Interview: Meet DASI Breaker – A Semantic Open Interoperability Solution to Break Down Data Silos

The DASI Breaker project aims to break down data silos! It enables the development of data-driven, context-aware Web applications and services, even cross domain. Find out more about this project and the team behind it in this interview with team member Luca Roffia.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Luca Roffia and I am CEO of VAIMEE, the University of Bologna spin-off I co-founded in 2020 together with Cristiano Aguzzi, Alessandro Fuligani and Marzio Minarelli, and Assistant Professor at the same University where in 2005 I got a PhD in Computer Science, Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering, with a dissertation on “Context Related Information Sharing and Retrieval in Mobile Cultural Heritage Applications”. I have been running courses on Logic Design, Computer Architecture, and Information Technologies for Arts Organizations. My research interests are focused on the design and implementation of software solutions to enable interoperability by means of Linked Data technologies. In particular, since 2016 I have been the principal investigator of SEPA (SPARQL Event Processing Architecture), an open source solution which provides a publish-subscribe mechanism over Linked Data, making the solution very suitable in all the scenarios characterized by dynamic, heterogeneous and not structured data, like for the example the Internet of Things.

What is your motivation to work in the data portability field?

I do believe in the importance of data, as well as in the role played by data to provide advanced data-driven context-aware services for the benefit of many stakeholders as citizens, private bodies, and public institutions. Ensuring the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles is essential, even more when it comes to the data portability. Hence, at VAIMEE we believe that SEPA and Web of Things technologies can play a significant role for the development of trustworthy applications and services, which preserve the privacy of machine understandable data, at the same time insuring an interoperable access and reuse.

How did you hear about DAPSI and what drove you to apply?

I came across to this opportunity via the Knowledge Transfer Office of the University of Bologna. Going through the call I found it very close to our interests and goals, and luckily VAIMEE got its first funding from EU. As I mentioned during the kick-off meeting, I found DAPSI very interesting: involving activities that project provides like mentoring, webinars, networking, and visibility are very important, I would say essential for a start-up at our stage.

In simple words, what challenge does your project address?

The DASI Breaker project funded by NGI DASPI aims breaking down data silos, enabling the development of data-driven, context-aware Web applications and services, even cross domain. For example, climate changes and global warming, digitalization of public institutions, global monitoring of pandemic outbreaks, smart farming, and industrial IoT are all challenges that require innovative approaches. I believe that the possibility to mashup semantic data coming from different domains allows the development of unexpected applications and services. With this respect, DASI Breaker proposes an approach which mixes different standards and guarantees FAIR principles on data lakes, characterized by a large set of raw, dynamic, heterogeneous, and not-structured data.

What solution are you developing?

DASI Breaker aims to extend SEPA to support two emerging standards: NGSI-LD by ETSI and SOLID, a project leaded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The result is an open source solution for the benefit of developers who want to build applications and services where data can be produced or consumed using three different APIs: NGSI-LD, SOLID or SPARQL 1.1 protocol enhanced with subscriptions. As data is stored in the form of RDF triples, the use of the above-mentioned APIs can be mixed to fit the application/service requirements in a best way. This means that, for example, DASI Breaker allows to retrieve through a SOLID pod data produced through NGSI-LD (i.e., the reference protocol of the FIWARE ecosystem) and vice-versa. At the same, thanks to DASI Breaker, the SPARQL 1.1 protocol has been enhanced with WAC, the same access control mechanism used by SOLID. To the best of our knowledge, there are not any other projects/solutions which provide this kind of functionalities.

What will be the next steps?

If the DASPI programme allows us to continue at the second phase, our plan is to demonstrate the proposed approach by developing an MVP named MONAS (MONitoring and Analysis System). In this case, we will refer to an industrial IoT scenario where the temperatures of casting resin transformers would be monitored by MODBUS devices produced by a VAIMEE’s partner. Collected data will be analysed in real-time to detect critical situations, while an historical analysis would allow the predictive maintenance of the transformers. The MVP will allow us to evaluate the extendibility and scalability of the proposed solution.