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Broad and Narrow View of IoT – IoT layers

Originally published on LinkedIn:

IoT Broad and Narrow

In the same way that FieldBus, LonWorks, and DeviceNet competed over control applications in the industrial sensor wars that preceded it, many of the current generation of IoT standards are very network protocol centric. Even worse is the fact that, like their industrial antecedents, they are often bound to specific hardware protocols, as in the case of BlueTooth or Thread. While this attempt at one-standard-conquers-all might seem attractive to its backers, it seems to be doomed to failure. Separation of concerns has a track record of success, especially in standards that address global objectives like IoT (think about IP).

This network centricity shows up in that most of the discussions are about the data over the “wire” (although there may, of course, be no wire) and relatively little about how to describe the devices themselves, their interconnection, or the semantics of what they measure or act upon. There seems to be an obsession with the data flowing between the devices rather than the metadata describing the devices themselves and the tasks which they serve through integration. It is this layer of metadata that we are referring to when talking about the broader view of IoT.

In this broader view of IoT, applications are built on the information infrastructure layer, and this layer also supports the re-use and re-purposing of devices in mashups.

We anticipate an IoT future in which more attention is paid to this broader viewpoint, and we believe that registries have a key role to play in this broader view (see Registries are web services with extensible information models that are perfectly suited to describing units of measure (as in the EPSG Geodetic Parameter Dataset registry), coordinate reference systems, physical quantities, and the devices themselves (perhaps through a Device Type Taxonomy registry) and their interconnection. With registries in place, applications can quickly determine the role of a given device in performing an application task, assess the impact of a component failure, or determine whether and where additional devices are required.

The future of IoT looks very exciting and Registries will be a key component of that future.