The European Data Act (EDA) is here, and it will impact companies and industries beyond expectations.
On June 27th, the European Parliament and member states reached an agreement on the EDA, building upon the European Commission's proposal from 2022. According to this agreement, all data collected through various devices such as cars, smart fridges, watches, coffee machines, industrial machinery and so on must be made available to other companies than the device producer. This access depends on the consent and choice of the device owner. "Consumers will have the right to access all of this data, free of charge and in real-time," Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager explained.
Everyday use cases we can all benefit from
For instance, consider my Volvo car, which collects extensive data about its status and shares it with the Volvo HQ and my recognized Volvo dealer. Under the new regulation, if I wish to provide this data with another independent garage, Volvo needs to share all relevant information about my vehicle with the new service provider.
This obligation also applies to various other devices like my LG fridge, Honeywell heating gauge, Samsung TV, and Apple Watch. It even extends to industrial machinery. Each device must make its data available, enabling owners to seek services like repairs and analyses from other parties.
Consequently, a Digital Twin will exist for every data-collecting device, and the device owner must be able to share it with third parties of their choice.
How Solid can prevent a jungle of API’s
While some devices already share data through existing APIs, the EDA introduces a Europe-wide obligation for manufacturers to provide these interfaces. To prevent each manufacturer from creating proprietary APIs and data sets that could hinder real data utilisation, it is essential to use common protocols.
Based on our experience and various proof of concepts, we firmly believe that the most suitable protocol to use is Solid. Solid is a protocol developed by Tim Berners-Lee that allows the sharing of all types of data with the user's consent. It is renowned for managing personal data effectively and works equally well for device-generated data.
The benefits of Solid and data POD’s
As a decentralised system, any database can serve as a data vault controlled by the device owner, allowing them to share data based on standard Access Control. Existing databases become Personal Online Datastores (POD’s), and end-users are identified by a WebID identifier, granting them control over the parts of the POD that can be shared with other WebIDs (users, organisations, or applications).
Additionally, we believe that using standard protocols will address the most significant counter-argument against the EDA: the protection of industry secrets. By mandating non-proprietary APIs and data set structures, the regulation will prevent industries from concealing essential details about their devices' functionalities and internal workings.
Successful Solid use cases
Recent PoC’s on Solid, that we did with the European Commission, have demonstrated its potential. For example, a Digital Twin of an Electric Vehicle was created, allowing re-use of electricity consumption data. To learn more, follow the online course by the European Commission on IoT and the Digital Twin based on Solid.
The Dutch Digital Heritage Network, in the Netherlands, is another compelling example. This organisation facilitates cooperation between different institutions to build a unified digital infrastructure for storing, managing, and providing access to cultural heritage collections. Through Solid technology, they are digitising cultural artefacts, documents, artworks, and other forms of heritage, making their catalogue available to the public, researchers, and scholars within the Netherlands and internationally.
Interested to learn more about Solid and how it can facilitate compliance with the European Data Act? Feel free to contact use.id, and we’ll be happy to share further insights and experiences.
This blog was written by Regis Verschueren.