IF FEDeRATED has its way, all logistics chain operators and law enforcement agencies in the EU will soon be able to access the power of pull based data availability and value added services, i.e. artificial intelligence, within the supply chain. The FEDeRATED Masterplan provides them guidance to maximize supply chain visibility and situational awareness, optimize asset capacity and infrastructure use, and making digital technology accessible to all operators while enabling them to develop new services. The reduction of administrative burdens and supply chain resilience would be additional benefits.

WHERE: From Nuorgam in the North of Finland down to Tarifa in Spain, and Cabo de Roca in Portugal (West) to Tsarevo in Bulgaria (East), a data sharing infrastructure provision for logistics will be unfolded. Key elements: decentral and open source. The purpose is to enable operators to digitally connect, to discover market opportunities and also to keep watch over the transport of goods and services from production site to retail outlet through connectivity between individually owned IT systems. These IT systems will be tailored to function as nodes within a data infrastructure provision allowing secure data availability to authorized data users introducing M2M monitoring of the delivery times of transport operations, cargo handling, transport emissions and compliance of legal obligations. The data to be shared - containing information on visibility, identity, business documents, ordering and planning - will also feed a machine learning model that is designed to develop services, such as to measure emission, to assess possible risks and to predict the efficiency of freight transport operations. Daily, operators will receive tailor made messages informing them of the status of their transport delivery time, emissions, possible safety incidents and supply chain disruptions.

HOW: The introduction of this data sharing infrastructure provision should rather not be done through cutting edge technology. Users should be facilitated in an easy-to-use way with minimal investments. Transformational profits should be obvious. The persuading innovation - soul of the machine - lies in semantic interoperability enabling data to being readable for all users. “We have to go beyond standards”, is the opinion, “alignment is key”. To do so, FEDeRATED has developed an open source semantic model that empowers the  operators to align their data, often based on a multitude of various existing standards, with another. This will substantially ease the current bottleneck of no common language hindering seamless multimodal transport operations to taken shape. This semantic model also constitutes the basis for the application of LLM  (LargeLanguageModel) feeding data into a Machine Learning mechanism enabling operators to mechanically programming their data into exchangeable data sets.

WHAT. Based on the FEDeRATED data sharing infrastructure provision, companies and public law enforcement bodies cannot only connect to another in a decentralized manner but also develop their own platform services, thus building their own innovative edge and enhancing the competitive power and sustainability performance of the EU internal market. To speed up this process, FEDeRATED has developed an operational framework, and open source software constituting the foundations for stakeholders to structure their IT systems as a node and to start exploring the merits of open, neutral and secure data sharing.  (more in products)

FEDeRATED end result

The products have been developed by 15 partners and validated in 23 Living Labs enabling federated data sharing between data holders and users. The LivingLabs also provided insights on how to successful achieve stakeholder collaboration for data sharing on an urban, national, EU, and global level. It fueled the FEDeRATED outcome: a proposal for an operational EU federative data sharing infrastructure provision providing common language, controlled access, security, and discoverability functionalities. To comply with these functional requirements, potential participants in this provision are invited to enhance their IT system capabilities to act as a node – Semantics, Service Registry, Identification & Authentication, and Index.

LONG TERM, FEDeRATED wants the EC to switch its smart and sustainable freight transport policy objectives gear to go bigger. The EU is home to rather traditional freight transport market that has left the EU with a data gap.If you want to create change, you need to arm yourself with information, and that starts nowadays with data rather that paper-based documents,” says FEDeRATED. “By providing easy and secure access of real time transport and cargo data and predictive AI, we can help support supply chain operators and law enforcement agencies, measure the extent of climate change, enhance the effectiveness of their operations and accelerate the economic development of the EU”. A structured EU approach on federated and secure data sharing for all stakeholders connected to the supply chain will ease some thresholds preventing digital transformation from happening.

EU GOVERNANCE. Enabling participating stakeholders to migrate their IT systems into a node is not a stand-alone activity. To improve on data sharing capability, need constant gardening, a change management structure. Change and innovation are based on a two-way street communication process, committing both business and public authorities, Therefore, and to safeguard EU organisational interoperability, the EC is advised to develop a governance mechanism to enable the harmonized implementation of the advocated data sharing provision, focusing on capacity building and open-source tool development. This governance mechanism should be developed based on a intertwined a centralized EU level and a decentralized EU Member State level. A monitoring mechanism could measure progress and identify actions to take.

NEXT. The work of FEDeRATED has come to an end. The next stage calls upon all stakeholders to start establishing a network of early adapters.  Few small operators are neither aware nor convinced trustworthy data sharing technologies exist, or are able to afford it. As a rule, FEDeRATED has identified not to force new technologies onto supply chain operators. The most cutting-edge gadgetry they will receive when using the FEDeRATED data sharing infrastructure provision should be not much more complicated than a text message. Groundbreaking tech is only truly useful when it’s invisible and people don’t know they are interacting with it, such as the AI used on smartphones.

