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Registry of Things

Originally published on LinkedIn:

IoT Registries of Things

When thinking of the Internet of Things, I am led to the inescapable conclusion that there is a need for a Registry of Things.

Such a Registry could be a single entity, or it could be widely distributed in a registry network. It could be a registry of things like IoT devices, of course, but it could also be a registry of physical objects such as buildings like the Eiffel tower, the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower, or a registry of vehicles such as Buses or Aircraft. The intent of such a registry would be to assign global identifiers to these real world objects so that when databases, IoT applications, IoT devices, etc., reference them, we all know exactly what specific object in the real world is being referenced.

There is no limit to how fine-grained such registries could be, and there is no need for uniformity of the scale of such descriptions. In one domain, a registry might contain objects for every component of a natural gas pipeline, whereas in another, objects might be entire buildings. Furthermore, these descriptions could be refined over time, with no change in the assignment of identifiers or the accompanying semantics. Registries excel at the classification of objects and at the expression of relationships. We might start with a Registry object for the CN tower classified as a “tower” and later relate new objects to it like a restaurant, an observatory, an elevator, or a motion sensor. If necessary, an object could be easily reclassified, or have additional properties added to it.

Registries support location, hence any registered object can have one or more geographic properties such as location or extent. These can be expressed in various coordinate reference systems as appropriate to the general domain of interest.

Like other areas in the Internet of Things, who would host such a registry is currently undefined. It might just be part of an open IoT project; it might be hosted by a government agency, as they do when a city or province provides “map data”; an academic institution might host it, as they do for DNS servers; or it might be hosted by a private agency. Since all Registries of Things would comply with open standard interfaces and data models (see Standardizing IoT via the OGC Registry Platform), hosting by multiple agencies can readily be accomplished.

The Internet of Things and Registries of Things are natural partners.