The Internet of Things is a very multifaceted phenomenon. It operates at all levels: infrastructure, hardware, software, applications, services. It has a disruptive influence on the value chain that we know as it moves into the direction of a value model. There is no generic business model, only specific value models tied to rapidly shifting use cases as every added monitoring building block itself has an effect on the prior implementation. We are thus forever in flux. And this is not something people are used to. What we are beginning to see is how rigid and how un dynamic our current institutions are that area attempting to steer these developments. Realising that we are just at the beginning with DIY nano and DIY bio it is interesting to see what are the chances of the big blocs in the world to take advantage of IoT.
The Blocs and IoT
Europe potentially has strong cards but it is unclear to what extent it favours Future Internet over Internet of Things. We have heard very little from the new units that are supposed to work out an IoT policy. There is no strong political support from Neelie Kroes and the Commission. The Parliament is quiet after a good report. The absolutely strong individual IERC Cluster projects are just beginning to really interact with each other. Bosch and Grundfos makes waves, but where is the rest of EU industry? The IoT Meetups in London are thriving but what will become of this colourful ecology of small lone entrepreneurs? Will they build on each other, or start hundreds of intranets of things? We do see very promising developments in moving from a focus on research to exploitation and marketing.
The USA has no federal policy. Cities drive IoT. Potentially it is leading as Facebook and IBM/Cisco can organise hardware API's and bypass standard committees and outthink schemes like the Object Name Server of GS1. But the Federal Trade Commission is only in November organising its first workshop on IoT and unsurprisingly focusing on dead discussions like privacy and security. IOT with its inevitable course set at full traceability will engender new notions of privacy - privacies - and new notions of security - isolation and hiding is no longer possible. The USA will therefore politically be focused the coming years on discussions that are backwards and unproductive, stalling IoT.
Africa, can it leapfrog with its focus on mobile and given the cheap hardware, software, database storage, analytics and Cloud?
The best cards are for China. It is the only big bloc in the world that can still coherently steer on infrastructure, law, spectrum management, hardware, identity management and preferred applications areas. We want that kind of steering capacity as we don't need noise on this level, but the clearest possible signals, the less EMF possible, and the potential to streamline all devices on energy efficiency so as to counter Climate Change. Only in a very particular time frame did individuals get the idea that they should own a lot of energy consuming devices, including cars. There is no need for that in an environment that favours leasing over ownership. However, in order for this to succeed as a whole it should open up all the data coming from the real time sensor streams for the young savvy generation, IoT hungry, to build on. That plus installing different more networked , less hierarchic forms of management, will lead to a huge advantage.
We then logically think of BRIC. What if it could offer a single platform, and app store that can be accessed with a dedicated device? It would seem that that would lead to BRIC hegemony in the 21th century.
Can IoT create a value model for its 200 million citizens and 25 million mega cities like Sao Paolo that are at breaking point as their infrastructure was build for less then half of that? That was the underlying question of the IoT Brasil forum that organised a two day Conference.
Gabriel Marao, João Neves Fernandes and Luis Fernandez Lopez, organisers, cleverly build it around a Interop test of RFID by Etsi in the EU project Probe-IT, a two years European project that aims at supporting exploitation of European research advances in IoT deployments. Gabriel Marao and João Neves Fernandes are close to real deployments on the ground as they operate from their company Perception.
They also realise however that without strong organisation, real cooperation and sharing resources and infrastructure a Brazilian IoT will not get of the ground.
This need for cooperation and management was stressed in basically every talk. Apart from a strong focus on application areas of RFID and safety and security, especially in the two interventions of José Roberto Amazonas and Gilson Schwartz a strong focus on ethics was voiced. Gilson Schwartz stressed the importance of 'choice' in the entire shift towards a connected society, not just in enduser services. José Roberto Amazonas with his double background inTelecommunications Engineer and Psychoanalyst related that he was convinced that psychoanalysis can also contribute to the IoT ethics discussion. Many of the concerns of the issues raised in the ethics inside website (an IoT-I deliverable) can be expressed in psychoanalytical terms and adding this new perspective may, in his view, enhance the understanding of the challenge the society has to face.
