IHAN Blueprint as the target architecture
The main objectives of Sitra’s IHAN project are to create a method for data exchange and to set up European-wide rules and guidelines for the ethical use of data.
The Blueprint is our understanding of how components can be built according to IHAN requirements. The document contains detailed functional requirements for all IHAN ecosystem functional components at the end user, service provider and data provider levels. It also contains all non-functional requirements for the IHAN ecosystem. The testbed follows the community-led IHAN Blueprint as the target state architecture and the IHAN testbed nexus is the first concrete implementation of that architecture.
Rough waters ahead on the testbed - enter at your own risk
The IHAN testbed nexus is the first proposed embodiment of the Blueprint that provides a distributed model of developing the fair data economy. To enable the distributed model, the architecture is based on open APIs as well as open data and protocol standards. The future capabilities are being demonstrated in a concrete manner and the development is currently carried on towards the first public early access version. Some parts of the architecture integrations still remain unimplemented and some areas are still rough, for example the new developers joining the platform won’t find joining the platform completely painless but these issues are being addressed in the upcoming development phases of the IHAN testbed and when the developer tools are released.
For many kinds of applications, knowing who the user is, is important. There are also many data sources that require authorisation of the user. Additionally, the consent mechanism depends on the fact that the user granting the consent is entitled to do so. Various authentication solutions exist in the market but many of them have various issues with pricing scaling and are generally unusable in a global scale. The IHAN testbed offers a new kind of authentication infrastructure that could be scaled to the global level.
Having open APIs and standards is nice but how can the testbed capabilities be used in practice? This is where the applications come into the picture to actually create value for end users that are seeking more transparent, valuable and interoperable services with fair and ethical means. The IHAN compatible applications can fulfil this need by exploiting strong authentication and interoperable and consented data. You can currently build demo-grade applications on top of the IHAN platform and now explore the first example application on one of our alpha pilot cases in Github.
At the very heart of the platform are data product standards. Data standardisation allows developers to rely on the APIs, and to use data from different sources without having to spend significant effort building several integrations. From the technical perspective, when a set of inputs and outputs from an API are combined into a standard, we call it a data product standard. When plugging an existing API into the IHAN testbed a component that uses these data standards must be developed. This component is called a Productizer.
Productizers are a way to turn existing APIs into standardised data products available for the use on the platform. There is a clear communication protocol defined for the communication, and Productizers will follow that protocol and implement the standardisation of the selected data sources using independent components that do not require the original API to be changed. Before building a Productizer you should clarify the data product standards that you are about to use.
Once we have the productised data sources in place, one significant question remains: how do developers access data from various sources in a convenient and secure manner? The Product Gateway is the answer to that, providing the ability to connect applications to a multitude of productised data sources with a simple yet efficient protocol. It will also be able to handle policies such as which security protocols are to be followed for communicating with different data sources (for authentication and consent, for example).
For creating value for the application developers and end users, data products from various data sources are needed. The plan is to build a platform where it is possible to plug in any data source with relative ease, and to the build applications that use that data. Before that is possible selected sources are used to empower the first applications built. Currently, selected data source examples showcase the platform capabilities on the IHAN testbed: PRH Open API, OpenWeatherMap, World Air Quality Index as well as Wealth register and Health database mock-ups.
For easy access to the IHAN testbed nexus APIs and developer-related material, there is a need for the developer community to have their own place for doing these things. The developer portal will serve as the channel for third-party developers (of both applications and data products) to access and use the testbed capabilities to build more meaningful, ethical and valuable solutions for the end users. The open release of the IHAN testbed will include a fully integrated developer portal for wider communities of developers to join.
How to get started as a developer
The testbed is made for developers to build innovative new applications to be part of services fulfilling fair and trusted use of productised data. The testbed is currently in the closed alpha stage and now open for new pilots to apply. If you have a business case in mind where you would like to test out the capabilities on the IHAN testbed, have a look at the instructions how to apply as a pilot.
Behind the curtains we are working on the IHAN testbed developer portal and will be releasing the developer tools later. In the meantime you can familiarise yourself with the current implementation architecture as well as open examples in the GitHub.
With any questions you might have you are always welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.