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Symbiosis of smart objects across IoT environments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - symbIoTe (Symbiosis of smart objects across IoT environments)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-12-31

Interoperability has been one of the key challenges in the IoT domain. Modern IoT solutions are typically vertical, contradicting the multidimensional nature of our everyday lives. In order to address today’s cross-sectorial needs, IoT platforms need to be able to interact and collaborate with each other, leading to cross-platform applications and services. The symbIoTe project proposes a flexible and secure middleware to materialize interoperability, providing technological offerings that include: 1) an IoT Portal for IoT resources (sensors, actuators) with registration and search capabilities using semantic web technologies, 2) an abstraction layer for unified and secure access to those resources across distributed IoT platforms and smart spaces, 3) high-level, domain-specific APIs for rapid cross-platform application development, 4) formation of IoT platform federations, to facilitate secure collaboration and exchange of resources in a decentralized manner, 5) dynamic and self-configurable smart spaces through the seamless blending of mobile devices with surrounding environments, and 6) a secure interworking protocol between the IoT platforms, gateways and smart devices. The gains from the use of the middleware are numerous: i) IoT platform operators can choose to open IoT resources to 3rd party systems and create new revenue streams, ii) IoT application developers can easily access IoT resources from multiple platforms and create innovative cross-domain applications, iii) IoT solutions providers can easily form partnerships to enrich their offerings, expand their customer base and create new services, iv) end users have a unified way to interact with smart environments, avoiding the complexity of switching devices and applications. The project has demonstrated the use of the middleware through a number of trials, involving many IoT platforms. The project has also validated the business aspects for the adoption of the middleware, tailored to each use case considered.
The symbIoTe solution encompasses four modes of operation, mapping to different interoperability levels. Level 1 (L1) facilitates interactions between IoT applications and virtualized IoT resources, i.e. applications can find and use resources across platforms through uniform interfaces. This is accomplished by the IoT Portal which allows IoT platforms to register and advertise their offered resources using semantic data models. Level 2 (L2) allows IoT platforms to closely collaborate by forming federations, which constitute a distributed version of L1; resources can only be advertised to and discovered and used by members of the federation. Level 3 (L3) allows dynamic adoption of new resources at the gateway level and direct interactions between symbIoTe-enabled IoT devices in collocated in smart spaces. This enables resource migration between collocated IoT gateways and prevents vendor lock-in. Level 4 (L4) offers support for roaming of IoT devices to interact with smart objects within visited smart space. On top of the above, symbIoTe offers the so-called Domain Enabler; an application backend that allows efficient search and management of heterogeneous IoT resources, data processing and access to actuators/services, so as to ease the creation of mobile and web applications. symbIoTe is offering its solution as Open Source, using the LGPL v3.0 and Apache 2.0 licenses. symbIoTe has performed a number of trials to demonstrate its middleware. The involved use cases varied from Smart Home and Smart Building/Campus applications, environmental solutions for Smart Cities, to Smart Stadiums and to Smart Yachting facilities. Apart from the 15 project partners, the middleware has been used by 17 more Open Call partners, from the two successfully organized Open Calls. This resulted in a high number of IoT platforms and applications that joined the symbIoTe ecosystem. In total, there have been 24 IoT platforms or gateways that became symbIoTe-compliant, as well as 12 symbIoTe-powered applications. The project has analyzed the business and sustainability aspects of the middleware, using tools and techniques like the Business Model Canvas, the Tussle Analysis and the Value Network Analysis. The findings were validated and extended with the Open Call partners and external user panels. Sustainability options mainly rely on partners’ strategies. As a joint exploitation effort, the formation of an Alliance so as to maintain, update and operate the open source software and services is discussed. symbIoTe has co-organized the 2nd and 3rd International Workshop on Interoperability and Open-Source Solutions for IoT and has participated in numerous academic and industrial IoT-related events, presented papers in workshops and conferences and published articles in high-ranked journals.
In contrast to the prevailing approach of a common set of vocabularies for semantic interoperability, symbIoTe requires only a core set of common concepts to be shared by all platforms, the Core Information Model. Platforms can extend the CIM with their own Platform-specific Information Model. As each PIM is an extension of the CIM, basic interoperability is ensured. Moreover, semantic mapping is employed to communicate across platforms PIM-based information. Direct platform-to-platform interactions within IoT Platform Federations enables closer collaboration in a completely decentralized fashion. oneM2M also foresees platform interworking, but focuses on resource sharing through mutual registration, resource announcement, and subscriptions. symbIoTe goes a step further by offering functionalities like resource bartering and trust. Regarding security, symbIoTe uses a distributed and effective mechanism for controlled access to resources based on the Attribute-Based Access Control approach. A specific access policy is assigned to each resource; access can be granted only to users in possession of a set of attributes matching the policy. symbIoTe allows an application to collect attributes from one or more platforms and use them to access resources exposed elsewhere. This brings multi-domain access-right composition to the IoT domain. Regarding technologies for Smart Spaces, symbIoTe accommodates multiple heterogeneous IoT platforms within the same physical space, allowing seamless access across platforms’ resources. It also supports dynamic discovery and automatic configuration of devices and roaming devices for seamless migration of resources. Regarding wireless network virtualization and management, symbIoTe worked on advanced management of WiFi networks by means of identification and classification of wireless coexistence problems with interfering technologies. We also worked on the management of LoRa networks and have developed a simulator of LoRa technology for estimating the capacity limits in single and multi-cell scenarios. The project results are expected to have wider socio-economic impact over different stakeholders. symbIoTe aims to leverage the European IoT industry arena allowing different organizations to share and access different resources at a lower cost. This will foster the generation and co-creation of new business opportunities mainly for companies which have limited resources. IoT platform providers will be able to expose and monetize their resources. IoT solution providers will enrich their offering creating new businesses. IoT application providers will be able to target new market niches.
Figure 2: The symbIoTe ecosystem
Figure 1: Modes of operation for the symbIoTe middleware