IoT-A Stakeholders Meetup
It is not possible to ensure traceability, sustainability and security linking up the gateways of the different area networks that make up Internet of Things (BAN/body, LAN/home, WAN/car; VWAN/ city) without interoperability at architectural, domain specific and application level.
IoT-A, the Internet of Things Architecture, is the European flagship project in the Seventh Framework Program for Re- search and Technological Development concerning the EU commission's main instrument for funding research in Europe. The project aims at laying the foundation for a future Internet by overcoming the technological, and the socio-economic challenges we have outlined above.
The IoT-A stakeholder group is one of the considerable sources for obtaining external input as well as feedback on the current status of project work. It is no longer possible to build architectures in the lab or without real world input. IoT-A was very early in acknowledging this new reality where the lines between R&D, Innovation and emergent technologies are blurring.
To this day, the stakeholder contributions have been considered to a large extent as the stakeholder requirements from Stakeholder Worksop 1 formed the basis for the initial draft of the Architecture Reference Model (ARM), particularly the domain model and the functional decomposition. Each building block of the ARM was developed in view of the fact that all requirements are met to follow a holistic approach.
In What Stakeholder Theory is Not, Philps, Freeman and Wicks explain why an integrated stakeholder framework is so difficult: "The term stakeholder is a powerful one. This is due, to a significant degree, to its conceptual breadth. The term means different things to different people and hence evokes praise or scorn from a wide variety of scholars and practitioners."
According to them "public and private organisations are increasingly employing stakeholder engagement as an important strategy for improving external stakeholder relations", because "Incorporating stakeholders' opinions is valuable for improving decision-making processes and project implementation." Currently, the prevailing practice domain for stakeholder engagement is largely characterized by complex and dynamic environments containing a wide range of stakeholders, from hostile to conciliatory, from obstructive to collaborative".
This is an apt characterisation of The Internet of Things: complex and dynamic environments containing a wide range of stakeholders. As such it is an open and ongoing ecology of environments, characterised by change and realtime combinatorial innovation.
For all their different backgrounds - automotive, health, logistics, retail… - the stakeholders were surprised to see that their requirements were so similar. In their real world cases the same principles and same abstract level required that "in this IoT-world things become active participants", the goal is seamless chain of real time tracking and tracing, the elite of expensive high level item tracking and the multitude of low level items should be balanced for cost efficiency. Interoperability was validated in the independently generated use cases by the stakeholders as number 1 requirement.
The IoT-A Meetup Sao Paulo showed similar results. During an interactive and lively second day of the Conference, Alessandro Bassi (Technical Coordinator) and Rob van Kranenburg (Stakeholder Coordinator) divided the participants into groups on the basis of one keyword that each of the participants voiced: Health, Security, Education, Protocols & Standards, and Applications and Services.
The Meetup drew young driven entrepreneurs like Marcia Cristina dos Santos who was selected to do a pitch at DEMO Brasil in June, "the most important global Start Up event of the Silicon Valley, where it's been happening for more than 20 years!"
She was selected with my project ON THE GO, that creates a crowdsourcing work of the population to organise its own distribution within the public transport system, taking its efficiency to the maximum, saving resources and generating high accurate reports to public transportation management and decision making. To do so, she uses QR Codes, a gamefied App, cloud computing and big data. According to her: "It's a basic type of IoT, very simply implemented but able to generate great social and economical change, in cascade, in every big city in the world."
The groups were formed in the morning and were so lively in debate and discussion that they all failed to go for coffee during the break! We are expecting brief reports and will publish them on Council.
In the afternoon Alex Bassi went through the IoT-A Meetup structure (slides available on request; kranenbu at xs4all.nl) explaining the Reference Model and the different modelling blocks of which IoT-A is comprised ending with 'How to Build an Architecture'. As IoT-A is aimed at at software and hardware architects it is very abstract, yet it was still possible to take the use case the security group came up with: a gun that would fire only when it recognised the hand holding it as its rightful owner - and work with that through the different models to show that if you use IoT-A it is possible to generate domain specific architectures based on general requirements and models that relate to interoperable architectures.
