- Steinbeis Transfer-Magazin - https://transfermagazin.steinbeis.de -

A Decisive Factor: Trust

The Digital Trust Forum fosters trust in digital solutions used with physical assets

With a growing number of smart and connected products now entering into the world of digital technology, issues relating to the information that is gathered and how it is used are becoming more and more important. In particular, many are enthusiastic about rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), but there are also those with misgivings. To engender broad (user) acceptance and trust among all stakeholders, security and data protection must be guaranteed. The Digital Trust Forum (DTF) brings together key interest groups and is helping end users to develop a greater sense of (digital) trust toward AI and IoT solutions. The platform is being hosted by the Ferdinand-Steinbeis-Institute as a neutral and non-profit facilitator.

The foundation stone for the Digital Trust Forum was laid in May 2019 when it was set up with the support of eleven organizations. Since then, its task has been to pursue the vision of fostering trust in digital solutions. To achieve this, the DTF functions as a global, open, and independent initiative, bringing together manufacturers, OEMs, IT/OT providers, and related organizations. Its goal is to enable end users to develop a high degree of trust in AI- and IoT-based solutions, because without sufficient confidence in this field, it will not be possible to continue appealing to new customers and users. Consequently, not only should this proactive role result in trust guidelines being clearly defined with the support of key stakeholders, but their guidelines should also be transparent and comprehensible. Given the rapid pace of progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, striving for clearly defined responsibilities and governance will provide a basis for greater trust in the interaction between AI and the IoT. These are the issues being looked at intensively by the DTF in business and science context.

Pilot projects and standardization programs with the DTF

Aside from defining trust guidelines and reference architectures, the DTF is also launching pilot projects and standardization programs. One example of a DTF project initiative is the Trusted OTA Update Challenge. Technology based on OTA methods (OTA = over-the-air) facilitates contactless software and firmware updates for vehicles, machinery, and devices used in industry. It opens the door to myriad opportunities to offer digital services, but it also introduces new risks.

Another DFT project initiative is focusing on instilling greater trust in private 5G networks, an important issue not just for many telecommunications providers but also for their customers. The project initiatives are coordinated and organized by various committees and working groups under the auspices of the Digital Trust Forum. The role of the DTF is to operate as an independent and self-governing organization, and it is being hosted by the Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute acting as a neutral intermediary. Strategy and steering committees provide strategic and operational direction, and emerging trends with a bearing on standardization, open source technology, and alliances are captured and tracked by different representatives from companies working in the ecosystem of actual business practice. Their observations are supplemented by contributions from a Trusted Manufacturing Work Group (WG), a Trusted Products WG, a Trusted Cloud and AIoT WG, and a Digital Trust Infrastructure WG.

The Digital Trust Forum itself maintains active contact to the European Union (EU) and is listed on the EU Transparency Register as a non-profit organization. EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel regularly attends DTF forum meetings as a guest. At one meeting, she stressed that digital trust is an essential and valuable attribute of democratic societies, to which the DTF is making an important contribution.