By Mark Davies
As the SYNERGIA project approaches its two-year mark all those involved are focussing on how to capitalise on the work conducted and what are the next steps. For Ioetec, who are cyber-specialists in securing IoT data, we have been looking at real world deployments and commercial use cases of our technology on the Toshiba Umbrella test bed, which is a network of over 230 nodes containing 1500+ sensors spread across 7km of South Gloucestershire
A golden opportunity presented itself recently with a second Umbrella competition led by South Gloucester Council, the West of England LEP, the West of England Combined Authority and of course Toshiba funded through the UK Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund. The purpose of the competition is to address key national or regional challenges such as improving biodiversity and the environment, achieving zero carbon targets in public buildings, actions that meet the needs of an ageing population and using technology to support council services.
This challenge fitted well within Ioetec’s area of activity and, following a successful application, Ioetec has begun development for the “Environmental monitoring for Social Housing IoT” (SocH-IoT)
Social Housing faces a monumental challenge. The clock is ticking, not only to meet net zero carbon by 2050, but also to achieve an EPC “C” rating across all homes by 2030. With 16,000 housing associations managing around 2.7million homes and 352 local authorities there’s a lot of ground to cover. Currently, housing accounts for about a fifth of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. This is largely from the oil & gas used for heating and hot water, with around 10% coming from the social housing sector. Coupled with the current energy crisis, there has never been a more urgent challenge.
Significant hurdles restrict the ability to retrofit at scale & pace, with cost the most obvious cause for concern. However, a huge obstruction is the lack of fundamental data known about the housing stock, it just hasn’t been a priority. The measurement of existing and resultant energy usage during and after reduction measures have been adopted is a key aspect in understanding the effectiveness of the retrofits.
The SocH-IoT project will support this with an innovative approach to the design of sensors and collection of data. Current solutions have three major drawbacks, the first is the disparate range of potential hardware solutions which do not capture data in a consistent way and the second is that the data delivery systems are not flexible enough to support a wide variety of analytics platforms. The third, is the lack of a cost effective and secure collection and distribution platform, which is addressed by the Umbrella solution. The SocH-IoT project address these challenges and will support the reduction of domestic energy usage.
Ioetec will further develop our range of experimental modular sensor units to support a variety of add-on components to measure temperature, humidity, pressure, air quality, CO2, electricity usage, gas usage, outside weather conditions and occupancy. Our existing software platform, together with low power upgrades jointly developed with SYNERGIA partner the University of Bristol, will be enhanced to capture data from these sensors and deliver it securely to a central Umbrella hub. A variety of energy efficient Umbrella connectivity solutions will be investigated including, WiFi, Bluetooth and Lora. The Umbrella hub will authorize each sensor and then collect data where it can be consolidated before being delivered to a remote data collection service.
The collection and delivery service must not rely on customer connectivity so Umbrella is an ideal platform and removes the necessity to employ expensive solutions such as 3G/4G, although these do remain an option. The analytics platform can either be provided by Ioetec or preferably by local and central government agencies. The Ioetec service has an option to format the output data to a number of protocols and this will be enhanced to support the required destination platform requirements.
This design includes several innovative approaches, including modular design to reduce costs, the addition of authentication and secure data delivery, and the delivery of collected data in a consistent format to a variety of pre-existing analytics engines. These approaches solve the existing challenges of multiple sensors with different capabilities delivering to individual user or supplier focused analytics engines, which in turn prevents central agencies being able to generate consistent data to establish regional and national patterns.
Using our experience gained through the SYNERGIA project, we are familiar with the Umbrella node and its capabilities. The available connectivity options will allow connection of our sensors, and the ability to ‘containerise’ software will allow us to provision our software and its dependencies. The ability to collect data and transfer it to a central location, as provided by Umbrella is a key enabler to allow testing in a Smart City environment.
The SYNERGIA team is working towards showcasing their collective technologies in our demonstration day scheduled for the 31st October 2022, so if you have an interest in cybersecurity in the Smart City environment please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the Final Demo can be found at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/synergia-demonstration-event-tickets-402311162517