By Tanya Suarez, AIOTI Management Board member
Internet of Things events are now two-a-penny. But the AIOTI’s signature event, the first we have held, was different. It was designed by IoT ecosystem stakeholders, for IoT ecosystem stakeholders. Topics ranged from humanity’s innate curiosity and thirst for innovation to smart energy systems, urban life, farming and mobility.
We looked at key enablers of IoT in the future, including the Sentient Web, Data Marketplaces, and the convergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Operational Technologies, as well as the associated challenges that come with them.
For those of you who were unable to attend, here are some key takeaways from the presenters and panellists on our three pillars:
1. IoT and Quality of Urban Life
2. Building the Sentient Web
3. Igniting Data Marketplaces
BUILD FOR UNCERTAINTY; BUILD FOR IMPACT
Wael Elrifai of Hitachi Vantara and incoming Member of the Board of AIOTI set the scene for the event by stressing the need to build in a double bottom line for IoT. IoT should not only benefit business enterprises but society, particularly those on the fringes. A sensor that detects soil nutrients can increase crop yield by 10%. While a 10% decrease in the price of food may not seem significant to most people reading this, for many it may mean a move away from the risk of starvation. We all have a moral imperative to explore and implement IoT solutions that can resolve pressing societal issues like poverty, environmental sobriety and inclusive economic growth.
TECHNOLOGY SOLVES PROBLEMS BUT IT CAN ALSO CREATE THEM
Alena Siarheyeva, of ISEN YNCREA and Chair of WG2 on IoT Ecosystems, opened our first session on the IoT and Quality of Urban Life, referring to Japan’s Society 5.0- let’s move beyond a purely technological view of what the IoT can bring us. Governance and Standards will underpin much of the future potential of the IoT. This view was echoed by Jens Gayko of SCI4.0: standards are needed to ensure security and protect privacy and property rights.
Martin Bynskov of OASC, provided some further context stating that many of the crises that we experience today, whether environmental or social, are actually felt at city level. We must decouple human impact-benefits from environmental cost.
BUILDING NEXT GEN TECH TOGETHER TO AVOID FRAGMENTATION & REDUCE THE NEED FOR REGULATION
For our next session, Dave Raggett of W3C defined the Sentient Web as a wrapper of Artificial Intelligence. It encompasses web technologies that combine awareness based upon sensors and reasoning based upon graph data and rules.
Thomas Hahn of BDVA and Kai Hackbarth of Bosch & OSGI called for a coordinated approach across organisations to meet challenges in building the Sentient web. One key challenge is the fragmentation of the IoT at the network edge. Indeed different technologies are asking for different policies to be developed. Cristobal Irazoqui of the European Commission called for all stakeholders to live the constraints of reality- not all problems are immediately solvable through regulation.
THE GOLDEN MILE FOR DATA: INTEROPERABILITY, SPEED, SCALABILITY, AND SECURITY
In relation to Igniting Data Marketplaces, the scene had already been set by previous panellists: Nicolas Richet of ENTSO-E pointed out that beyond the primary function of a “Thing” was its ability to create new value through the data collected; Franck Boissiere of the European Commission stated that Data is a cross-cutting subject across all domains, and new use cases need to be “ambitious but be specific and squared with operational delivery”.
AIOTI Steering Board Chair Natalie Samovich from Enercoutim picked up the gauntlet by stating that “we have the why (the mission) but not yet the how (the infrastructure)” for data marketplaces to really function. Digital platforms still require interoperability, speed, scalability, and security.
For Irene Lopez De Vallejo of DEX Europe, data is not a scarce resource but just inaccessible defined. Data marketplaces are a tool (but not the only tool) to make data accessible in a frictionless manner.
CONVERGING TECHNOLOGIES, CONVERGING STANDARDS
Our last panel was moderated by Georgios Karagiannis from Huawei. There is currently a strict division between on standards for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Operational Technologies (OT). The development of smart networks/industrial IoT will require integrated solutions and standards for both. This convergence should be supported by public policy and regulations.
Nikos Isaris from the European Commission made three key points:
1. There is a proliferation of standards.
2. The convergence of ICT and OT is leading to new business models that are not necessarily sector-aligned; value is sometimes being created outside traditional sector boundaries.
3. Regulatory needs may be different; sometimes a light touch or tech neutral approach is appropriate. At other times, we must be bolder and stronger.
COMING UP WITH QUESTIONS IS EASY; FINDING ANSWERS IS NOT
In any case, as Dave Raggett of W3C puts it, we still have more questions than answers at this point. But we must build on our ideals and strengths. Europe is a global leader in digital transformation and ethics, and as Anita Beblek of Agrathae says, we can and should pursue new bold business models based on these values. This we owe to the society of today and tomorrow.