Smartphones on wheels? Giving back control to users is key to ethical data usage and acceptance in smart mobility ecosystems

deltaDAO Team
8 min readAug 26, 2022

Why future mobility needs Data-Sovereignty through Self-Sovereign Identities (SSI), Compute-to-Data (CtD), and Open-Source Software.

Copyright: CC0 — RoadLight

Introduction

· As companies shift from big data to small and wide data, SSI and Compute-to-Data become a new paradigm for how we interact with our digital world as ethical data usage is becoming a major concern.

· SSI and Compute-to-Data share core principles like selective disclosure, data minimization and giving control back to the owner.

· The future of mobility will be defined by a more secure, open architecture that enables greater privacy and technical ownership of data.

· This vision is the result of the convergence between the concepts of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) and Compute-to-Data (CtD).

These sovereignty technologies come at the right time to get back in control of our digital world and to regain and foster trust. Without trust and data sovereignty, the mobility ecosystem will not be sustainable.

A secure and simple digital identity can make mobility safer.

In the mobility sector, a secure and simple digital identity will be a game changer for users and developers. It will allow users, infrastructure owners and fleet owners (data subjects and data owners) to control their data in a way that was previously impossible, while also allowing developers to create better services by leveraging user data as an asset. The benefits of this approach are clear:

· Users can choose which services they want to share their data with, balancing privacy with access to useful information. This will increase their willingness to share valuable information while simultaneously allowing them to participate in the exploitation of the data for their own benefit.

· Developers can collect accurate and usable information when needed without worrying about security or privacy issues associated with storing all of it centrally on one platform (or even in multiple places). So, there can be a focus on adding new features and improving a product and develop new products while knowing that it will be easy to monetize their efforts effectively down the road.

Self-Sovereign Identity and Compute-to-Data are key to control information in the digital age.

· SSI and Compute-to-Data are vital for protecting people from the negative impacts of digitalization as both are ways to regain control over personal data and sensitive information.

· SSI and Compute-to-Data are built on the “need to know” and “selective disclosure” principles as they both enable technical control over the data stream and require consent for data usage.

· SSI and Compute-to-Data prevent data dominance, a scenario where one entity has access to all information about suppliers, partners, customers, or citizens.

SSI and Compute-to-Data prevent data centralization, which is an attractive target for malicious actors and causes harm to the users who suffer from such breaches of privacy/security due to negligence on behalf of service providers themselves or 3rd parties who may have access through collusion/malicious intent (e.g., hackers).

SSI and Compute-to-Data share core principles

1. Control — Users must be enabled to control their data. Control differs from just stating what data is associated with a user or what can be done with it.

2. Access — Users must be able to access their own data without the interference of gatekeepers or intermediaries.

3. Transparency — data, algorithms and infrastructures used must be transparent. In tandem with the previous principle, transparency ensures that users can monitor any potential mismanagement of their identity or data.

4. Portability — users alone should decide where to store and use their data, under their terms and conditions or terms and conditions they explicitly accepted.

5. Interoperability — Users can make use of their identity and data as wide as possible without restrictions by a third party.

6. Consent — Data shall be shared only given explicit consent.

7. Minimization — The disclosure of data shall be limited by implementing selective disclosure, zero-knowledge techniques, and privacy-enhancing technology.

8. Protection — The users’ rights on their data, intellectual property and economic usage rights need to be respected.

These principles can be found in both SSI and Compute-to-Data, where both go beyond the ability of “data sharing” or “data connectors” because they explicitly address data ethics.

Principle of Compute-to-Data, Copyright: CC-BY-4.0, deltaDAO AG, delta-dao.com

Providing interoperable infrastructure for Self-Sovereign Identity and mobility services will be crucial

Interoperability is an essential aspect of any future mobility solution. Open standards will be needed to ensure that different systems can connect. Open-source software is needed to allow for innovation on top of the base platform. Interoperability will also make it easier for organizations that want to participate in the value creation process by investing in their own software or hardware solutions without locking themselves out of the standardized ecosystem.

The ability for multiple parties to come together and collaborate through a shared infrastructure is an essential component of this vision. Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) such as blockchain can provide this kind of interoperable infrastructure while providing a neutral ground without a single point of failure or control. DLT enables autonomous vehicles exchanging data about traffic conditions or charging stations selling electricity at discounted prices. Further, it facilitates value transfers between organizations who need services from one another but do not necessarily trust each other yet.

Stakeholders should focus on value creation instead of data dominance

Data has unique properties that make it different from all other types of assets: it becomes more valuable the more it is used. Trust and data ethics form the fundament for this, unlocking the willingness and ability to sustainably share data to the extent needed to truly leverage this unique resource.

