The first marketplace for IoT data

Within the SynchroniCity Internet of Things Large-Scale Pilot (IoT LSP), the participating partners are working on exciting innovative solutions. One of these solutions is the SynchroniCity IoT Data Marketplace. At the ICT 2018 event in Vienna, we met with Alex Gluhak to find out why theSynchroniCity Marketplace is different from other offers.

Alex, you are a working at the Digital Catapult. What is your role there?

In my role as Head of Technology at the Digital Catapult – a UK agency to drive the early adoption of advanced digital technologies – I’m behind many concepts in this field and one of these concepts that have now turned into reality is the IoT Data Marketplace that our team at the Catapult have built.

There is a myriad of different marketplace offers for data out there. Why create a new one?

The SynchroniCity marketplace is the first attempt to create a public marketplace for IoT Data and to make various data sources in the cities available. It is a one-stop-shop for all the data created by IoT device sin a city to manage urban data: Data providers can define licenses for the use and data users have the piece of mind of service level agreements that are safely stored on a distributed ledger. There is no need for time-consuming bilateral negotiation of terms for access and business use of data. And most importantly, all data is presented in a harmonised way from various data sources. This combination is what makes it unique.

You mentioned licensing: Why are licences important?

Typically, businesses need a clear legal basis to exploit data and create new digital services for citizens on top of it. Open data is good, but end-users need confidence that data will be available and regularly updated, that the provider won’t pull out of the agreement all of a sudden, just to name a few issues that regularly come up with open data. This creates ambiguity and hampers innovation in the end. You can’t build a business on dependency.

So how does the SynchroniCity IoT Data marketplace help solving this issue of insecurity?

This is where the licences come in. With the marketplace we’ve created an environment that allows you – as data provider- to create and track data licenses agreed with data users. While a lot of urban data is free for any type of use, there might also be private sector data that can be useful. But these data cannot be shared freely. The IoT Data Marketplace – thanks to the licensing – allows also to offer private sector data or to monetise data depending on concrete terms defined by the data provider. One example is that students can use data for free for their research, but big corporates would need to pay a fee for data usage. The user then agrees and all service level agreements are stored on the blockchain and tracked to settle potential disputes in the future. This environment creates trust among all stakeholders of the marketplace.

How did you go about creating this marketplace. Did you and your team completely start from scratch?

No, by far not. We conducted a thorough analysis of the current market and offers already available (see Deliverable2.4) and decided to base the IoT data marketplace on generic FIWARE enablers, which are already supported by TM Forum Open APIs. We took the building blocks from FIWARE and adapted it to the needs as described earlier: We’ve added several trust layers – from licensing to the blockchain storage of SLAs and access control to data.

Why did you choose the FIWARE ecosystem?

Given that the SynchroniCity reference architecture is based on the FIWARE NGSI API, which will be the baseline for the upcoming ETSI NGSI LD standard, this was the natural way to go forward. The cities provide all data in compliant to NGSI-LD and the marketplace is now an easy tool to share harmonised data from eight European cities. The open source nature of the building blocks makes it a cost-effective entry point for many cities to setup an urban data platform – as they have the choice to host it themselves or entrust a third party to do for them without lock-in. In the end, what counts is that we’ve created a user-friendly marketplace for both data providers and data users.

Explore the IoT Data Marketplace here!