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New IDS Mobility Community drives data spaces and internationalization

One highlight of the 2021 IDSA Summit, the International Data Spaces Association’s annual flagship event, was the official launch of the IDS Mobility Community. IDSA envisions IDS communities as a crucial link between cross-industry standardization and industry-specific adoption and adaptation (link). The launch was announced in a special session on Mobility Cases & Data Spaces moderated by Reinhold Achatz, Chairman of the IDSA Board (see Figure 1). First, Karl-Heinz Streibich, President of Acatech and former CEO of Software AG, set the stage with a presentation on the development of a Mobility Data Space (DRM) initiated by the German government. Next, Dr. Tim Wiegels, VP Data of Free Now, provided a first real use case enabled by DRM. And finally, Prof. Dr. Chris Schlueter Langdon (Deutsche Telekom) took the stage to introduce the new IDS Mobility Community together with Sebastian Pretzsch (Fraunhofer IVI). 

Figure 1: Messrs. Achatz, Streibich, Wiegels, and Schlueter Langdon at the 2021 IDSA Summit

Three waves of data spaces in automobility

Data space is emerging as a candidate for “word of the year 2021,” in part because of a breakthrough in the automobility sector, Germany’s most important industry and one of Europe’s most important employers with nearly 15 million and mostly well-paid jobs (ACEA 2020). 

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed data spaces as a top priority for the German automotive business at the “Autogipfel” automotive summit in October 2020, many industry observers were caught off guard (Delhaes 2020). What is a data space (to find out the answer, see “Welcome to ‘data spaces’: Storage is secondary,” link)? Today, the term is used almost as a matter of course. Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s announcement has made big waves. As of 2021, three key data space efforts have become visible – and all in the automobility sector: 

(1) Primus inter pares are (a) a mobility data space (Datenraum Mobilität, DRM) together with an upgrade of Germany’s national access point for mobility data (Mobilitätsdaten Plattform, MDP), and (b) the Catena-X Automotive Network. DRM and MDP are initiated by the German government; the former, DRM, is organized by its National Academy of Science and Engineering (Acatech, link), the latter, MDP, by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt, link). Both are funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). Catena-X is driven by the automotive industry, a consortium of key industry players including all of Germany’s OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) – BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen – as well as leading Tier 1 suppliers, and ICT and software specialists such as Deutsche Telekom and SAP, among others (Catena-X, link). 

(2) These two efforts, DRM-MDP and Catena-X, benefit from previous first-mover initiatives focused on research and experimentation, such as the MobiDS project (2019-22, link) and RealLab Hamburg of the German National Platform Future of Mobility (2020-21, link), both funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). 

(3) The third wave is “GAIA-X 4 Future Mobility,” a family of research & development projects organized by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi); this project family is also a key initiative of the German GAIA-X Hub’s Mobility Domain and is spearheaded by the launch project GAIA-X 4 KI (Künstliche Intelligenz or Artificial Intelligence; see BMWi’s Mr. Stoeckl-Pukall kicking off the project in Figure 2). 

The team of the Telekom Data Intelligence Hub is involved in all three waves … not just talking about it but building … 

Figure 2: Stoeckl-Pukall kicking off GAIA-X 4 KI

Telekom as GAIA-X and IDS pioneer

The common thread running through all of these initiatives: The use of International Data Spaces (IDS) technology. IDS was developed by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; Otto et al. 2019). The technology allows for a distributed, federated data layer and is somewhat like the introduction of Web services at the application layer at the turn of the millennium (Schlueter Langdon 2003), which can greatly improve the flexibility of information systems (Schlueter Langdon 2006). Today, IDS is a readily available set of software components that allow for a basic data space infrastructure while GAIA-X technology development is only ramping up. And that also explains the role of Deutsche Telekom and in particular that of the DIH team: We bring crucial GAIA-X and IDS competence and implementation skills to the table. Deutsche Telekom has been a driving force in both. Claudia Nemat, member of the Board of Management, established the firm as one of eleven German founding partners of GAIA-X. T-Systems CTO Max Ahrens now serves as the inaugural chairman of the Board of Directors of the new GAIA-X operating company, GAIA-X AISBL. And Telekom teams have already contributed to crucial specifications, such as GAIA-X Federation Services requirements. It’s a similar story with IDS: Deutsche Telekom has been involved in the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA) since the very beginning: Telekom SVP Antje Williams, a 5G communications expert, serves as the deputy chair of the Board, and numerous other executives are involved in everything from architecture development to certification, such as DIH tribe lead Sven Loeffler and data economy specialist Dr. Karsten Schweichhart. So how fitting that we can expand our IDS contribution with a focus on the automobility sector, where in Germany T-Systems has been the leading ICT provider for the past decade (“T-Systems is No. 1,” link). 

Figure 3: Sneak preview of the Next Mobility Anthology of the IDSA Mobility Community

Community push: Anthology and international funding projects

Instead of starting with a glorious introduction and lengthy explanations, the IDS Mobility Community will be focused on the straightforward mission to “promote the use of the open IDS standard for better mobility now and everywhere.” Because success with IDS requires mobility to be better with it than without it … better for its users … customers, consumers. Plain and simple: The community will put the spotlight on anything that demonstrates how IDS can improve mobility. Furthermore, due to the global nature of the automobility business we will have to put a strong emphasis on internationalization. Instead of just observing and talking about it we will actively engage in two ways: 

  1. Writing our Next Mobility Anthology: “Data Move People – Mobility Data Spaces”. 
  2. Orchestrating participation in international activities including funding projects. 

Our anthology will be alive, a living document, with new chapters added constantly and updates to evolve with market dynamics. Its inaugural version will be published with four chapters (see Figure 3): 

If you are tired of just watching from the outside… then don’t procrastinate … join the inner circle … start taking an inside view … contributing … and contact the co-founders Chris and Sebastian: 


ACEA. 2020. Employment trends in the EU automotive sector. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (2021-03-01), link 

Delhaes, D. 2020. Merkel urges automotive groups: BMW, Daimler and VW to share data. Handelsblatt (2020-10-28), link 

Otto, B., S. Steinbuss, A. Teuscher, S. Lohmann, et al. 2019. Reference Architecture Model Version 3.0. International Data Spaces Association, Berlin, link 

Schlueter Langdon, C. 2006. Designing Information Systems Capabilities to Create Business Value: A Theoretical Conceptualization of the Role of Flexibility and Integration. Journal of Database Management 17(3) (July-September): 1-18 

Schlueter Langdon, C. 2003. The State of Web Services. IEEE Computer 36(7): 93-95, link