Navigating the challenges of creating a data space

Author: Tarek Zaarour

A starter kit from the Data Spaces Support Centre

The European Data Strategy is an ambitious plan to create a strong and innovative data ecosystem and economy in Europe. One key component of this strategy is the development of common European data spaces in strategic economic sectors and domains.

But what exactly is a data space? Simply put, it’s a framework that supports data sharing within a data ecosystem. It provides a clear structure for participants to share, trade, and collaborate on data assets in a way that is compliant with relevant laws and regulations and ensures fair treatment for all involved.

In business, data spaces enable the trusted and secure sharing of commercial data assets with automated controls on legal compliance and remuneration. This can create a market among participants or facilitate collaboration among diverse, interconnected parties who rely on each other for mutual benefit. Personal data spaces, on the other hand, allow data subjects and holders to control their data and its subsequent use, ensuring that legislation surrounding the handling of personal data is followed.

The challenges of building data spaces

Creating a successful data space is no small feat. There are a multitude of challenges that organizations must navigate in order to build and maintain a Data Space that meets the needs of all stakeholders. These challenges can be grouped into five broad categories: business, legal, operational, functional, and technical.

Business challenges include defining the business model for the data space; identifying potential partners and participants, and determining the most appropriate monetization strategies.

Legal challenges may involve navigating complex regulatory environments, establishing clear terms of use and governance frameworks, and ensuring compliance with data protection laws.

Operational challenges may include defining roles and responsibilities within the data space, developing processes for data management and governance, and establishing protocols for data access and use.

Functional challenges may include defining the types of data that will be shared within the data space, establishing standards and protocols for data interoperability, and ensuring data quality.

Technical challenges may involve selecting and implementing appropriate technologies and infrastructure to support the data space, establishing security and privacy controls, and developing and implementing automation and control mechanisms.

By overcoming these hurdles and addressing each of these challenges, organizations can create a successful data space that meets the needs of all stakeholders and supports the growth of the European data ecosystem and economy.

A starter kit for data spaces

Organizations looking to develop data spaces can turn to the Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC) for guidance. The DSSC has created a starter kit to help organizations navigate the complexities of creating data spaces and ensure their success.

The starter kit can be seen as an entry point to navigate the various supports provided by the DSSC for the data space community. The highlight of this iteration is a resource inventory that provides an overview of various state-of-the-art and state-of-practice resources available to organizations interested in creating or participating in data spaces. The resource inventories are intended to be inclusive, meaning that they aim to showcase the wide range of work that is being done in this area. However, the inclusion of a resource in the inventory does not imply an official endorsement from the Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC). The resource inventories will be updated over time, with resources being added and removed as appropriate.

Overall, the European data strategy and the development of data spaces within it is an exciting and important effort to create a thriving data ecosystem and economy in Europe. By addressing the challenges and utilizing the resources available, organizations can play a crucial role in driving this progress forward.