Collaborative Data Use: Neutral Data Spaces, Scaling Ecosystems and Business Cases Are a Must for the Mobility Industry

Sharing and securely storing data is a must in the mobility industry – this was the consensus of the participants and speakers at the webinar jointly organised by the eco Association’s Mobility CG and Car Repair 4.0. How to ensure trust in data trading and linking data from different sources, how digital standard units and infrastructures have changed and what legal framework is needed for collaborative data use.

Collecting, analysing and processing data in real time is now a reality in the mobility industry. Traffic analysis, forecasts and simulations make it possible to save time, money and energy. Just as in the mobility industry, companies, consumers and the environment will benefit from data sharing in the future with Car Repair 4.0. Why more movement is needed in the mobility industry despite advancing digitalisation, which political and legal frameworks should be out in place and what role trusted architectures such as Gaia-X play in this – these were the questions posed by the webinar participants.

Requirements for data spaces and collaborative data use

“Data sharing first requires an infrastructure to make data usable and to exchange it between different actors in a secure and trustworthy way,” said speaker Dr Judith Puttkammer, Senior Manager Strategic Projects at acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering in the field of Mobility Data Space (MDS). The MDS has demonstrated this approach as the first operational mobility data space in the European Union and as a Gaia-X flagship project. Mobility-relevant data can be offered, found via a catalogue, and purchased in the marketplace. “We are trying to break down data silos and promote the linking of mobility data from different areas,” said Puttkammer. Descriptions of data sets are not stored centrally, but are located in a metadata catalogue. Data will, therefore, always remain with its owner –a key principle of data sovereignty.

Trust is central to data trading

The data marketplace – where partners in the mobility sector and beyond can exchange data in a self-determined manner – is based on “Trusted Identities”. These verified identities ensure trust in the community. At MDS, they are verified by a standardised process and tamper-proof data transfer via certified connectors. In addition to the technical infrastructure, the MDS also offers added value to the community. The data available and searched for is displayed transparently. If there is interest, MDS helps the participants in the data marketplace to network. This also applies to the subsequent planning and implementation of a use case. Interconnection – in the sense of interoperability – also takes place with other data spaces and platforms as well as across sectors.


Car repair shops must move with the times

In his presentation, Michael Hofmann, Managing Director of the cdmm GmbH and supplier for data management, looked at why the digital standard units and infrastructures have changed and how the skilled crafts sector has to adapt to these new framework conditions.  “The task of data in the car repair sector is to make the old, traditional world in paper form available in the new, digital world,” Hofmann said. It is important for car repair shops to have access to knowledge and information, especially when diagnosing errors in increasingly complex vehicles.

New conditions for the craft sector

“With e-mobility on the rise, repair, vehicle construction and information management have changed completely,” says Hofmann. Car Repair 4.0 has found an approach to understanding vehicles, diagnostics and data through oscilloscope measurements – and ultimately not just replacing components and presenting the customer with a fat bill, says the data expert. The digitalisation of car repair shops and crafts in general is progressing: In the working environment, with smart equipment, industry standards, product passports with QR codes and devices. “This requires structured data in data rooms in order to share it there,” Hofmann said. A step in the right direction: With the “Global Standards” 2019 and the “QI-Digital”, the Quality Infrastructure, last year, a scientific and legal basis was created to enable digital exchange processes in a unified way.

Legal framework for data sharing

Stefan Hessel, lawyer of the Reusch Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH also dealt with framework conditions in his keynote speech. He asked “Who gets the finder’s fee for the ‘data treasure’ – and what legal framework is required for collaborative data use?”. This is a difficult task because data sharing is a complex issue that is shaped by many relevant areas of law. And because so-called traditional law – such as that of contract and property law – does not yet sufficiently take into account digital innovations for collaborative data use. “It is important to note that there is no ownership of data. When data is exchanged and bought, it is legally different from buying an apple on the market,” said Hessel. Because in this example, property is transferred.

Traditional law only partially regulates data handling

However, there is a database right which protects the creator of a database who has made a substantial investment in protecting the data. This is where copyright helps as an intellectual property right. If this investment is not made, there is, for example, a catch-all provision in the German Trade Secrets Act. In this way, data can be commercially protected under traditional law and regulated by contractual arrangements, such as data licensing agreements. In practice, this means: Do not give anyone access to the data and exclude access using the Trade Secrets Act. The second step is to use contract law to license the use of the data. It is important to regulate who receives the finder’s fee when a “data treasure” is found. This is done through a remuneration model that defines the period and conditions of use.

Data protection law applies to personal data

Data protection law applies wherever there is collaborative data use of personal data, for example, the vehicle identification number or the registration number. The planned Data Act is intended to define the economic use of data at EU level. The new regulation is significant for anyone who processes data: For example, the B2B and B2C exchange of IoT data, interoperability and protection against misuse of data for SMEs will be regulated.

Data is the future

In the final panel discussion, everyone agreed that the release and sharing of data in the mobility industry is inevitable: Whether it is predictive maintenance to avoid a breakdown on the motorway or the ability to automatically schedule annual tyre changes. Sharing and connecting data enables new organisational structures, applications and mobility services. From an economic perspective, the potential for cost savings and efficiency gains is enormous. By 2025, the data economy in the EU will be worth around €830 billion. Michael Hofmann: “The use of data will be a craft in the future. That’s why it’s important that everyone can handle and understand data”.

Creating a culture of data sharing together

“However, we are still at the very beginning,” urges Dr Judith Puttkammer, “companies, organisations and public authorities are still reluctant to make their data available. A culture of data sharing must emerge.” Politicians, business and civil society are urged to take the remaining concerns seriously and find solutions together. Gaia-X is as important as a common transport network – with common rules and participants who are able to move safely. The initiative creates not only comparable but standardised infrastructures that can change the way data is handled from the ground up. Data spaces that are newly created in the EU can be oriented towards Gaia-X in the future.


Members of eco – Association of the Internet Industry can download the recording of the (German-language) webinar “Why data sharing and secure storage are a must for the mobility industry” in the Members+ area.


This article was first published in the “Car Repair 4.0” blog; author Ralf Schädel.

Collaborative Data Use: Neutral Data Spaces, Scaling Ecosystems and Business Cases Are a Must for the Mobility Industry