Council member Flavio Maeda organised a IoT Meetup Sao Paulo in Wayra. Wayra, which means 'wind' in Quechua, was born with the aim of becoming an accelerator for the development of future Silicon Valleys in the countries where Telefónica is present.
With about 25 IoT interested entrepreneurs the keywords were:
User and Usage behaviour
New Business Models
Hunger - (Waste- better management through monitoring)
Hands on - DIY
Easy Install and Use
Knowledge and Time were the most named of important things or qualities that people lacked. Which becomes really problematic as we are (still :) human and have clear boundaries as to what we can take in and what we need as a balance between work family friends and time off. Nobody is any the better with breaking down, which is inevitable if that balance is not set well. We are 24/7 yes but we can not be 24/7 at our best. It is important to harness our expertise into real focused moments. There is so much out there! Still you are the expert and the sole measure of what is quality out there. Don't be fooled into thinking you can get an overview of Internet of Things. That is no longer possible as we are currently on the verge of witnessing the emergence of a “mega-market, where markets such as home and building automation, electricity generation and distribution, logistics, automotive as well as telecommunication and information technology will steadily converge. We do not know the consequences of connecting all these smart objects (smart meter, e-vehicle, cargo container, fridge etc.) to the Internet.” [Strueker et al. 2011].6
as societal disruption because certain actors get 'smart' before others is clearly identified as a risk. This will leave the rural areas very underdeveloped and create gated smart communities but only for a happy few. This will lead to social unrest and is a threat to "harmony with stable innovation".
It is therefore essential to create a Proactive Taskforce forming a cross sectional group of people who understand the nature of the change and act solely on the basis of this. They look into the passport as an IoT device, decision making structures on the basis of real-time information and semi-autonomous systems, ecologies of scale operating on several forms of currencies, transforming security paradigms into securities actionables. They will inform the political, technological and cultural elites to formulate in inter-subjective and pragmatic ways: How can we help existing institutions and power nodes to transform into a networked form of a variety of heterogeneous forms of organisation that need mediation? Might we not be able to facilitate citizens with the individual and community tools that are necessary to perform the functions of current institutions and democratic processes: slow down, mediate, negotiate, educate, take a long-term perspective...?
Mireille Hildebrandt (2006a) states that "we may need to develop an Ambient Law that is embodied in the algorithms and human machine interfaces that support AmI and for this we will have to break through our paralysis, ready to become literate in terms of a new script."
A practical solution
There is an acceleration of connectivity in IoT that can not be managed with the current tools that harness democratic decision making nor business models based on patents and IP. The Internet shows how disruptive tcp-ip was for industry and governments. IoT will be even more disruptive to hierarchical systems as decisions on any level become more based on real time data streams that do not cater to human contexts (prestige, power games, -isms, gender...) Currently forms of control are sought lower in the IP stack (Future Internet), in naming and addressing and in conservative business models. However, the former only addresses end to end connections, the second is subject to harsh political fights and territorial conflict and the third will lead to the 'smart city' becoming the business model for IoT but only for those who can afford to move there.
I believe that there is only one possible trajectory to build an inclusive smart society and that is by taking control on device level, platform and app store. The key is the device. Currently the passport is a piece of paper with a chip. The next logical iteration is a chip with a screen. There are over 80 tablets on the market that can be researched. This device preferably would be a foldable screen. That device becomes a gateway between citizens and services. On the application and developer side it is open source and open data. It can be modified and personalised. All broad regions build their own device, platform and app store. There can be seamless potential within each zone. Middleware filters between all zones and starts the slow process are creating a single device/protocol that acts more as a gateway then as a firewall. To an individual the device as also a controller and things can be assigned to it so to become a ‘tribe’.
The road to openness is hard and long. If we can not get the balance right we risk losing an enormous amount of human potential. We also risk our own shot at ‘controlling’ Climate Change as this proposal enables real time monitoring of what is now still ‘personal’ devices and streamlining them to obtain a near to perfect energy efficiency.
