Why the Mobility of the Future Needs Sovereign Identity Management

An Interview with Kai Meinke, Co-Founder and Business Lead at deltaDAO e.V.

The Mobility Competence Group will meet on 26 April in Wolfsburg under the motto Urban Mobility–Interaction of IoT and Mobility for the Implementation of Mobility Solutions (a German-language event). In the run-up to the event, we spoke to Kai Meinke, Co-Founder and Business Lead at deltaDAO, about the importance and establishment of sovereign identity management and Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) for the mobility of the future, current developments and use cases in the Gaia-X 4 Future Mobility moveID project, as well as his keynote speech on the topic of “Move ID – Opportunities for a more transparent, secure and decentralised data management”.

The main objective of the three-year Gaia-X project moveID is to establish decentralised digital vehicle identities. Why does the mobility of the future need sovereign identity management?

Sovereign identity management and Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) are paramount to ensure privacy and control over personal data while guaranteeing the security and integrity of identity information. In the context of mobility and connected vehicles, the issue of identity and privacy becomes even more important as a variety of sensitive data about vehicle drivers and passengers and the vehicles can be collected and used. With SSI, individuals can take control of their identity information and store, manage and share it securely and confidentially. This is particularly essential in the context of mobility and connected vehicles, as a variety of identity information may be requested by third parties, for example when using ticketing systems, charging stations, parking offers, car sharing or rental vehicle services.

Another crucial application of SSI in the context of mobility and connected vehicles is the authentication and authorisation of users, vehicles and infrastructure. With secure identity management, users and service providers can ensure that they only have access to the functions and data they need and that their identities and data are not misused. In addition, SSI can also help prevent fraud and theft by securely verifying the identity of people and vehicles. This is notably essential in the context of autonomous vehicles, where the identity of vehicles and occupants must be verified to ensure that only authorised persons can enter and use the vehicle.

Overall, SSI and sovereign identity management is fundamental to security and data protection in the context of mobility. By putting control over personal data in the hands of users, trust in technology can be strengthened, and secure and trustworthy mobility can be enabled.

The Mobility Competence Group will meet on 26 April under the motto “Urban Mobility: Interaction of IoT and Mobility for the Implementation of Mobility Solutions” in Wolfsburg. You will talk about “move ID – Opportunities for a more transparent, secure and decentralised data economy”. What can participants expect from your presentation?

I will bring our impressions from the Gaia-X domain Mobility and the Gaia-X 4 Future Mobility flagship project family. In doing so, I will make it clear that there is already a multitude of integration options for smart infrastructures and IoT devices.- In addition to sovereign identity management, these facilitate new possibilities for connection and technical data sovereignty and the monetisation of IoT services and data. All this is no longer a vision for the distant future, but is very real and can already be implemented and experienced today. We use state-of-the-art technology to create federated, transparent and resilient infrastructures. These include blockchains, smart contracts and decentralised applications and payment applications. In future, these will enable providers and users to enter into a direct relationship with each other without being dependent on central intermediaries and, at the same time, to conduct transactions with greater security and at a lower cost.

How is the development of moveID going? And how is deltaDAO contributing?

Gaia-X 4 Future Mobility moveID offers a variety of technically sovereign data services within the Gaia-X framework, which can be tested live using various demonstrators. This includes our moveID Gaia-X portal and initial data and AI services, such as our Vehicle Collection Use Case, which allows the analysis of vehicle data without copying sensitive data or exposing it to unnecessary compliance risks. The basic principle for data protection-compliant and IP-protected use of data, which we use, is called compute-to-data, or in the case of mobile edge devices compute-to-edge. In this case, the analysis software needed to create a useful data product is brought directly into an environment determined by the data provider in order to work with the data here. Only aggregated, anonymised and approved results are delivered in order to technically guarantee data sovereignty. Both access to the data and the software and infrastructure used can be monetised and paid for directly in Euro on the basis of transparent terms of use, which is of great importance for economic sustainability.

This can be experienced live with our “Gaia-X-connected” vehicle at various events, mobility domain meetings, at the Hannover Messe or in this (German-language) video with the DLR Institute for AI Security. Also, in our dataspace, we are implementing promoted analytics using compute-to-data and enabling federated learning for the creation of optimised mobility offers.

Further implementations on the topics of zoning, smart parking, charging in connection with smart infrastructure and real-time billing and payments will follow soon, so a lot can be expected, especially with a view to the IAA. Moreover, we are proud that other projects of the project family are already based on the shared infrastructure and that the ecosystem is also scaling internationally. For example, many services already available on the Future Mobility Data Marketplace of the Gaia-X Hub Netherlands and Gaia-X 4 Future Mobility PLC-AAD are demonstrating models and simulations for autonomous driving on the shared infrastructure.

Just as important and at the heart of moveID, alongside the self-determined handling of mobility data, is the self-determined handling of identities. The implementation of interoperable SSI solutions, especially mandatory within the Gaia-X Trust Framework, is one of the focal points of the work in moveID and is the foundation for any trust, commercial transactions, payments and the successful re-use of research results. This is about the identities of institutions, companies, infrastructure and vehicles, V2X communication and, in the end, also the connection of end users.

We are among the first providers of Gaia-X flagship projects that have succeeded in connecting and demonstrating Gaia-X-compliant and trusted identity and service descriptions and, with the deeper integration of various SSI solutions, we will continue down this road. A rough overview of how we approach the necessary components and the variety of technological possibilities for implementation is provided, for example, by our “Component Landscape”, which we have also published for others to use and contribute to. It allows us to select, evaluate and test the right components for each application and to reduce the risk of backing the wrong horse.

A particularly key component, in addition to those mentioned above, is the so-called Pontus-X Web3 ecosystem for Gaia-X and the underlying pan-European GEN-X blockchain network. deltaDAO is responsible for this and operates it in an ecologically sustainable manner with the other members of the project family and European partners. As a sandbox, it enables the decentralised execution of the so-called “federation services” based on Ocean Protocol, providing catalogue services, contract services, real-time payment services, portals and logging services that are relied upon by all agents in the ecosystem. The special feature is that no central agent, not even the deltaDAO, operates and controls this system, but that it is subject to democratic control by all federators, including European cloud service providers, technology providers, public institutions and research institutions from all over Europe. We are particularly proud of this high degree of openness, resilience and scalability. Open for everyone, but owned by no one; in the spirit of Gaia-X.

What are the benefits of moveID for mobility agents and services and, on the other hand, for consumers who are looking for the best solution for their mobility needs, e.g., to get from A to B?

The most significant benefits for users come from regaining control over the data they generate, some of which is confidential and most of which is valuable. Furthermore, we expect users to benefit from a better service offering and more competition in the mobility ecosystem. So far, many mobility products are tied to centralised platforms and their providers and are not very interoperable, with “either or” decisions being made or, where applicable, double payments. In the future, we expect a much more seamless mobility experience across different modes of transport and infrastructure providers, optimised routing and reservations of charging stations, parking spaces and modes of transport when changing, real-time payments and even the possibility to be rewarded for one’s own mobility data, as it is the basis for any product and service improvement. So far, we have not exhausted all of these possibilities. The future, however, is far more open, efficient and brings enhanced services such as smart parking & charging, faster repairs, CO2 savings and risk minimisation with efficient wayfinding, and the possibility to use own data in an economically sustainable way while maintaining full control.

Mr Meinke, thank you very much for the interview!

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