Finland’s VTT partners Nokia on data market

The decision of Finnish state innovator VTT to join the Nokia-Veturi data markets partnership has added substantial research and development (R&D) weight to a project that aims to develop new data market concepts and technologies that drive the green transition of cities.

The VTT’s collaboration with Nokia-Veturi is routed through its subsidiary, VTT Technical Research.

Significantly, the partnership means VTT is well positioned to play a leading role in DataMust, a sub-project in Nokia-Veturi that is developing enhanced channels to share data between different industries, operators and their IT networks.

The Nokia Veturi project is backed by a confederation of


Finland

’s leading digital services firms and smart building specialists from the real estate management sector. VTT joins an Alliance that includes Loihde Analytics, Sitowise, Cozify, Coba International and nollaE. The Danish

municipality
of

Århus
, together with the Finnish cities of

Espoo
and


Tampere

, are also capital-contributing partners in Nokia-Veturi.

As a core objective, the Nokia-Veturi project is looking to leverage data as an instrumental tool to solve urban development and living challenges in the domain of energy consumption and construction. A key goal is to use data harvested from smart buildings employing digital-based intelligent maintenance offerings to reduce energy consumption.

At a fundamental level, Nokia-Veturi is working to deliver a new type of marketplace that advances data sharing, automated data creation and processing, said Kalle Kantola, the head of VTT’s strategic foresight and data economy research area.

“With the help of automation, highly processed data can be produced more cheaply and with solutions that integrate different sectors,” he said. “This can be profitable for all platform operators. It can also support sustainable value creation to enable extensive market-based changes in sustainability transitions.”

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R&D trailblazer

The chief elements in Nokia-Veturi’s state-funded project are intended to strengthen


Finland

’s role and international reputation as an R&D trailblazer. The central project is built on three main pillars: sustainability and competitiveness, network scalability and operability, and solution focus.

The sustainability and competitiveness pillar will examine how edge computing can be used to further improve energy efficiency, data security and privacy in digital infrastructures.

The network scalability and operability pillar will look to exploit edge computing’s potential to enable massively distributed, automated and cloud-native data networks across geographically diverse locations to help make latency-sensitive applications and digital services more sustainable and energy efficient.

The solution focus pillar envisages closer co-innovation and co-development among communications service providers (CSPs), webscalers and network technology companies to develop edge-based global services that deliver sustainable and automated data transfer across future digital infrastructure.

The DataMust project benefits from evolving data marketplace and edge computing technologies that eliminate the need to transfer data from one place to another, said Maija Federley, DataMust project leader at VTT.

“Although a significant amount of data is generated in the urban environment, it is not utilised efficiently,” she said. “The energy consumption of digital infrastructure can be reduced by using data locally without transferring it to cloud services. Both goals are based on the concept of a decentralised and local data marketplace and related data processing services.”

Funding

The DataMust collaboration, in which VTT will play a primary innovation role, has received €2.1m in funding through state business development agency Business Finland. The project, which has a total budget of €4.1m, is set to run over two years.

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The backbone of the DataMust project is the Nokia Data Marketplace. This functions as a blockchain-secured platform for reliable data. The platform carries a digital footprint that processes contracts between buyers and sellers of data.

Despite the existence of reliable ways to share data, many companies remain suspicious of new innovation and are reluctant to engage, said Juha Salmelin, head of the DataMust project at Nokia.

“Organisations tend to cling to their own data unnecessarily,” he said. “This often benefits no one. This is why it’s important for companies to have a better understanding and a model of what data can be shared, and what is worth sharing in the first place. Companies need to see how data can benefit them in the long term and which data can be obtained elsewhere.”

The Nokia Veturi and DataMust projects raise the integration of 5G networks, edge computing and data sharing to a new level, said Salmelin.

“It promotes the creation and optimisation of a service development ecosystem that supports sustainable development across sector boundaries,” he said. “The Nokia Data Marketplace will be developed around this expanded marketplace.”

The intensive research cooperation between DataMust and Nokia Data Marketplace includes a deep-dive investigation to ascertain how data harvested from smart properties that employ various air quality, lighting, temperature and other sensors can be measured in terms of value gained in localising data collection and reducing the carbon footprint of buildings in urban areas.

Crunching data

By localising data collection and use, said Salmelin, less data is uploaded to the cloud. The positive spin-off is lower energy consumption by datacentres in “crunching data”.

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A critical challenge for DataMust, and its lead partners VTT and Nokia, will be how to develop viable methods for sharing and utilising data that is independent of individual information systems and technologies. Moreover, the challenge extends to examining what incentives can be offered to operators to persuade them to join the data sharing ecosystem, both in


Finland

and internationally.

As urban environments produce data at an accelerating rate, the landscape is undergoing significant changes due to the ongoing development of 5G applications and the “heightened status” of investor interest in smart buildings, said Kantola.

With VTT’s considerable resources now in play, the Nokia-Veturi project is scaling-up plans to build effective, user-friendly and streamlined networks to share data more widely between companies and different sectors of society.

In taking the project to the next stage in


Finland

, lead partners VTT and Nokia are acutely aware that data sharing is currently limited in scope due to a lack of clear rules governing data quality, the production and value appraisal of data and the interoperability of systems.

Co-innovation funding, and the projected export potential of Finnish business data going forward, were instrumental to Nokia-Veturi and DataMust attracting state support, said Sixten Sandström, the head of Business Finland’s ecosystem unit.

“The starting point of co-innovation funding is that there is a problem in the market that companies want to solve,” he said. “In this case, it was the utilisation of large amounts of data. The solution must also have internationalisation potential.


Finland

is a small country, yet an excellent pilot market offering the highest in technical expertise.”