Sergio Basbaum organised an evening on Internet of Things where we debated with the younger generation. José Carlos Junqueira is writing about collective intelligence, co-creation and self-organisation and realised that IoT is one of the links I was looking for to make the connection more reasonable when we talked about emergence and new ways of understanding what are surround us. Marcel Casarini clearly reveals how necessary it is that we bring the generation that has grown up in the browser (dated 1993) into the heart of the IoT architectures that we are building. As we were discussing the transparency and radically democratic nature of tcp/ip and IoT, Marcel writes: "I have seen the collapse of this old model everyday. I keep saying to my coworkers that even this work model is falling apart. A lot of my friends are creating their own companies, I am doing this to. I'm even seeing some changes on the old work market, some companies are now remodeling (slowly but remodeling) their work style, to adapt to this new work force that is demanding this new way to relate company and employee.
Some time ago, some fifty years ago, something strange happened in a small village in the Mid West of England. It is not very well documented. It appears that eleven women found themselves pregnant at the very same time. There was gossip, strong words, the occasional blow as the men in he village could not understand. However as one of the pregnant women was fifteen and one over sixty, the village descended in a kind of enforced dreamy sleep. The women stuck together.
The children were born and did they come shining though! They looked the essence of a boy, the essence of a girl. The people rejoiced in prayers, silently thanked their Gods and got on with their lives.
It is documented that one of the villagers, a retired philosopher, did keep a journal.
Every friday from when they were very young he'd play movies for them to draw them into discussions. There was something about them, he knew not quite what. They learned so very quickly, it was as if only one boy had to read a book , and in a debate suddenly any of the girls would have the same arguments. They kept to themselves, yet always seemed to know where the others were. When they were about fourteen one of the boys was hit by a car. It may have been quite unintentional. The driver drove straight into a brick wall of a farmhouse a few days later, no note.
The philosopher began to play back in his mind some other incidents and although he could forestall the thought for a long time, he had to conclude that the children were telepathic, able to communicate in some way without words, sounds or signs one could notice. If one girl knew fact a on Tuesday 10: 12 then the entire tribe would know it at 10:12 too.
He began to consider the implications. Looking back he realized he had know all along that it must have been something like this. The pregnancies, so improbable, so timed- their similar appearance, their way of communication silently and swift. What else could they be but alien? Not unlike the villagers as maybe city folk, or a different kind of human, but deeply and truly alien to their parents, their families, their villages, counties and countries.
I have been paraphrasing The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) by the author John Wyndham - this is the document I'm referring to. In his novel the philosopher packs his truck one day with film equipment and explosives. A loud bang. He has taken them out and himself with it. In his goodbye letter we read that he has come to the conclusion that the children are in the possession of such superior tools that they cannot but either enslave or disrupt their host civilization to breaking point. He sees no other way but to blow them to pieces, counting as he is on the deep friendship grown over the years between him and them that will blur their readings of his thoughts.
Again the comments of Marcel Casarini testify to the fact that this is now a lived and shared reality:
"And last but not least. We are like the kids of the book, now we have this telepathic skill, not only because we have the internet to share experiences and knowledge, but we also have the whatsapp. I see it every where, if you can't say something but needs to say, you send a whatsapp message. Everybody now is connected 24h with friends and with the google glasses this will get a new level, with this new and easy interface."
It is clear that Brazil needs focus in order to master all resources, skills, challenges, generations, opportunities and ethical hesitations. That focus is the pilot to build a device, platform and app store that will have only Brazilian IoT Companies on it. This means not only work for over a long period. The process itself can be ported to other blocs (a joint BRIIC effort).
for more information on the IoT Forum:
Gabriel Marão gabriel.marao at gmail.com
João Neves Fernandes joaonevesf at gmail.com
for more information on Council Brazil:
Flavio Maeda maeda at konitech.com.br
Rob van Kranenburg for Council and IoT-A kranenbu at xs4all.nl