Digital Ecosystems

The History of the E015 Digital Ecosystem


September 22, 2022

October 4, 2012: Italy’s first six pioneers in mobility information (SEA, Trenord, ATM, Trenitalia, Infoblu and Serravalle) test the E015 digital ecosystem model, which is none other than a series of rules to simplify cooperation between parties (bodies or companies) interested in sharing data with other parties in need of data to enhance their digital solutions.
The E015 Digital Ecosystem has grown rapidly since then to over 600 participants today, with more than 100 applications available to the public and, most importantly, over 500 relationships based on the sharing of data useful for the creation of content and services in a range of different fields via the E015 applications.

“Today,” highlights Maurizio Brioschi, “there are many potential applications that were unimaginable in the early stages, and that demonstrate how many concrete possibilities the E015 approach has enabled over time, generating valuable solutions jointly with public bodies and industrial businesses. Over half of the digital relationships in the E015 ecosystem relate to mobility, transport, culture and tourism, followed by the environment, health and safety.

How was E015 created?

The expression “digital ecosystem” was first used over ten years ago in the “Strategic ICT Project for Expos”, an initiative promoted and kicked off in 2010 by Confindustria, the Chamber of Commerce of Milan Monza Brianza Lodi, Confcommercio Imprese per l’Italia, Assolombarda and Confcommercio Milan Lodi Monza Brianza, with technical-scientific coordination by Cefriel.
The aim of the initiative was to design a digital environment for data sharing between companies interested in sharing a regulated stream of information in view of the upcoming Milan Expo 2015.
Following discussions between the various stakeholders, the identification of their individual needs and scouting for the best available technologies and models, an overall technical and operational approach was established for the coordination of organizational, process, regulatory, communication and onboarding aspects in order to enable the sharing of digital data streams as if they were actual digital products in a B2B context.
“The E015 Digital Ecosystem,” explains Emiliano Verga, “encourages the creation of digital relationships between different parties, be they public or private, interested in developing their digital assets by sharing them or upgrading software solutions for their users with functions and information shared by other participants.
Created to enable and simplify the exchange of data between local private and public parties, the E015 Digital Ecosystem is a nationally and internationally recognized best practice.

How did it go from the first test to Expo 2015?

It was immediately clear after the first test of the E015 model that the value of data could be unlocked by having the Expo 2015 company publicly open the E015 – Digital Ecosystem site in 2013, and, after the end of the six-month expo, with its official transfer in 2015 to the Lombardy Region as a party responsible for implementing and continuing the initiative (www.e015.regione.lombardia.it) with Cefriel’s technical and scientific coordination.

In 2021, the Lombardy Region approved the “Convention for the development and governance of the E015 Digital Ecosystem”, renewing the ecosystem development agreement, creating new digital services and ensuring that public and private entities in Lombardy had these opportunities.

A number of widely recognized studies have acknowledged the value of E015, including the paper released by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) of the US Dept of Commerce, which mentioned E015 as one of the six successful working cases in the definition of a Framework for Smart Cities. In addition, the JRC (Joint Research Centre of the European Commission) considered E015 the main best practice in Italy and Europe in its document on Application Programming Interfaces in Government.

Cefriel and E015: from precursors to B2B digital product market enablers

The approach that Cefriel has proposed for years for the development of digital ecosystems was a precursor to the models that were subsequently developed, like Gaia-X, taken as an innovative B2B digital product market model. This approach is logically consistent with such models and they reflect practical opportunities for its adoption.

With Expo 2015, the path that Cefriel had taken with E015 in the field of digital ecosystems had just begun.
“Many parties,” remarked Michele Bonardi, “need to share certain data with their partners without necessarily adopting a single platform, but maintaining separate systems to use and develop independently.” The main context for a digital ecosystem approach is a chain or district.

Ergo, the definition of the Malpensa Cargo logistics chain as the Smart City of Cargo, covering the airport, shipping agents, ground handlers and everyone involved in the Cargo City.
Nevertheless, in addition to open and public contexts (like that addressed by E015), or chains and districts, to help companies remain competitive and efficient, we have seen the growing need to intervene directly within companies, for both the regulated sharing of data as genuine B2B digital products between different divisions or between different companies in the same group and to create innovative scenarios with third parties, be they business partners or players in the supply chain.

“Today,” adds Brioschi, “this operating approach for the creation of B2B markets where digital products are traded, which we continue to call “digital ecosystems” with greater awareness and conviction, is increasingly a key factor for all the companies and administrations that want to capture, in the various scenarios, the most value for the business through regulated data sharing.

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