpace4Mobility (mobilitydataspace-csa.eu). In addition, a gap analysis was undertaken to identify missing capabilities or features, which was then followed up by a recommendation for mobility data space building blocks – the final report is available at https://mobilitydataspace-csa.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/deliverable-3.1.pdf

So, what is a data space? Fundamentally, a data space is a platform for data exchange between two or more parties (sometimes also including the exchange of algorithms, data services, etc.) and ensures that such an exchange is trusted and secure and guarantees data sovereignty (by using data usage control mechanisms). Such a data space consists of the entire data infrastructure that is required and supports capabilities such as data discoverability, identity management, etc., thereby allowing commercial exchange of closed (and sensitive) data. Major implementations of such infrastructure are Gaia-X (Home - Gaia-X: A Federated Secure Data Infrastructure) and the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA, Home - International Data Spaces) implementation. The data space infrastructure is domain-independent and is used as a (common) basis for a domain-dependent data space – a mobility data space is such a domain-dependent data space (for an operational mobility data space, see Mobility Data Space - Mobility Data Space – Data Sharing Community (mobility-dataspace.eu).

The three year deployEMDS project falls under the Digital Europe Programme and is funded by the European Commission (EC). The participants in this project include nine cities around Europe (Barcelona, Budapest, Flanders, Île-de-France, Lisbon, Milan, Sofia, Stockholm, and Tampere), each of which has identified concrete mobility use cases that are locally relevant and required – 17 use cases in total, aiming to lay the groundwork for an interoperable as well as secure and trusted EMDS. The primary focus of the deployEMDS project is to pave the way toward the realization of a common European mobility data space as one of the sectoral data spaces to be developed as part of the broader European ambition.

The initiative will cultivate a broad European ecosystem of data providers and users, facilitating the adoption of common building blocks. The work planned in the framework of the project’s use cases will contribute to the development of innovative services and applications which will ultimately promote sustainable alternatives across different modes of transportation.

While the data space-enabled data exchange is planned to be used locally (i.e., a local or regional mobility data space), the intent is also to demonstrate a European-level mobility data space, i.e., data exchange internationally across all of Europe. These actual deployments, coming from such diverse locations, each with its own challenges and needs, and eventually “networked” through the EMDS, will demonstrate the benefits of an EMDS in the growing data economy.

What does it mean concretely? As described below, one of the Budapest use cases focuses on mobility services for disabled persons. The corresponding mobility data and derived knowledge and experience will be of interest to other cities. The EMDS will enable the straightforward exchange of this information – an app developer in France, for example, will be able to leverage and develop a similar service. The data space infrastructure will ensure (or enforce) privacy regulations (e.g., identity management, consent management), commercial terms, if necessary (e.g., contract management), etc.

While the actual deployment of these use cases is a central theme of the project, meant to drive further development and adoption across Europe, the EMDS technical specifications, architecture, interoperability testing, etc., are being developed in parallel in close coordination with the deployment pilot sites. The governance associated with the EMDS is also being specified as are business and operations models. Many of these aspects can leverage the work done as part of the CSA and other related EC-funded projects (e.g., SIMPL: Streamlining cloud-to-edge federations for major EU data spaces | Shaping Europe’s digital future (europa.eu)).

To gain insights into the practical aspects, the following continues with the Budapest pilot (mentioned earlier) and presents the two planned use cases and the involved (local) parties.

One of the key implementations of a local EMDS will take place in Budapest, Hungary. The local plans include two separate use cases. One of them considers the inclusion of carsharing and micro-mobility service providers’ real-time vehicle information into the city’s most popular public transportation route planner app called BudapestGO. The second use case, however, revolves around the implementation of a service that offers possibilities to persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility to use public transportation services and thus practice their right to mobility – or Mobility as a Right (MaaR). The Budapest pilot implementation efforts are led by the Urban Institute Hungary (UIH).

The first use-case, titled Multimodal connectivity and route planning integration with BudapestGO, includes UIH as the implementation partner and the Budapest Transport Authority (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, BKK) as the developers and operators of BudapestGO. The envisioned extended route planning application relies heavily on the real-time data offered by service providers, such as carsharing, bicycle-sharing, and e-scooter-sharing operators. Given the actual and expected location and availability of their respective vehicles and equipment, an optimised planned route can be provided for users that offers an effective solution to the first and last-mile problem. The use case also implements the incorporation of individual user preferences and a complex prediction algorithm for modelling shared equipment availability.

The second use-case of the Budapest pilot is called MaaRLIM – Mobility aa Right for people with MobiLity IMpairment. It is mainly implemented by UIH with significant input provided by the Urban Software Institute (USI) and through indispensable cooperation with BKK. The concept behind this service rests on the collaboration efforts of public transportation service providers, a dispatcher centre, and a well-organized network of volunteers. Their data, complete with the list of persons eligible for the use of this service comprise the MaaRLIM registry. As the MaaR concept realised in the envisioned way assumes trust between partakers, the robust implementation of such a service requires processing and retention of sensitive data. Consequently, during the implementation and operation of this use case, profound emphasis will be placed on data security and GDPR compliance. Integrating this service – and the Data Product Offering thereof – into the resulting EMDS will be performed with necessary precautions and data minimisation as a principle.

In summary, deployEMDS is the first step for the deployment of a Europe-wide mobility data space with specific use cases driven by the real needs and requirements of cities in Europe. The outcomes, which are technical, governance, commercial-related, etc., will drive future developments and provide lessons learned.

 

Author: Dr. Gadi Lenz, Urban Software Institute; Dr. Mátyás Szántó, UI Hungary