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Session 8 | Private versus public sector approaches to the data space: Will these approaches converge?

Many private sector initiatives – whether research, development, innovation or commercial – have already demonstrated the value of digital platforms. The use of such platforms is evolving. As key enabling technologies, they facilitate interactions and transactions among users. Nevertheless, the application of real-world use cases on these platforms remains limited, and has not yet been validated at scale: this limits the quality of users’ experiences of the platforms and restricts people’s understanding of what is happening on them. Platforms developed by several healthcare large-scale pilots have been instrumental in illustrating the conditions needed for the creation of a semi-open eco-system, but have experienced major difficulties in scaling-up. This situation is now changing: new large-scale implementation projects with a clear focus on data space are starting.

This session provided an overview of the solutions proposed by some major private sector initiatives. It examined how initiatives support the creation of a “system of systems”; explored the key building blocks proposed which could ensure an efficient flow of data in and across domains; considered what is specific to the healthcare domain; and, ultimately, discussed how private sector initiatives might interact with public sector-driven developments. It illustrated the kinds of partnerships that can result between the two sectors.

Silvia Castellvi of the International Data Spaces Association, a key player in the OPEN DEI project, argued how important it is to create data spaces. Crucial items include technical software; governance agreements on how to share data; and distributed software structure(s) that allow people to deploy these data spaces in a common way and make them interoperable.

Joana Feijo of Portugal’s Health Cluster showed how her country is playing an active role in the creation of an Electronic Health Data Space. Portugal is doing so by implementing different initiatives to support the effective use of data for both primary and secondary use. Together, the Portuguese private and public sectors are engaged in, and focused on, the creation of a national data lake that fosters innovation and value in the healthcare sector. Along with the growth of the use of SmartHealth technologies, this data lake will allow for more informed decisions to be made at the level of care, and more data to support predictive and value-based medicine in the national and European spaces. It is Portugal’s intention that the data it collects will be made available with the wider European Health Data Space. The speaker also supplied interesting information about the role of Digital Innovation Hubs.

With the third speaker, the session progressed to explore how to govern people, things, and data, in spaces/places, activities, and identities e.g., across different “edges” in what is called the Spatial Web. Of key importance here is the use of AI. (These Spatial Web standards are now undergoing review/revision in the hands of the IEEE – a global engineering professional association.) A key, practical example used of the operation of the web, in the healthcare sector, is with e.g., the use of robots in hospitals! It is important that data is placed at the centre throughout. Philippe Sayegh from VERSES, a cognitive computing company, suggested that the whole exercise of implementation of such a space could even start right now. Why? Because, he argued, the data that is being dealt with is neither personal nor private data, it is meta-data.


This session was moderated by Marko Turpeinen, 1001lakes.com in Finland. It took place with the support of the OPEN DEI project. It focused on the outcomes that have emerged from the project – particularly its White Papers and standards/guidelines.  

🗣️ Discussion: Clearly, the European Health Data Space is an exciting and ambitious proposition. It covers plenty of opportunities for concrete activities – whether in the fields of applied health and care, research, or policy development. Many varied stakeholders from different fields – for example, in both the supply or demand sides or in the public or private sectors – will have the occasion to start working together on this appealing and dynamic domain. Hence, many of the session, and indeed the Symposium, attendees were eager to start working rapidly on this endeavour, and to use – and share – the expertise and experiences that they have developed. As EHTEL’s 3-minute video of the Symposium concludes: “Maybe we can find solutions”.

✅ ePoll: Of the 13-14 people who answered the ePolls at the end of the Symposium, 62% believed that a private approach to data spaces will move fastest, whereas 31% assumed that both private and public sector approaches will both move at the same pace. Seventy-nine per cent (79%) of respondents would be willing to engage their organisation in a privately-driven data lake initiative.


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