The EU has long attempted to regulate how industrial data can be shared and used to innovate for the better. In the past years we have seen an explosion of legislation and projects pursuing this dream. From the publication of the EU Data Strategy and the Data Governance Act or the launching of Gaia-X and a variety of upcoming sectoral data spaces there is a whirlwind of policy that one needs to keep track of to stay abreast. But that could all change…
It is rightly pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about massive societal and economical shifts in how our societies function, furthermore exposing our deep reliance on digital infrastructure to conduct our daily lives. The surge in cyberattacks only highlights how precarious the foundations of our digital architecture are. As a result, we are witnessing a historic period for the tech industry as a whole. Competition is increasingly becoming a point of friction as governments worldwide are waking up to the realities that exist in the digital market.
It is amidst this backdrop that another milestone has been achieved by the European Commission. That is the launch of the European Alliance for Industrial Data and Cloud. An initiative that aims at further crystallising the ambitions set out in the EU’s Data Strategy when it comes to how Europe can boost its own cloud capacity.
- CloudFerro is excited to be among the first participants of this initiative and we are eager to share our expertise, resources, and enthusiasm to build a strong, competitive, and resilient European data and cloud service. As a truly European company, we at CloudFerro are very pleased to see the Commission launch the European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud. This is the next step forward for the EU’s plans to be competitive and spur innovation across sectors while aspiring to build European digital sovereignty – says Maciej Krzyżanowski, CEO of CloudFerro.
Unblocking the Cloud Market with the Data Act
The publication of the Data Act provides a much-needed legislative push for the cloud sector to unlock Europe’s full competitiveness. As the file now falls under the responsibility of the Council and Parliament, it will be paramount that the political aspirations of the Data Act are not watered down and a strong emphasis on fairness and interoperability is maintained. We can only encourage the Commission to stand by its objectives and defend these principles during the negotiations of the co-legislatures.
Hearkening back to the Council of the European Union’s October 2020 declaration on cloud we can only echo that a common approach is needed in order to build Europe’s cloud supply, reinforce European digital sovereignty and increase competition.
The Alliance states in its declaration that one of its objectives is to provide support for defining common norms and requirements for cloud. We hope that amongst the Alliance we will be able to assist in providing the needed rationale and argumentation so such measures as interoperability and switching are encouraged and maintained among the wider cloud agenda and that policymakers do not lose sight of the bigger picture.
Fostering Common European Data Spaces and Norms
Integral to that bigger picture of a European sovereign cloud ecosystem, we see data governance as critical. While in December both European Parliament and Council concluded their trilogue negotiations on the Data Governance Act, it will take time for the effects of this Act to be fully realised. What we know though is that, while the Act was reportedly ‘unloved’, it plays such a fundamental role in shaping the future framework for launching Europe into the era of cloud, that being the Common European Data Spaces. Only with the technical support of the cloud industry will these Common European Data Spaces manifest and be brought to scale in such a way that makes them viable.
It is our aim that the Alliance takes the lead among the variety of stakeholder formats in the conversation about cloud and data. Especially on operationalising the Alliance’s goal of creating a platform that can synergise with the Common European Data Spaces. Indeed the Alliance declaration notes how important close coordination will be on this topic with the European Data Innovation Board, which is established under the Data Governance Act.
But governance is only one piece of the puzzle, as with many great projects, this will take funding and investments. The format of the Alliance has the potential to open up so many sectors to each other and bring new investment opportunities to the forefront.
Earth Observation Data – a Call for Common European Data Spaces
Europe has a plethora of private and public organisations that can serve as a source for wealthy datasets. For example, at CloudFerro we work with the European Space Agency and the European Commission under the remit of the Copernicus program to provide our CREODIAS platform - which allows open, free and easy access to Earth Observation Data and its processing in the cloud. CREODIAS cloud services are sovereign and are based on open source technology. The platform allows third-parties to create their own applications and services to fit their needs and share them for the benefit of others.
Using our platform allows for a wide application of Earth Observation Data collected from the Copernicus satellites and other sources. What our platform is able to do is render and provide these images tailored to a variety of needs, together with an integrated cloud computing services to process this data. Need to monitor crop yield? How about water consumption? Or what about observing the changes in ice along the Alps? We have the possibility to analyse that, but what Europe needs now is an effective way to help synergize this analysis.
Our work with Copernicus has taught us that a rapid and effective set up of Common European Data Spaces – an ecosystem of public and private organisations, standards and technologies that enable shared value creation via the exchange of data and data-driven solutions – is key to exchanging data effortlessly between economic actors and creating value.
We would encourage you to see the results of our competition #SeizeTheBeautyOfOurPlanet - the incredible Earth Observation imagery demonstrating climate change, its negative effects on our planet, and the need to counteract them together.
At CloudFerro our expertise lies in providing specialized cloud services and in storing, indexing, delivering and processing big data volumes. Our key specialty is in Earth Observation and other specialised domains such as meteorology and climate data. The wide range of specialised data needs our customers have means we as CloudFerro see Europe’s opportunity to provide a new way of cloud services, capitalising on the yet untouched realm of industrial data. The promise of Common European Data Spaces is close to becoming a reality, but it will take political courage and ambition to see it done.
As members of the Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud, we wholeheartedly call for more action and more participation on behalf of all cloud services so that Europe can develop its digital sovereignty in a way that is grounded and fair.