Will there soon be an “Alexa for Europe” or fitness tracker apps that the family doctor prescribes? What about the data the app collects for research? This is possible because within the framework of the European Gaia-X cloud initiative, there are now concrete projects for the first time. The Federal Ministry of the Economy selected 16 “flagship projects” in a funding competition in which around 130 applicants participated. They are expected to receive funding of around € 175 million by the end of 2024.
Almost two years ago, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire presented the European cloud initiative Gaia-X at the digital summit. So far, the project, which is supposed to make Europe more independent from American and Asian cloud providers and help achieve greater data sovereignty, has mostly been discussed. Now, concrete added value has to be created.
The winners of the competition cover various sectors such as education, energy, health, mobility or law. With the help of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and hybrid cloud technologies, they want to create new and above all useful datarooms.
One of these projects is called Marispace-X. Here, the maritime data must be merged. The Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, the Geomar Helmholtz Center in Kiel and, as consortium leader, the web hosting company Ionos, which is owned by United Internet, are involved. Rainer Sträter, Head of Cloud Services and Global Platform Hosting at Ionos, says: “So far there is no maritime data space, there are only fragments. partials that belong to different companies. With Marispace-X, they want to create for the first time a “common virtual pot”, on the basis of a standardized platform in which all available maritime data are federated and from which new economic models must be created. .
The project aims to help find areas of algae cultivation
There are thousands of documents showing the whereabouts of WWII ammunition in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. There are said to be 1.6 million tonnes of ammunition on the ocean floor, but so far no one has scanned and digitized the maps. Marispace-X is about to change that. This data is extremely important for knowing where, for example, submarine cables can be laid or offshore wind farms can be built, explains Sträter. However, with data from marine sensors and satellite imagery, even more can be discovered, for example how marine micro-currents can be used for navigation to save energy and costs. Because unlike aviation, where wind currents are naturally used for flights, this is not yet a big problem in maritime transport.
Open detailed view
Seaweed on the beach in Croatia: Marispace-X is supposed to help find seagrass beds.
(Photo: Srecko Niketic / imago images / Pixsell)
Additionally, Marispace-X should help find growing areas for marine algae. Grass beds can store a lot of carbon dioxide and thus help protect the climate.
Another project, which sounds like French red wine at first glance, is intended to help advance Europe in the digitization of education: Merlot (“Marketplace for lifelong education dataspaces and smart service provisioning”). With this project, TU Kaiserslauten, IBM and the Hasso Plattner Institute want to create platforms and solutions on which educational information from publishers can be made available across borders. They are intended to support people throughout their lives in continuing education, vocational guidance and career planning.
The Dataloft project, led by Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, deals with health data and the problem of how this highly sensitive information remains in people’s control, but can still be used for research purposes. Many people can be tracked using fitness apps, but this data mostly ends up in the clouds of Google and other commercial providers. Dataloft therefore wants to develop use cases in which people can confidently decide who they want to share their health data with.
A group wants to create the “Alexa for Europe”
Open-GPT-X, which is led by the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research, is dedicated to speech recognition and building AI language models – or “Alexa for Europe”, as Rainer Sträter of Ionos. Besides the WDR and the high-performance computing centers in Jülich and Dresden, the company is also involved in the project. The challenge here is that there are a multitude of languages in Europe. But voice apps in particular can be easily monetized, says Sträter. Call centers want to know if callers are in a good mood or in a bad mood. Even with many voice assistance systems – especially in the car – there is still room for improvement. In addition, TV channels and radio stations have a huge amount of program data which is digitized, but is not available in text form and therefore cannot be searchable. Open-GPT-X aims to solve these problems.
However, it will take some time before you can make money with Gaia-X projects: according to the requirements of the Federal Ministry of Economy, monetization is only possible after the end of the project period of three years.