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On 30 November 2023 , 168 persons from 14 countries participated in the EU Data Logistics Festival in Brussels. During the conference, various EU Member State and IATA policy views as well as down-to earth  results - and lessons learnt - of 15 FEDeRATED partners located in 7 countries were presented and exchanged within the context of the European Commission policy approach on enhancing data driven logistics, i.e, EU DTLF,  and the EC Data Strategy.

In the concluding plenary session, all participants stressed  the importance of an active role for the European Commission developing an overarching EU Reference Framework for federated data sharing enhancing supply chain visibility: seamless multimodal,freight transport and logistics. Since the start of the EU DTLF in 2015, it appears all the necessary steps have been taken to set pull based - federated - data sharing in EU motion, to structure the participation of the countries and stakeholders around an EU coordinated change management governance, to create an open source environment for innovation and diligently choose business cases and stakeholder commitment for scaling up. "We, EU Member States want to continue.", emphased Maria Carmen Corral Escribano of the Spanish  Ministry of Infrastructure and urban development (MITMA - Spain, EU President second half 2023), "We need you, European Commission, to make it work. Let's start now!"

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Plenary session panel: Brigit Gijsbers (right - Dept DG NL Ministry of Infrastructure and watermanagement), Maria Corral Escribano (centre - Head Unit MITMA) and Szymon Olscislowski (left - EC - DG MOVE - Dept  Head of Unit) on the importance of continuing closecEU collaboration for federated data sharing in freight transport and logistics 

During the Event many documents were provided and presentations delivered. They are accessible here through a click on:

FEDeRATED (hand out) documents:

Plenary session presentations:

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LivingLab Demos:

Plus - Stakeholder Engagement workshop

 Pictures event FEDeRATED 30112023 total room


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EC releases 2024 Workprogramme

On 17 October 2023, the European  Commission published its work programme 2024. Title: Delivering today and preparing for tomorrow. The work programme contains some interesting texts relating to digital technology:

  • We will (..) maintain our efforts to set the course towards a human-centred, sustainable and more prosperous digital future with the Digital Decade.
  • To reduce burdens associated with reporting requirements by 25%, without undermining policy objectives. .. .To achieve this goal, the Commission has adopted legislation, including to reform the Union Customs Code, which will create a single EU interface and facilitate data re-use.
  • To develop additional rationalisation proposals to reduce administrative burdens to streamline reporting requirements that are of limited use, for example by consolidating overlapping obligations, reducing the number of businesses concerned and increasing digitalisation.
  • To allow stakeholders time to adapt to new requirements, we will postpone the deadline for adoption of the sector-specific European sustainability reporting standards. The Commission will adjust the thresholds of the accounting Directive so that more than a million companies are expected to benefit from reduced reporting requirements, and review the benchmark Regulation, including to exempt administrators of smaller benchmarks, which account for 90% of the population, while still ensuring a high degree of consumer and investor protection. The Commission also proposes to facilitate data sharing between autorities overseeing the financial sector and avoid duplicative reporting.
  • The Commission will put the development of artificial intelligence tools and large language models at the core of this exercise. This will help to identify reporting requirements in EU legislation, based on standardised means, and support in analysing their effect in a certain sector. It will also work on the expansion of the use of e-platforms for collecting and sharing data, such as the Single Digital Gateway, the e-platform established under the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action Regulation and the Digital Finance Platform.
  • EC will continue their efforts to ensure that the green transition is done in a just, smart and inclusive way, leaving nobody and nowhere behind, while also engaging actively with our third country partners including to strengthen green growth. To this end, the Commission will initiate a series of green dialogues in order to fully and directly engage with citizens, as well as clean transition dialogues with industry and social partners.
  • To bring us closer to a true circular economy we need swift agreement on the ecodesign requirements for sustainable products, waste and packaging, shipment of waste, and the repair of goods.
  •  A Europe fit for the digital age. The EU and its Member States have set a course to improve digital skills, digitalise administration and businesses, boost research and innovation, close the digital gap and upgrade our digital infrastructure. At the same time, the EU is leading the way in managing the risks of our digital future. With the digital markets act and the digital services act, we have laid strong foundations for making our single market fair, competitive, consumer friendly and safe in the digital realm, especially for children.
  • By making the 2020s the Digital Decade with clear digital targets, the EU and its Member States have set a course to improve digital skills, digitalise administration and businesses, boost research and innovation, close the digital gap and upgrade our digital infrastructure. At the same time, the EU is leading the way in managing the risks of our digital future.
  • Efforts are still needed to agree pending key initiatives that will further the digital agenda and strengthen Europe’s resilience. The critical raw materials act will allow Europe to bolster domestic supplies, including through boosting refining and recycling capacities, diversify imports of these crucial materials, and incentivise our industry to better manage supply risks, while remaining competitive. The provisions will build on the strengths of the single market to boost more sustainable and circular practices and will also allow for joint purchasing of raw materials through a dedicated platform. Many of our partners around the world want to work together and develop local industries for processing and refining to strengthen global supply chains of raw materials.
  • The pending proposals on artificial intelligence (AI) are key to the safe and beneficial application of a technology that has been evolving at tremendous speed in recent years. The window of opportunity is narrowing for us to guide this technology responsibly.Alongside concerted efforts with our international partners to strengthen global AI governance, we will open up our high-performance computers to AI start-ups to facilitate European innovation.
  • Major investments in digital networks are needed to meet our Digital Decade targets for 2030. Following the recent exploratory consultation, we will prepare the ground for possible policy and regulatory actions regarding Digital Networks and infrastructure, notably to facilitate cross-border infrastructure operators in the Single Market, accelerate deployment of technologies and attract more capital into networks.
  • The upcoming Cyber Resilience Act and Cyber Solidarity Act proposal will play a key role in reinforcing cybersecurity, by boosting supply chain security and strengthening solidarity at Union level to better detect, prepare and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents.
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IATA Hackaton boosts FEDeRATED node development

