Smart cities create vast amounts of data, but that data is meaningless unless it is supported by context, according to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
In response to this challenge, the standards body announced last week the creation of a new group to develop specifications for Context Information Management (CIM) for smart city interoperability.
“Every sensor measurement, every entry in a database, every tweet sent and every webcam video watched has its own context. The context seems obvious to humans: the temperature sensor is attached to an air-conditioner in the house, the database of vehicle registration numbers is used by a policeman in the city, the tweet comes from a person who has just witnessed something interesting and the webcam shows a particular city street with its name embedded in the video frames.
“Taken away from its context, each piece of information is nearly useless. And software programs/agents searching for useful information may only find it if the context is available i.e. published with the data. A CIM system acts as a clearing-house for publishing, discovering, monitoring and maintaining data according to relevant contexts for smart applications.”
The industry specification group on cross-sector CIM will draw up specifications for a common CIM API, data publication platforms and standard data models.
It will work closely with the ETSI SmartM2M technical committee and with oneM2M, the global standards initiative for M2M and the IoT (Internet of Things) of which ETSI is a founding member, since the IoT is one of the sources of context data for smart applications.
Lindsay Frost, convenor of the group, said that it will specify protocols running ‘on top’ of IoT platforms and allowing exchange of data together with its context, for example what is described by the data, what was measured, when, where, by what, the time of validity, and ownership.
“That will dramatically extend the interoperability of applications, helping smart cities to integrate their existing services and enable new third-party services,” Frost said.