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Who owns the data to be shared?

Sharing data, and thus being able to work data-driven, requires the right technology. But something just as important is knowing who owns the data and who has the right to do what with it, along with how collaboration involving the data should be structured. In other words, soft infrastructure is just as important as hard infrastructure.

Anyone who has sat in a cramped conference room on a sunny spring afternoon knows just how tired you can get before it’s time for the 3pm coffee break. And everyone knows how good it is to get outside, stretch your legs and finally get some fresh air.

– “The main problem is carbon dioxide in exhaled air,” says Claus Popp Larsen, Head of the Connected Cities focus area at RISE.

– “After a while the concentration in the room will become too high and then we humans perform worse mentally and make poorer decisions.”

Researchers at RISE wanted to do something about this, so they decided to, among other things, visualise the problem by using data from their own meeting rooms. They approached their landlord and asked for permission to access the data from the sensors connected to the building’s air conditioning, something the landlord found interesting and promised to investigate.

– “Then they came back to us and said no.”

Lacked data usage rights

It turned out that, according to the contract, the data collected belonged to the supplier who had installed the air conditioning. In other words, neither the landlord, who actually owns the property, nor the tenant, who pays for and uses the meeting rooms, was entitled to the data generated by the business.

– “This may seem like a trivial example, but it is a very common problem, including in municipalities,” says Popp Larsen. “They want to work more data-driven and use sensors, but they forget to revise the business model that governs who owns the data and how it can be shared. And thus it becomes futile to try offer services based on it.”

There is an abundance of data

Ownership issue important for data sharing

The issue concerning ownership is something that RISE has placed considerable emphasis on within the City as a Platform project, the aim of which is to enable municipalities, through a structured framework, to share data within a city and move data-driven services between cities.

– “Step one is that municipal clients must be aware of the problem, and step two is to set appropriate requirements in procurement to ensure that the municipality truly owns and has the right to use the data collected by suppliers in their systems,” explains Popp Larsen. “If you try to figure this out this afterwards, it’s virtually guaranteed that you will have to pay extra, if it’s even possible.”

Åsa Jadelius is a digitalisation strategist at Sundsvall Municipality and one of the individuals participating in City as a Platform.

– “There is an abundance of data, but both we municipalities and our suppliers need to find business models that allow us to take it all the way from sensors to actually creating value for the business. And this means we need to start talking more to each other so that it becomes clear who is responsible for what.”

Value chain and business model for data

Jadelius uses the municipality’s lifebuoys as an example. An employee of Sundsvall Municipality drives around every Friday and checks that all the buoys are in place. But if the buoys were equipped with a sensor, it would be possible to check at any time that the buoys are where they should be, which would save both time and money while also increasing safety since it would become immediately apparent if a buoy disappeared.

– “But for manufacturers of the buoy and their stands, their core skills may not be to generate data and create apps. And that’s not our core business either. So the question is: how should this value chain and business model for the data be structured?

As a municipality, we need to learn more about what we want and we must cultivate an ability to implement those requirements

Responsibility a convergence point

According to Jadelius, it is precisely this discussion about interfaces – who should be responsible for what – that is at a major point of convergence right now:

– “It means that, as a municipality, we need to learn more about what we want and we must cultivate an ability to implement those requirements. At the same time, there are 290 municipalities in Sweden and, without coordination, there will easily be 290 different requirements, which would create a hopeless situation for the suppliers.”

Jadelius therefore believes that projects such as City as a Platform, through which municipalities can jointly establish more uniform requirements, are crucial to swiftly finding business models that can properly support the municipality’s activities:

– “I’m really looking forward to additional similar initiatives, because being able to jointly identify opportunities to both refine requirements and develop customer competence is invaluable in this area.”

Published: 2021-06-11
Claus Popp Larsen

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Claus Popp Larsen

Fokusområdesledare för Uppkopplade städer

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