The Power of Data Sharing – Part 2: Data Sharing Models

Part 1 of this blog series explained the benefits of data sharing for the public sector and users. This second part focuses on the how, the different methods to share data and whether it’s all about technology only.

How to facilitate Data Sharing?

Providing access to open data is relatively straightforward and there are proven models to do so. Take a look at our case study about the Open Data Portal for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. When it comes to personal data, things are trickier and that’s not necessarily only because of technology.

There are several ways to share data (see next section), yet the biggest questions remain on the legal and organisational levels. A key term is standards: for the biggest impact, a widely accepted standard needs to be introduced to allow for the sharing of data. This standard needs to comprehensively address the principles of Article 5, GDPR. Once the standard is set, organisations looking to share data need guidance on how to collaborate on integrating their data via the data-sharing standard.

Data Sharing requires commitment on several levels, starting from regulators, to leaders, managers and domain experts and is probably one of today’s major challenges for public administration.

What are the different Data Sharing Models?

The challenge is to translate an organisation’s or administration’s approach to data-sharing to a respective data-sharing model. Technically speaking, there are so many different ways to exchange data, yet, what’s important is that the technical framework is set up reflecting the respective legal and organisational requirements. Essentially the different models can be broken down into four conceptual approaches.

Point-to-Point (or Two-Corner Model)

Point-to-point data exchange refers to direct and exclusive communication between two specific devices or systems, where data is transmitted from one sender to one receiver. This is done without involving any intermediate or shared network infrastructure, ensuring a dedicated and secure data connection between the two endpoints.

Application Programming Interface (API)

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, serve two primary purposes: firstly, they enable different software systems or components to communicate and interact, allowing them to share data and functionality, which promotes integration and interoperability. Secondly, APIs provide developers with a standardised way to access and use the features and data of external services, libraries, or platforms, simplifying the development process and fostering the creation of third-party applications and extensions. APIs can be public, private, or restricted in different ways based on the organisation providing them.

Hub and Spoke (or Three-Corner Model)

The Hub and Spoke Model is an integration architecture where a central hub serves as a primary point of communication and coordination for multiple spoke systems. Spokes connect to the hub, enabling data exchange and communication among the spokes while simplifying management and reducing the number of direct connections between them.

Four-Corner Model

The Four-corner data-sharing model is a framework for secure and standardized data sharing, typically involving government agencies, businesses, and citizens. It involves the sender, a sender’s and recipient’s gateway or access point, and the recipient as the four key participants, ensuring encrypted and authenticated data transmission and delivery. This model aims to facilitate a secure and interoperable exchange of documents and data, especially in the context of e-government services.

The sharing of data needs a clear vision and purpose, that brings the respective data sharing parties together. Once this has been achieved and the rules are clear, a respective data-sharing model needs to be identified, and the advantages and disadvantages of the above-listed models analysed. That is important to remember that a wide universal standard will eventually allow more and more parties to join in and use the same model for data sharing.

In the final part of our series on data sharing, we’ll have a look at security aspects and the challenges that data sharing introduces to organisations.

You might also be interested in:

OGP Framework

Everything you need to know about the Technical Services Framework for Open Data and Data Management for the Irish Public Sector

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