ETSI creates context information management ISG for smart city apps

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ETSI has created a new Industry Specification Group on cross-sector Context Information Management (ISG CIM) for smart cities applications, with a focus on developing specifications for a common context information management API, data publication platforms and standard data models.

“Context” is the key word here, because data without context are meaningless. Every sensor measurement, every entry in a database, every tweet sent and every webcam video watched has its own context. The context seems obvious to humans: the temperature sensor is attached to an air-conditioner in the house, the database of vehicle registration numbers is used by a policeman in the city, the tweet comes from a person who has just witnessed something interesting and the webcam shows a particular city street with its name embedded in the video frames.

Taken away from its context, each piece of information is nearly useless. And software programs/agents searching for useful information may only find it if the context is available i.e. published with the data. A Context Information Management (CIM) system acts as a clearinghouse for publishing, discovering, monitoring and maintaining data according to relevant contexts for smart applications.

“With the rapid development of technologies such as big data, semantic web, complex workflow or autonomous decision making, the need for interoperable context information is becoming huge”, says Lindsay Frost, convenor of ETSI ISG CIM “The ISG CIM will specify protocols running ‘on top’ of IoT platforms and allowing exchange of data together with its context, this includes what is described by the data, what was measured, when, where, by what, the time of validity, ownership, and others. That will dramatically extend the interoperability of applications, helping smart cities to integrate their existing services and enable new third-party services.”

The group – which was co-founded by members Easy Global Market, imec, NEC, Orange and Telefonica – will work closely with the ETSI SmartM2M technical committee and with oneM2M, the global standards initiative for M2M and the IoT of which ETSI is a founding member, since the IoT is one of the sources of context data for smart applications.

Groups such as EIP-SCC, W3C or ITU-T, and open source IoT software platforms such as FIWARE and OM2M will also be closely consulted. The goal is to interoperate and to re-use existing work as much as possible. The ISG CIM work is intended to align with the EU’s standardisation policies for the Digital Single Market.

Beyond the initial focus of smart cities, the approach will be transferable to other applications, such as smart agriculture and smart industry.

Participation in the cross-sector Context Information Management Industry Specification Group is open to all ETSI members as well as organizations who are not members, subject to signing ISG Agreements.

The first meeting of the ISG CIM is planned to take place at the ETSI premises in Sophia Antipolis, France, on 9-10 February 2017.

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