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Data selfishness reduces our prosperity

Travel chaos instead of holiday idyll: For many Germans, the long-awaited summer vacation this year was like an odyssey.

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Data selfishness reduces our prosperity

Travel chaos instead of holiday idyll: For many Germans, the long-awaited summer vacation this year was like an odyssey. Motorways, train stations, airports - traffic jams, delays, canceled flights and long queues caused trouble everywhere. Because after two years of pandemic-related restrictions, the number of passengers rose sharply: 17.27 million passengers used German airports in June 2022 alone, more than 210 percent than a year earlier, according to data from the Association of German Airports (ADV).

In everyday mobility, too, the trend after the corona pandemic is going up again. According to a study by Fraunhofer ISI from the summer of 2021, 38 percent of those surveyed in large cities want to be more mobile in the future than before. But the summer chaos cannot be explained by the desire to travel and staff shortages alone. A major problem lies in the fact that the infrastructure is lagging behind the increased mobility of our society: operational processes are becoming more and more complex; and some have not invested early and in modernization and digitization.

So how can we better organize reliable mobility for everyone after the COVID-19 pandemic without building even bigger airports, more rails and roads? The solution is: more efficiency. A lot is possible, first of all and specifically with more data exchange - across company boundaries.

The key here is mutual trust and the realization that the exchange of data in the mobility sector serves the common goal of all logisticians: customer satisfaction. Anyone who hides data from each other - currently more the rule than the exception - may act logically from a business point of view. A company usually does not satisfy its customers in the best possible way.

The decisive question here is what exactly is shared. A distinction must be made between 'information' from which value can be generated - for example insights, forecasts, analyses, findings - and 'data' that documents the status quo and thus reveals the need for action at an early stage and enables better control.

In addition to better use of data in day-to-day business, the question arises of how infrastructure facilities are financed. The state, i.e. all of us together, or the users? Airports are user-funded. They pass on their infrastructure costs to the airlines, which in turn pass these costs on to the passengers. Profits can be made through additional commercial business, particularly with passengers.

Here, too, available data and their exchange play a significant role: the better we know the individual needs of customers, the more targeted the services will be. This data sharing requires that everyone involved recognize the win-win situation. This requires intensive discussions and the definition of value creation scenarios. In recent big data and AI projects, for example, we have had reliable and forward-looking experiences with cooperative data rooms at Düsseldorf Airport.

A common framework for specific industries, especially in logistics, could now bring about a breakthrough to improve the availability of data and create innovations. What the logistics industry needs is an additional unification framework, a kind of data hanse that creates this social and political framework.

It follows the basic idea of ​​the Hanse, so it would be a kind of solid alliance of like-minded people. It should, by definition, not be a trading company or corporation in its own right and without common ownership, community of property, or sharing of risk among its members. The Hanse would enable much more collective action - with the aim of developing a sense of community.

Based on these goals, a data hanse would have to be based on a legal basis, offering a far-reaching exchange with simultaneous protection: Let's imagine that, unlike today, there was no voluntary, but a legally binding requirement to have to share data (proposed solution

Also as a commercial enterprise and in compliance with all data protection regulations, i.e. without passing on personal data, exclusively with anonymous data. A large majority – 91 percent – ​​of Germans would actually be willing to provide their personal data in an anonymous form under certain conditions, according to a survey by the Bitkom Association in November 2021.

It would have to be legally defined which data is of a general nature and which sanctions would apply if this were not shared. One benchmark would be checking whether each company maintains and updates an open data interface.

Let's also imagine that there is a neutral institution that defines the rules of the game for data exchange and monitors compliance (proposed solution

Finally, let us imagine a uniform and monetary evaluation of those data that are of a general nature (proposed solution

The aim of such measures would be more reliable and predictable forecasts that lead to more efficiency in the everyday life of the logistics industry and create new business opportunities. So that the mobility of the future becomes what we as users want: seamless, uncomplicated and tailored to our needs, affordable and sustainable.

What we can hardly measure today in monetary terms are the costs of all the delays and the unrealized sales of new data-driven business models, which, if realized, would improve cost recovery for infrastructure providers. Ideally, this will result in lower ticket prices and more reliable connections for end users.

Not sharing data or sharing it to a limited extent means missing opportunities for sustainably achievable prosperity. In doing so, we would only need to orientate ourselves to the successful models of the past – the Hanseatic League.

Lars Mosdorf is Managing Director at Düsseldorf Airport. In addition to the commercial department, he is responsible for information technology and the development of the areas of big data, analytics and artificial intelligence.

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