Europe is well known for having some of the most stringent data privacy regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets out strict requirements regarding where and how data containing sensitive information must be stored, shared and accessed.
At the same time, European governments and other public agencies entrusted with private citizen data recognize the value of exchanging data among organizations to enable them to provide more effective and efficient services and adopt new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), to build the world of the future, including smart cities.
For agencies to be confident they can abide by both the letter and spirit of privacy regulations when they exchange data with other organizations, they must rely on trusted data exchanges built on the principles of a data trust with direct, secure interconnection and distributed security controls.
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GAIA-X: Fostering trusted data exchanges in Europe
Initially established by the French and German governments, GAIA-X is a project to set the foundation for federated data exchange hubs for Europe. It aims to create a framework and set of standards and tools for enabling easy data exchange that also complies with European data protection and privacy laws. The initiative is supported by the European Commission and private sector and includes many well-known companies such as BMW, SAP, Deutsche Telekom and Siemens. Any organization from any country is welcome to participate, contribute or apply for certification.
To realize its goal of increasing secure data exchange within Europe, GAIA-X will rely on the proven infrastructure of well-architected data exchanges in Europe and globally, infrastructure that already serves as a neutral meeting point for governments and industry to safely and easily exchange data.
4 public sector use cases in Europe
Data exchanges such as those GAIA-X is working to encourage provide an essential foundation of trust for fostering data sharing – critical for spurring innovation in the European digital economy. And a data exchange built on an interconnection platform such as Platform Equinix® allows data providers and data consumers to share, buy or sell data and algorithms privately, securely and compliantly on low-latency, high-bandwidth infrastructure.
Here are four examples of how the public sector in Europe is harnessing interconnection to advance innovation:
Logius,[i] the digital services provider for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior, needed a way to ensure secure, reliable connectivity for its Public Sector Interconnection Network (or Koppelvlak Publieke Sector/KPS). KPS is part of Diginetwerk, a private network to which all Dutch government organizations can connect, including municipalities, public organizations and central government agencies. Logius partnered with Equinix Managed Services to deploy an interconnection-based architecture across two government-grade Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in Amsterdam. Equinix Metro Connect® connects the two IBX data centers via high-performance, low latency dedicated network links. Government agencies that are part of the KPS network can now exchange data safely and quickly via a reliable, high-speed interconnected geo-redundant architecture on Platform Equinix. Moreover, the new architecture is adjacent to multiple clouds and other providers/partners on the Equinix digital ecosystem via Equinix Fabric® (formerly ECX Fabric®). This will enable Logius to easily deploy a hybrid multicloud architecture on behalf of the Dutch government for future expansion, partner collaboration and innovation.
Education and Research
As discussed in a previous article, “Digital Transformation across the Global Public Sector,” academic and research organizations often rely on specialized networks such as GÉANT in Europe and Internet2 in the U.S. to collaborate with each other and share data. These networks leverage internet exchange points, such as the CERN Internet Exchange Point (CIXP), to connect with each other and exchange data. As a case in point, a research organization based in Europe that focuses on development, technology transfer and training in the field of information and communication technologies is also responsible for managing local top-level internet domains. As the primary nameserver, the organization needed to distribute its infrastructure globally to connect to IP transit and local internet exchanges for broadcasting the domains. By leveraging Equinix Performance Hub®, the organization was able to easily and efficiently interconnect to IP transit network service providers (NSPs) and local internet exchanges in different metros. In the future, the organization plans to expand to other regions and is considering tapping into Equinix Internet Exchange™, the largest global peering solution across more than 30 markets, as an alternative to national internet exchanges.
Fysiologic, a medical technology company based in the Netherlands, needed a way to manage sensitive patient data across the countries it operates in worldwide while complying with GDPR data residency requirements. Fysiologic partnered with Equinix and Damecon, a Dutch technical services firm, to deploy an innovative data management solution based on Damecon’s secure S3 storage platform and Equinix ECX Fabric on Platform Equinix. Sensitive patient data was moved to secure Equinix IBX data centers, which meet the highest standards for compliance, and with ECX Fabric, Fysiologic directly, securely and dynamically connected its distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems globally on Platform Equinix via software-defined interconnection. The new hybrid cloud solution provides Fysiologic the agility to quickly scale as needed on-demand or expand globally while adhering to data regulations by keeping patient data in-country within Equinix IBX data centers.
The municipal government of Molenwaard in the Netherlands decided to build a digital town hall instead of a physical one due to a limited budget. To do so, the government needed to create a secure, highly available IT infrastructure that could provide constant, accessible communication to local citizens. The municipality partnered with Equinix and MatrixMind to create a digital edge strategy on Platform Equinix. Colocating infrastructure within an IBX data center provided highly secure and reliable 24/7 connectivity to government services for citizens. In addition, ECX Fabric enabled the municipality to securely connect its distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems via interconnection. The “town hall in the cloud” saved Molenwaard $14 million (€12 million) compared to building a new facility, while making personalized online self-service and a mobile workforce possible.
Equinix interconnection is already a trusted solution for data exchanges such as Diginetwerk and CERN. Vendor and cloud-neutral, Platform Equinix allows public agencies and enterprises to combine an interconnection approach with a zero-trust model to securely and reliably exchange data to collaborate and innovate with partners, as well as easily manage changes in service providers. Platform Equinix also provides the ability for agencies to scale their interconnection capabilities on-demand for future expansion needs.
To learn more about how you can secure your sensitive data in a multicloud world, read the Distributed Security – Digital Edge Playbook.
You may also want to read:
[i] Logius, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Equinix will supply and manage infrastructure Koppelnet Public Sector, Oct 2019 (Translated); Equinix, Equinix Provides Services for the Koppelnet Publieke Sector (KPS), Feb 2020 (Translated).