The Internet For Things research program
Engineering the Internet to become a unified, resilient and reliable communications platform for billions of humans and orders of magnitude more devices embedded in our built environments.
The Catalyst For Innovation: A Pervasively Interconnected World
Data communications, analysis and control technologies are bringing about fundamental changes to how we live, and how our built environments are being re-engineered to dynamically adapt in the service of humanity.
Communications systems are becoming smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient, and consequently being embedded into even the most mundane of home appliances, health and well-being products, industrial devices/systems, transport systems, entertainment systems and so forth. We are surrounded by a myriad of stand-alone and embedded systems that are capable of capturing, storing and transmitting situational and environmental telemetry, while simultaneously receiving and acting upon externally supplied control signals.
Internet Of Things – Pervasive Interconnection Of Devices
Pervasive interconnection of communications-enabled systems and devices – the Internet of Things (IoT) – enables automated remote control to be coupled with real-time environmental and situational awareness on a scale never before envisaged or realised in human history. The increasing interconnectedness of our citizenry is similarly revolutionising how people interact with each other, governments, private businesses and the built environment. Practical applications abound in areas such as Smart Cities/Smart Infrastructure, Intelligent Transport Systems, e-Health/Telehealth/Telemedicine, Future Factories, e-Government, e-Society and so on.
What binds things together is telecommunications. Emerging examples of the IoT have been built on a diverse range of proprietary communications technologies, customised to suit specific market segments or use-cases. But this is not scalable. Truly pervasive IoT requires a common communications infrastructure with consistent semantics and service regardless of whether telemetry and actuator traffic is highly localised, distributed between countries, or somewhere in between.
The Internet – A Common Communications Platform
Today's Internet is one possible unified communications infrastructure, supporting (albeit with ever-varying degrees of service quality) a wide range of remote access, content streaming, interactive connectivity and information sharing services. The underlying Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies already create private networks, public networks, isolated networks and fully globally interconnected networks. The IP network stack has been highly successful at mediating between diverse underlying wireless, optical and wired telecommunications technologies. Governments and communications companies have interconnected their IP-based networks to effect a globe-spanning Internet with the potential to connect billions of humans and orders of magnitude more things.
Internet For Things (I4T): Goals and challenges
The existing IP-based Internet faces on-going engineering challenges. IP network resilience and security, practical IP mobility, energy efficiency, and consistency of interactive and high-performance IP service delivery are all currently-active areas of research. I4T scales up those challenges by asking: How do we re-engineer the current Internet to become a unified, resilient and reliable communications platform for billions of humans and orders of magnitude more devices (things).
Significant I4T research challenges exist in the areas of:
- Characterising the communications requirements of different real-world IoT scenarios (for sensor data collection and reliable remote actuator control), and their likely impact on today's IP-networking protocols
- IP-based transport protocols for low-latency interactive communication and/or high performance data streaming
- Routing protocols for meshes of fixed, semi-stationary and mobile devices
- Dynamic network management / software defined networking
- Active and passive network measurement and management automation
- Security of devices and inter-device communication channels
- Protocol considerations to minimise energy consumption of unattended/unmanaged devices
- Architectures and protocols for managing diverse IP Quality of Service requirements of human-centric and IoT traffic sharing common network infrastructure
Broadband IP architectures include new traffic models, automated traffic classification, performance optimizing architectures, IPv4 to IPv6 migration strategies, and IP Quality of Service for interactive consumer and business applications. IP network resilience and security includes network failure modes and service recovery methods, attacks and associated defence mechanisms, appropriate use of encryption technologies and automated attack recognition schemes. Mobile networking includes performance characterisation of wireless networks, signalling and configuration mechanisms for maintaining service quality with ad-hoc and semi-static topologies, vehicular and personal networks, and so forth. Energy efficient networking might include management of peer-to-peer file distribution, control of servers in Internet data centres, and low duty cycle network protocols to minimise disruption of device sleep (low power) and PC sleep modes.
The I4T research program will generate academic publications, tools and designs for experimental research,
and Technical Reports.