New API suite speeds IoT deployment

Image credit: Panchenko Vladimir |

The vision for smart cities is that millions of IoT devices will be seamlessly interconnected through city data platforms and communications service providers’ (CSPs’) networks to manage traffic, parking, waste collection, pollution, energy consumption, weather forecasting and much more. But IoT devices are far from homogenous. Many different vendors provide them, and they use different protocols to transmit data, which has made interconnecting them a complex and time-consuming integration effort – until now.

TM Forum’s new Internet of Things (IoT) Device Management API Suite aims to simplify end-to-end IoT device management. The suite, developed in collaboration with Axiata, Vodafone and the IoT Forum, builds upon TM Forum’s Open APIs. It speeds prototyping and commercial IoT deployments so that CSPs can expand quickly into vertical markets. Importantly, the device suite includes a new IoT Data Access Endpoint API developed by Pierre Gauthier, TM Forum’s Chief API and Ecosystem Architect, to encapsulate different types of protocols (for example, MQTTNGSI and CoAP), allowing devices to be easily integrated. In this Q&A Gauthier explains more about the component suite.

What does the IoT Device Management API Component Suite do and why is it important?

PG: These APIs are basically doing what the title says: managing IoT devices and IoT agents, which are collections or federations of IoT devices. What’s important is that the suite provides a normalized interface to configure and manage the IoT device – get alarms, configure and monitor IoT devices, and provide secure access to them. The same set of Open APIs can be deployed in the silicon of the IoT device or used by an agent. 

This is one of the building blocks to support our smart city initiative. From a smart city point of view, one of the most fundamental issues is setting up the management of the IoT devices. Let me give you an example: traffic light data. It seems simple, but all the vendors in the world are providing traffic light data in different formats. It’s a nightmare. So, we worked with FiWare to create an open source initiative and created a Smart City Data Model that is based on our Information Framework. This is used by the IoT Device Management Component Suite and will be used by the IoT Service Management Component Suite.

Why is the Data Access Endpoint API necessary? 

PG: It’s important because we completely encapsulate the protocols used by a specific IoT device or IoT agent. For example, some IoT devices may report pollution data using MQTT, while others might support the same data using NGSI. There are so many protocols out there. The Data Access Endpoint API lets the user not only provide multiprotocol support for data access, but also for data modification or data event streaming.

We’ve created another new API, the Event API, to support event streaming. This could be used for machine learning to enable autonomous network management and autonomous IoT management. That’s an important use case.

Is this applicable in the 5G world?

PG: CSPs that have already adopted our APIs will be able to integrate these management capabilities into their existing set of APIs, so they could use them to deliver a 5G slicing service, where the IoT device runs on top of a 5G slice. That’s one of the use cases. The API will allow you to connect the IoT device to a particular 5G slice, and the nice thing is that the NaaS Component Suite could be used to set up the 5G slices. It’s an ecosystem of APIs.

IoT plays an important role in a 5G world and the topic is a key theme at Digital Transformation Asia, TM Forum’s flagship Asia event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (November 12-14). Qualified service providers, journalists and analysts may apply for complimentary passes to the event. Learn more here.

Written by Dawn Bushaus, Managing Editor, Inform

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