The unique properties of data create a strong incentive for stakeholders to create an ecosystem around data use (and not ownership).

Of course, data, like oil, is a source of power. And those who control it (think of Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, or Google) are establishing themselves as masters in the universe, just as oil barons did 100 years ago.

In fact, if we are going to think about data as a power source or fuel, then it would make more sense to consider its similarities with renewable sources like the sun, wind, and tides. There is an abundance of it — more than we can ever use — and rather than fencing it off and reducing the supply, we should think about how we can make it more widely available to everyone.

Unregulated data mining causes a whole diverse set of problems — privacy issues as well as the imbalance of power which is caused by information being in the hands of the few, rather than the many. Treating or thinking about data like oil only serves to encourage this dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots in the digital age.

Self-Sovereign Identity and Compute-to-Data will protect people from the negative impacts of digitalization by enabling them to retain control over their own data.

SSI is a digital identity that is not controlled, but enhanced by existing authorities, as opposed to established identity frameworks such as government IDs or social media accounts that are not under the user’s control. Both concepts allow users to manage their information in a decentralized manner and make the most out of it.

SSI and Compute-to-Data can be used for access management, authorization and other functions required by enterprises and governments when managing substantial amounts of sensitive data that belongs in the hands of individuals rather than institutions or companies.

Compute-to-Data will enhance the concept of Self-Sovereign Identity of big data and machine learning applications

The ability to process, manage and monetize our personal data has been a catalyst for many exciting innovations in modern life. However, along with the benefits come risks such as privacy breaches, identity theft and inappropriate use of personal information by governments or corporations. Compute-to-Data will help people protect themselves from these negative impacts by enabling them to retain control over their own data.

This is because Compute-to-Data allows technical data sovereignty: the technology is designed so that it can be used without revealing any personal details about you other than what you want others to know about you or your business and company secrets (e.g., sensitive customer information, production data, machine data).

This is what is needed to transform mobility towards sustainable and inclusive mobility at scale as it enables trust and acceptance of all users.

With Compute-to-Edge data sovereignty will be further expanded and the Cloud-to-Edge continuum will be more secure.

You have seen the statistics: Gartner predicts that data volumes will reach 44 zettabytes by 2025, an increase of over a thousand times compared to 2017. Furthermore, Gartner says 70% of organizations will shift their focus from big to small and wide data by 2025.

These numbers are relevant not only for enterprises but also for startups and small businesses that want to profit from their own data and the data they get from their customers.

The concept of “data sovereignty” has become increasingly important in recent years since more and more people have access to smartphones and tablets through which they can make purchases online at any time. This now extends into every corner of connected vehicles and smart mobility. In addition, companies need access to high-quality analytics software so that they can improve customer satisfaction and increase safety while reducing costs at the same time. This combination means an increasing demand for quality software applications based on open-source technology — because no one wants to spend money unnecessarily.

Conclusion

The future of mobility is about Self-Sovereign Identity, technical data sovereignty and sustainable, ethical use of data. It will empower people to retain control over their own data and make mobility safer, more convenient, and more efficient for everybody.

Data is a new form of renewable energy that can power a new economy and sustainable future mobility ecosystems. It is abundant, under-utilized and can be made available for everybody. You do not need to send it down the data lake for others to profit from it. Recent technologies enable everybody to participate in value creation.

The key to this vision is Compute-to-Data and SSI on DLT infrastructure for transparency, control, and interoperability purposes. And these are the leading principles of our Minimal Viable Gaia-X.

Source: https://portal.minimal-gaia-x.eu/

For this vision to become a reality, we need to provide open-source software that developers worldwide can use. Open standards are important to create autonomous ecosystems where innovation thrives while protecting users from negative impacts caused by big data application development.

Together with our partners, we are on the right road towards sustainable mobility powered by ethical data usage, SSI, and Compute-to-Data.

If you are interested in how we apply the latest technologies to co-create open, decentralized and privacy-preserving ecosystems for your use case, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

About deltaDAO

deltaDAO AG is a software development, integration and consulting company based in Hamburg, Germany. Founded in 2021 our focus is to enable a transparent, secure, and decentralized data economy in which large enterprises, SMEs and public institutions can keep full technical control over their data. As specialists for distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and smart contracts, we are engaged in the Gaia-X community, working groups and lighthouse projects and provided the first Minimal Viable Gaia-X (https://minimal-gaia-x.eu/) in 2021, based on open-source software and Web 3.0 components.

deltaDAO — data economy solutions. GDPR compliant.

https://www.delta-dao.com/

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