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Introducing SecureDataCloud

SecureDataCloud is a research project of SESAR WPE-second call, presenting an innovative solution to the problem of data sharing in ATM, pursuing the collaborative creation of knowledge among stakeholders while at the same time guaranteeing the necessary level of data privacy. This is to be accomplished by the use of secure computation, a set of techniques allowing non-trivial computations while preserving the privacy of the inputs to any involved party. More information can be found on the project website. Massimiliano Zanin (Innaxis) is the Project Coordinator

The problem and the project vision

The achievement of efficient information sharing and coordination between the different stakeholders involved in air transport and ATM is considered one of the most important priorities in aviation, with potential benefits ranging from improved safety and reduced delays to more environmental-friendly operations. In spite of this, the management of the different types of information is at present split among different compartments, mostly isolated and with little cross-integration, due to organizational and institutional barriers that prevent the timely, free-flow of relevant data.

In order to improve this situation, SESAR is currently developing the System Wide Information Management (SWIM), a new information infrastructure which will connect all ATM stakeholders, aircraft, as well as all ground facilities. In spite of the improvements that SWIM will provide to address these issues, information flow will still not be completely free, as most ATM data in Europe is considered confidential and sensitive and, hence, private – both for its commercial value (e.g., when the business strategies of airlines could be inferred), and for the political or social consequence some of the analyses may cause (e.g., safety analysis or comparisons among stakeholders). Confidentiality will be tackled in SWIM by means of strict access regulations to certain types of data. While in the short term these types of policies might be effective, in the long run it will cause European air transport to lag behind other countries, such as the USA, where the publicity of data is considered an essential element of development.

Within this project, a new paradigm is proposed to deal with these confidentiality issues without limiting the ability to perform relevant computations of private data; the use of secure computation techniques. Secure computation is the cryptology field devoted to the study of performing a computation while preserving the privacy of the inputs of the parties, i.e. computing any function on any input in a distributed system where each participant holds a part of the information, even in a cloud-computing environment. This must be achieved ensuring the correctness of the computation while no additional information is revealed to any participant other than strictly the information inferred from that participant’s input and output. Clearly, this can always be solved by assuming the existence of a trusted third party; yet, in real applications, this requirement is not always feasible. Secure computation techniques can enable business models in those cases where trusted parties are difficult or impossible to designate and specific, secure computation algorithms and protocols have been developed for these cases.

SecureDataCloud aims to foster interactions and data sharing among stakeholders by dint of secure computation techniques. The expected results will take the form of general guidelines for the application of such techniques to air transport, which will materialise in the following three outputs:

- Guidelines for the implementation of secure computation techniques in different business cases, i.e. high-level descriptions of situations in which secure computation can provide added value to ATM. This will include a review of requirements, benefits for the ATM stakeholders involved, and algorithm and protocol availability. Clearly, this will be a useful document for any stakeholder interested in solving a problem using this technology.

- Software Reference Framework. This software framework will include functions, algorithms and protocols that will constitute the starting point for anyone beginning a new development.

- Complete simulation results for two case studies. They will include real experiments on the use of secure computation and precise figures for important metrics, like the computational cost or the data transmission bandwidth required to ensure proper functionality. Additionally, it will include measurements of the guaranteed security levels.

Project Partners

Innaxis: A Spanish private research institute with wide experience in different activities in the area of information management in aviation. Among others, these include assisting European institutions (e.g. EDA) in the future of SWIM paradigm, Eurocontrol and the EC in understanding the limitations on the use of the available data. Furthermore, Innaxis plays a very active role in the particular framework of SESAR WP-E, being the Network Coordinator of ComplexWorld, one of the two SESAR Long Term Research Networks. Innaxis will thus bring Air Transport and ATM knowledge to the project, along with a channel to easily spread obtained results to the WP-E and SESAR communities.

Telenium: A Spanish IT service company, counts with large experience in web development and in cloud operations, environments in which confidentiality and security rely today almost exclusively on administrative procedures executed by humans. Its contribution to the project, therefore, will be based in its solid practical experience in cloud architecture design, in developing optimized high performance custom software, and in operating cloud-based corporate and vertical solutions.

Istanbul Teknik Univesitesi (ITU) is strongly identified with engineering education in Turkey with its modern educational environment and strong academic staff, counting with a history stretching back over 228 years. The Controls and Avionic Laboratory (CAL), founded under the Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is ITU’s primary research laboratory for guidance, navigation and control of aerospace vehicles. ITU will provide the project with a strong Air Transport and ATM knowledge.

Devlet Haya Meydanlari Isletmesi (DHMI) The management of the airports in Turkey and provision of the air traffic service and its control in Turkish Airspace is performed by the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMI). DHMI is a member of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), which is constituted according to the Civil Aviation Agreement implemented in order to assure safety of human life and goods as well as sustainable development and economical growth. Furthermore, it is a member of pertinent organizations in international air transportation such as EUROCONTROL and ACI. In the context of research projects, DHMI aims at having a particularly distinctive role, requiring the combination and/or collaboration of both of them such as CDM, AMAN-DMAN, trajectory negotiations, trials of new ground tools and aids and network management

This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 783287.