The weekend of 23-25 June, IATA organised its 7th Hacketon on data sharing in Frankfurt. Over 150 developers, devided over 20 teamst, participated in several competitions, all aimed at enhancing seamless data sharing practices in freight transport operations. A FEDeRATED competion was also organised. Three teams - Vediafi, SIMPLE and TNO - competed on how to apply the FEDeRATED node effectively, facilitating real time data based logistic operations.

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The Hackaton enabled the three teams to structurally test and improve the robustness of the FEDeRATED node prototype, the application of verifiable credentials, and the non predefined data querying methodology. Three use cases were executed enabling data exchange between different data holders, also data derived from the IATA One Record Standard,  for various transport operations and crossbordering (Customs)  case.  Being put to the competive test: Vediafi was  rewarded to be the winner of the FEDeRATED prize.

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Aleksander Schmidt and Laxmi Thebe  of the Vediafi Oy team

The three FEDeRATED contributions to the Hackaton are:

- Vediafi - Bordeless Digital Salmon Movement
SIMPLE contribution: https://devpost.com/software/federated-simple
- TNO contribution Multimodal Visibility Infrastructure 

The Hackaton proved to be a great testing bed for the FEDeRATED node to feed into  a FEDeRATED Common LivingLab between various partners, enabling an agenda for improvements to be executed this Fall. The results will be showcased as a FEDeRATED data sharing prototype during the EU Data Logistics Festival on 30 November in Brussels.

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From 13-15 June, the International Physical Internet Cnference (IPIC) took place in Athens, successfully organized by ALICE. This years conference was the first since 2019 enabling participants to meet physically. A great opportunity for the 200+ participants to reconnect; - for FEDeRATED to present and discuss its works. At the conference, Wout Hofman (FEDeRATED Architecture Group)  presented  FEDeRATED and its results in the plenary meeting. In addition he delivered a FEDeRATED technically detailed presentation in a session moderated by Guido Picolli (Codognotto and FEDeRATED activity 4 leader) 

Both presentations led to a lively discussion with the audience. The discussion centered round issues like the support of SMEs and standards. A solution for SMEs must be simple and easy to install and use, of course low cost. Based on the development of Technology Independent Services - like the multimodal visibility service that has been presented - innovative applications could be developed by third parties within an open source - Creative Common - framework approach. Standards are a bit more complex as they consider semantics, syntax, and governance. The FEDeRATED approach presented is to standardize the meta level  (the úpper ontology) and provide procedures for alignment and application of these standards with tools.

The long and winding road
In general, during  IPIC it became clear a mis-alignment between business people and researchers in supply and logistics versus IT developers is taking place. Where the first group speaks about the introduction of (more) ‘platforms’, the IT guys focus on developing distributed solutions like the ones of FEDeRATED. Furthermore, where the plenary discussions focused on ‘standards’,  it is becoming obvious that most, if not all, IPIC plenary speakers developed their own ‘data models’ to deal with standards. An endless standardization road will follow, probably hardly assisting any SME to engage in seamless data sharing practices

Let's get practical
What if, as FEDeRATED proposes,  we were to take ‘standards’ out of the equation, align, and match these models via the FEDeRATED ontology, and potentially applying Large Language Models (LLM) like ChatGPT? Standards would become obsolete!

For those that have not got their own models in place, yet : Not to worry. Please express data requirements and capabilities by the FEDeRATED ontology and you can join easily. On-boarding then can focus on ‘trust’ provided by an open infrastructure for Identification and Authentication. More to come at the FEDeRATED EU Data Logistics Festival on 30 November 2023 in Brussels. 

For the architects and humans

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This project is co-funded by the European Commission Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)