Drives and Controls Magazine
£23m UK research consortium will examine IoT issues
Published:  13 January, 2016

An interdisciplinary research hub has been created in the UK to drive research into the Internet of Things (IoT). A consortium of nine UK universities will work together over the next three years to explore issues affecting the IoT in terms of privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security (Petras).

Funding for the hub includes a £9.8m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which will be boosted by partner contributions to reach a total of around £23m.

The project is part of IoTUK, a £40m, three-year, Government programme that seeks to advance the UK's global position in IoT and increase the adoption of IoT technologies and services in the commercial and public sectors.

The Hub is a consortium of nine universities led by UCL and including Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University. The hub will draw support from more than 47 partners in industry and the public sector.

“We want the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of Internet of Things technologies, and I know that bringing these universities together with partners from the UK's thriving tech industry will be instrumental in making this a reality,” says the digital economy minster, Ed Vaizey.

“In the not-too-distant future, almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world,” adds the EPSRC's chief executive, Professor Philip Nelson. “Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves, and the wider virtual world.

“But, before this can happen,” he continues, “there must be trust and confidence in how the Internet of Things works, its security and its resilience. By harnessing our world-leading research excellence, this Petras research hub will accelerate IoT technology innovation and bring benefit to society and business.”

Nelson: bringing benefits to society and business

The research will focus on the challenges associated with the IoT, including various interactions, policy and governance issues, and behaviours between people and the IoT systems.

As well as focusing on the Petras themes, the consortium will look at issues such as: control systems and supply chains (led by Warwick, Lancaster and UCL); identification (led by Warwick and Oxford); and infrastructure (led by UCL, Cardiff, Warwick and Oxford).

Future projects will adapt and respond to new issues, trends and innovations, as they emerge.

Evidence from the Petras IoT hub will be used to support policymaking in the UK. The hub members also aim to influence standards that will facilitate interoperability.