The end of a year is usually the time for lessons learnt. Please tell us about the achievements of the IoT lab in 2017.
2017 was the year of IoT, but we are quite sure the the best is yet to come. The real potential of IoT is still untapped, and this is attracting interests of many. Several new (private and public) research centers have been recently established and will be created soon.
Our Lab and group, established in 2015, was one of the first working in the IoT field in Russia and the first at KFU. It has been established with a strong International imprint and attitude, involving people from 5 different countries and having collaborations with several International research groups, such as MIT, CERN, Tsinghua University, ETH, Duke University, Politecnico di Milano, University of Messina, University of Melbourne, NTUA, and others. As International Lab (joint Lab with University of Messina, Italy) it received quite high funding involving up to 20 researchers. The best results, also in terms of involvement, have been reached this year because since the inception in 2015 we are steadily on the rise. So in 2017 we tried to strengthen this positive trend, consolidating important collaborations with International research group, such as the CLOUDS Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, Australia, led by Rajkumar Buyya.
We have also started new research lines on IoT data management techniques and solutions, also involving ITIS undergraduate and graduate students. This way, more than 25 papers have been published, also obtaining important recognition for our work (Best Paper Award at the 8th IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things - IThings-2017, one of the flagship conference on IoT), 10 project proposals submitted, 1 European project active (IoT-Open) and hundreds of thousands of lines of code (KLoC) released.
Well, if we would take into account the whole period of the Lab’s existence, what would you indicate as an achievement in the first place?
As discussed above, our Lab can be considered as one of the first focusing on IoT in Russia and the first in KFU, and this can be somehow considered as an achievement. Focusing on research aspects, the main achievement can be considered to be among the first talking about convergence of IoT, Cloud and Big Data technologies. Our ``device-centric'' IoT-Cloud approach has been now recognized and is one of the most attractive, mainstream research direction in IoT. Our opensource middleware, Stack4Things, has been specifically conceived for implementing this vision starting from and extending OpenStack to IoT. Its official recognition by the OpenStack Community can be considered as an important achievement for our Lab, ITIS and KFU, due to the large populations of developers and users of OpenStack.
Please describe projects that you are working on at the moment.
Currently we have more than 10 ongoing works and running projects, mostly in collaboration with our International partners. The most important one is Stack4Things that, as introduced above, is officially supported by the OpenStack community and focuses on providing a middleware implementing the Cloud of Things paradigm, allowing providers to manage and provision things as well as other computing resources (e.g. virtual machines, virtual storage, virtual network), on-demand, as services. Another ongoing project is the one aiming at developing Software Defined Cities (SDC), i.e. programmable and customizable cities which ICT infrastructure which can be rented and used by third parties to deploy their applications and services as plugins by code injection.
A showcase for SDC has been implemented and provided by the #SmartMe initiative, offering a real software-defined/smart city testbed.
Then there are several other ongoing projects on IoT application domains, such as smart mobility and smart health, as well as on IoT data management and processing (ECStream Processing). Among them, a special mention for BlockChain4IoT, aiming at securing IoT using features in blockchain technology and to identify and develop applications in which blockchain and IoT combined can enhance a particular area of industry.
There are plans to start the Research and Education Center (REC) of IoT during the next year. Could you please tell us how would work be organized at the REC.
This is a very nice and, in our opinion, smart initiative on a strategic ICT topic. Of course, we are absolutely available in sharing and providing our expertise and knowhow on IoT acquired during the last 4-5 years to the REC. In terms of education, REC activities should focus on Bachelor/Master Degree Programs to be established. Thanks to the experience gained from participation on International project such as IoT-Open.EU, mainly targeting at the creation of academic programs on IoT, we will support these activities, also providing relevant material to establish International standard programs. Activities of our joint (University of Messina-KFU) International PhD program in Cyber Physical Systems for IoT should be further supported, for example, by increasing the number of scholarships. In terms of research, the REC organization should target the main topics of IoT, such as networking, resources and things management, security and data management, so it could be organized into four main sections and subgroups. The subgroups have to be highly interacting and dynamic, in the sense that people could be involved in projects from different groups.
The REC should also be open to external collaborations, on inter/multidisciplinary contexts (e.g. electronics, statistics, economics, urban and citizen sciences, industrial engineering) and also as complement to internal knowledge (e.g. artificial intelligence, security, networking). In summary, a sort of replica of our previous experience on a wider scale.
What opportunities would the REC be able to help implement?
It would provide an option to be more competitive at international level in strategic areas, such as the IoT one and related topics. A good starting point for that could be our Stack4Things middleware which could give visibility on a really wide population of developers and users, i.e. the OpenStack Community. It could be a good opportunity to strengthen our International-level group with new elements thus competing and mainly collaborating with top players in IoT, both companies and research centers/universities.