On 25 November 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on European data governance, otherwise known as the Data Governance Act (DGA). The legislation aims to make more data available for reuse by increasing trust in data intermediaries and strengthening data-sharing mechanisms across the EU. To discuss DGA’s implications for digital twin enabled innovation, Pasha joined European legal experts for a webinar that took place on 16 February 2021. (Presentation starts at 33:00.)
At 21c, we certainly see DGA as an opportunity. Digital twins are an approximation of reality, a simplification that can be improved with more data, provided that this data is of certain quality and there is enough computing power to process it. DGA promises to make more data available from different owners (public sector, private sector, citizens) and sectors e.g. mobility, environment, health. Moreover, new data is expected to be fully secure, trusted and interoperable, which bodes well for emerging digital twin use cases (e.g. digital twins of citizens that use biometric data) that hold great potential but have not yet hit the mainstream precisely because of the trust issue.
We believe that the relationship can work both ways, meaning that, as well as benefiting from the DGA, digital twins can help improve the public acceptance of the legislation. As news about digital twins and their benefits spread through international case studies, stakeholders may be more willing to embrace the data sharing ethos that the DGA tries to promote.
To prepare for the DGA, public administrations would be well-advised to review available use cases and answer simple questions: is digital twin a relevant solution for our city and citizens? If the answer is yes, the next step would be to determine what type of a digital twin is needed. Some cities may see a need for a smart city twin that provides a digital replica of infrastructure objects. Some may want to see energy, traffic and pollution all simulated in a single environment. Others may already have a large-scale IoT testbed, so for them a health-oriented digital twin could be a priority. Once this is settled, stakeholders will have a better understanding of what information should be shared through the European data spaces.