On 22 April 2021, the European Commission, in collaboration with EU-IoT, organised the Next-Generation IoT and Edge Computing Strategy Forum. Aim of the event was to gather top technology experts from across several digital and vertical domains, as well as corporate-strategy level representatives to exchange views on priorities, challenges and opportunities, and establish a commonly shared strategic European vision for the next-generation IoT and (far) edge computing. The Strategy Forum counted more than 500 registered participants, 36 speakers, and sparked insightful discussions in 14 different sessions.
The event, which was moderated by Martel Innovate CEO Dr Monique Calisti, kicked-off with a keynote speech by Pearse O’Donohue, Director for the Future Networks Directorate of DG CONNECT, European Commission. Hereafter, Dr Max Lemke, Head of Internet of Things Unit, European Commission, continued setting the scene.
The event then continued with a series of Plenary Sessions on the topics of System Integration Platforms, Ecosystems and Alliances, Trust and Trustworthiness, and Visionary Concepts. In the second half of the day, these topics were discussed in more detail in a series of round table sessions.
Insights: System Integration Platforms
- Europe’s strength is the domain of system design for key industrial sectors like manufacturing, energy, and automotive.
- B2b platforms for industrial and business IoT will be at the heart of digitalisation, supporting operational and IT conversions.
- Decentralised data processing and sharing in the business ecosystem vs. a centralized platform is like sharing welfare vs. the winner takes it all.
- Energy sector must collaborate with other sectors because they are somewhat in the middle (e.g., mobility, buildings), which means sharing data.
- Today’s ecosystems are often driven by one actor. We need open ones to avoid any type of lock-in.
- Important: The next generation IoT is where the IT world of performance, security, cloud computing, and virtualisation, come together with the operational world of robustness, of real-time, and high availability. Future IoT brings them both together with all characteristics.
- We observed an evolution from standard system architectures in the past, software platforms that served many apps (today), to in the future distributed container platforms that serve many containers of apps.
- Edge is always part of a continuum.
- Virtual reality and augmented reality are killer apps.
- The IoT architecture is the nexus of integration for everything.
- Important: Beyond functional demonstration and experimentation, there is a strong need for acceptance testing, demonstration of business value in real-life use cases (should be included in proposals).
Insights: Ecosystems and Alliances
- The needs from industry focus on data sharing. Interoperability allowing access to edge computing has to be addressed mainly through standardisation and open APIs. Standards are key.
- Recipe for building alliances has three dimensions: 1) Defining the scope and governance, 2) Enabling it by defining policy rules, architectures of standards and federation services, 3) Building open ecosystems as done for Data Spaces and Industrial Platforms.
- For Europe it is important that Ecosystems and Alliances must be open and global.
- Link to artificial intelligence: In the smart IoT embedded intelligence in the future, nodes optimised for the inference phase of AI will reach a major share of the billions of future smart-edge devices. Inference at the edge, learning and training in the cloud or edge cloud important.
- We want all stakeholders to collaborate on open-source platforms, but we also want them to compete on the platforms. We have to decide what to do together, what to compete on.
- We need to establish and strengthen sustainable and resilient electronics and system value chains, supporting the European Green Deal that brings it all together.
Insights: Trust and Trustworthiness
- We are not very good at deleting our data. We should focus on creating as little data as possible.
- The four T’s of Trust: Taxonomy, Transparency, Trust, Transformation.
- Trustworthiness must be made measurable through qualitative and quantitative benchmarks.
- Trustworthiness is not only a key characteristic of AI systems, but trustworthiness is a property of the whole system including all components.
- The business model for trust: Making things visible/transparent and using AI can result in viable business models.
Insights: Visionary Concepts
- We are in the post-cloud era: We move from cloud to cognitive CPS and in the future embedded intelligence.
- Good new word brought up during session: Cloud-edge-nano-edge, that is, the part of the edge that is in the leaves of the network, that is the devices.
- There is a need for horizontal cross-sector developments. Containers are needed for interoperability between operating systems. The concept of containers is coming up again and again.
- The guardian angel is a kind of personal digital assistant, who is loyal to the user and not – as today – to the provider or owner. Change of system.
- Next generation IoT and edge computing unlock the potential for intelligence, autonomous applications becoming a key factor for the creation of an internet of intelligence.
- Citizens are at the heart of a data driven city.
- It is important to be able to orchestrate digital services. The idea is not to revolutionise everything, but to build on existing things.
A big “thank you” to all participants for the inspiring discussions and for making the event a success!