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Standardization is one of the most critical hurdles of the IoT evolution. Without global standards, the complexity of devices that need to connect and communicate with each other (with all the associated addressing, automation, quality of service, interfaces, data repository and associated directory services, etc.) will grow exponentially. The IoT promises billions of connected things which in turn require common standards in order to operate with an acceptable, manageable and scalable level of complexity.
IoT Standardization : an important key
Let’s take a simple transaction: data is typically collected by sensors within IoT devices, transmitted via wireless and wired networks to data and application warehouses virtualized in the cloud, and aggregated for analysis to determine information such as usage patterns through analytics and business intelligence applications. Standardizing is not particularly important to solve interoperability, as this can always be achieved through multiprotocol gateways. Standardization across the IoT landscape is important because this reduces the gaps between protocols (and associated security holes and issues). It also reduces the overall cost of data, associated transport costs and the cost of manufacturing of individual components. This is because fewer standards enable more compatible components, which all leads to reduced cost of design, manufacturing and a reduced time to market. Standardization also streamlines the overall integration at an application level (aggregation of data, interoperability of data, reports and business processes) without being concerned with individual IT devices, unique protocols and non-standard data formats.
IoT Standardization : Why are IoT regulations important ?
Regulations and voluntary compliance is required to clarify the ownership of data, how and under what conditions it may be sold or shared, how it is collected, requirements for privacy, and how the information is manipulated. The amount of data created by devices and people in the coming years will be so important that it will reveal that data has no legal boundaries. For example, data can be generated in Spain, stored in Thailand, backed up in Australia and used by analytics running on a virtualized server in the USA.
In another example, handling medical data in the United States requires strict compliance to the HIPPA laws which state that medical data may not be shared without the permission of the patient. This introduces legal issues when the location of many of the components’ storing, analyzing and transmitting data is not known.
Let’s consider smart and connected cars, and some of the questions in that area that need to be addressed:
- Will the police have access to the data repository within a smart car – which maintains a GPS record of everywhere it’s been, what speeds it’s traveled, and the driver’s habits? This becomes even more interesting when you consider that some cars have dash, rear and even internal cameras recording the passenger and driver conversations and actions.
- Will a search warrant be required to obtain this information, even if it has been transmitted into the cloud and no longer exists on the car itself?
- How must the data be secured?
- Do the owners of smart cars have any rights over the usage of the data originating from their car?
This becomes complicated when multiple devices communicate with each other, with various data aggregators, and with multiple command and control stations across different countries and associated jurisdictions and laws. In the world of telemedicine, which heavily depends upon connectivity, medical devices could be operated from within the patient’s room as well as from a central location in the hospital, and possibly even from a remote location on the other side of the planet. Standards are vital to allow these devices to operate with each other, with a physician’s tablet in another country, and within the hospital control system. Additionally, since the information is privileged and private, regulatory standards are required to ensure the data remains secure, and to specify the ownership and under what conditions that it can be released to others.
IoT Standardization : The Importance of Influencing Standardization Organizations and Alliances
Until now, a few large organizations have been responsible for the definition of the M2M protocols or have performed the needed research and development, and the market presence to enforce those standards. This has created a multiplicity of M2M stacks and ecosystems with very limited interoperability. The current M2M related standards landscape is a result of that: it is highly fragmented. This can be seen across domains where only basic communication and networking standards are being used. There is a trend to increase coordination work done to define a common IoT stack by the different international standard organizations such as ETSI, IEEE, IETF, CEN/ISO, CENELEC/IEC, ITU-T, OASIS, OGC and onem2m. But there is still a long road ahead of us. The beauty of what IoT promises is a seamless interoperability between things, gateways, applications and users that will enable scalability, cross things added value applications, services and cost optimization.
You could represent the M2M market as closed standards landscape with very few interoperability capabilities. In an IoT landscape you enable all those closed systems to interconnect with one another. It is vital to understand the importance of standards and the protocols that your current products will need to comply with. The capacity for analog companies to influence standards to their own benefit is an important aspect when dealing with commoditization. Lines of Businesses in Analog companies that have not been used to influence Standardization organizations should, once they have clarified their strategy in dealing with IoT and their core offer, make sure they proactively drive the standards to their benefit. In the IT world, influencing standards has been a well-known game for decades. Unfortunately, companies that have been working in vertical segments or with legacy protocols will be facing a painful learning curve and they might miss some important steps when protecting their investments in R&D.
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