Establishing a global interconnected IoT society

The vision of the Internet of Things will only be realised if online products and consumer goods are able to seamless interact with each other. oneM2M is working to create an interoperability standard that will enable this to happen, as Omar Elloumi, Chair of the oneM2M Technical Plenary, explains

Establishing a global interconnected IoT society

As a term coined less than 10 years ago, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a phenomenon that has moved rapidly from conception to reality. Today, there is no doubt IoT is happening; it is impacting our lives more and more every day, with Smart Cities now beginning to emerge as governments and business look to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

The statistics gauging the long-term impact of IoT are also impressive. According to Gartner, 6.4 billion IoT devices will be in use worldwide in 2016, with that figure set to reach 20.8 billion by 2020.

The revenue that the IoT market is expected to generate is also high; analyst firm Berg Insight reported this year that the global third party IoT platform market increased 36% to €610 million in 2015, forecasting that it will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.8%, to reach revenues of €3.05 billion in 2021.

But despite these impressive projections, there is one group that is less eager to embrace IoT technology: the consumer. The latest Deloitte Consumer Review concluded there is a slow uptake of IoT in the home, with 70% of UK consumers not planning on purchasing an IoT device in the next year, due to barriers around price, perception and security.

So, what’s the missing link? As the number of online products and consumer goods increases, the risk of having siloed systems incapable of seamlessly interacting with each other is also rising.

For consumers to truly buy into and benefit from IoT, unified communication across all devices, regardless of the product brand, is required, while attention must also be paid to the very real concerns around security and efficiency.

Unlocking the potential of IoT
Tackling this problem from the core is oneM2M, the global machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT standards initiative consisting of more than 200 member companies from around the world.

In the brave new digital world, oneM2M works to eliminate the potential problems within the IoT space that breed consumer uncertainty, and we have recently passed another major landmark in achieving this. Building on the publication of our first set of specifications – Release 1 – last year, we have now finalised the next set of specifications – Release 2.

Emphasising the major role of industrial applications within the IoT, Release 2 introduces 14 additional specifications for the expansion of seamless IoT interconnectivity across multiple sectors, including automotive, healthcare, smart homes and smart cities, building on the stability and reliability of the oneM2M standards previously introduced in Release 1 to increase IoT interoperability.

Without this, the dream of IoT could quickly become a nightmare, with the segregated systems where products can only communicate with others of the same brand of today simply growing in size and complexity.

The result of this would be overly complex and time-consuming operations, vendor lock-in and reduced innovation, hindering overall progress. oneM2M’s Release 2 greatly reduces the risk of this worst case scenario by expanding the number of devices that can be included in an IoT ecosystem.

What is Release 2?
oneM2M’s technical specifications address the need for a common M2M service layer, which sits between M2M applications and communication hardware and software that transports data.

The layer is software-based and provides functions that M2M applications across different industry segments commonly need, which are then exposed to applications via APIs, allowing for distributed intelligence.

Compared with Release 1 specifications, Release 2 contains a number of significant developments in order to expand the use of IoT technology. Semantic interoperability, for example, takes IoT from simply connecting devices to understanding the data that is being collected.

Within the IoT industry there is not only a whole host of different technologies but also a range of different vertical industries, to which IoT can be applied. When it comes to these different technologies and vertical industries communicating, there are also multiple languages being spoken, despite the meaning often being similar.

This presents a need to decode, or translate, the language. Release 2 does just that by extracting the data from different devices into the common abstract layer, enabling semantic descriptions to be created.

This allows the data to be exchanged and understood between different devices which, in turn, enables it to be collected, distributed and reused in a secure manner – a huge value-add for consumers and, therefore, an important factor in ensuring the IoT industry continues to grow.

Legacy IoT equipment is another important consideration in Release 2, with the specifications enabling even devices without the oneM2M protocol to be added to the IoT sphere. This is especially relevant in industrial IoT applications, where more legacy equipment is in use.

With oneM2M’s Release 2 enabling interworking with popular IoT device ecosystems such as AllSeen Alliance, Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and Open Mobile Alliance Lightweight Machine-to-Machine (OMA LWM2M), users can upgrade their systems without completely overhauling them.

Application developer APIs and guidelines are also given in Release 2, providing the first global set of standards for application developers to use. oneM2M’s Release 3 will build on this further by making the standard more reader-friendly for developers.

Further building on this is the information modelling of Release 2, which specifically extends the oneM2M protocol into the home and industrial domains, allowing different devices to look the same to an application based in the cloud.

In addition, Release 2 makes a significant contribution to improve IoT security, with the specifications including substantial security enhancements and dynamic authorisations. This enables secure communications between applications and their host servers, providing end-to-end security.

oneM2M based Smart City Deployment – Busan
When applied to the growing Smart Cities concept, Release 2 can unlock the ability for various vertical organisations, such as smart utilities, to share data. This is achieved through the abstraction, mechanisms and the information models, as well as semantic interoperability. As a result, information can be shared between various utility providers in one city to serve the community.

Here, oneM2M can be considered as a harmonisation platform. Our standards are especially useful for smart cities because of the number of different companies, services and applications to consider – each needing to interwork between different systems and different platforms.

A successfully established Korean IoT Cluster Project – Busan Global Smart City – facilitates the conjunction of various IoT services based on the oneM2M platform, which are tailored to regional characteristics.

The MSIP (Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning) supports the Korean project and encourages the growth of profitable services and to establish an IoT ecosystem in the region with the smart city frameworks validated from oneM2M’s global standards.

The project involves developing an Open Smart City platform based on oneM2M standards, creating a clear pathway for urban services and establishing governance for the operation.

Future Steps
Of course, the IoT ecosystem, including Smart Cities, is still developing and it is expected that the Release 3 specifications will build even further on Release 2. Release 3 specifications, which are expected to be completed by mid-2017, are focusing on three main areas:

• Increased interoperability – allowing interworking between additional devices, particularly in the industrial domain (including DDS, OSGI, OPC-UA as well as proximal IoT interworking).
• Cellular industry – providing technology that IoT systems can take advantage of, in order to efficiently utilise new types of low-power networks, including narrow band constrained networks.
• Application Developers – continuing to make the system easier for the application developers with an additional set of guidelines, as well as the ability to provide profiles for various types of devices.

Further development of the test specification documentation started in Release 2 will also be seen in Release 3, as well as improvements and technical corrections based on feedback from implementers and from participants of the oneM2M Interoperability event, which took place in May 2016 in Korea.

As IoT devices continue to grow in popularity, this work is key to achieving universally accepted specifications and protocols for true interoperability between IoT devices and applications. With this in place, it is only a matter of time before the projections currently being set by analysts are realised, along with the full potential of seamless connectivity and globally interconnected society.

About the author
Dr. Omar Elloumi is Chair of the oneM2M Technical Plenary, (Nokia corporate CTO group). He is also the chair of oneM2M Technical Plenary after having led the oneM2M Architecture group delivering the first release of specifications.

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