Standardising the Internet of Things

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and succeeding technologies, will change people’s lives perhaps even more dramatically than Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have done so far. This unprecedented penetration of virtually everyone’s life suggests the need for a careful study of the various processes to be associated with the development of such a technology and its subsequent wide deployment. International standardisation of ICT is among the most important of these processes. It is linked to both the technological development and the policy and legal frameworks within which the technology is to be developed and deployed.

As a consequence, it will become essential to identify new ways how to allow all interested parties to participate in this process, and to voice requirements and concerns; i.e., to improve its democratic legitimacy. Accordingly, the standards setting process must not be limited to purely technical matters and to economic issues, but will also somehow have to take into account, for example, social and political aspects. To this end, new processes may have to be devised.

Accordingly, the overall objective of the proposal is "To make initial recommendations on how to adapt the standards setting processes for the Internet of Things to stakeholders’ requirements"

The project is funded by RWTH, as part of its institutional strategy in the context of the German Excellence Initiative. It belongs to the ‘Project House Interdisciplinary Management Practice (IMP)’.
Project work commenced in May 2008; the project duration is 15 months.

Partners include

  • Prof. Dr. Kai Reimers, Research Group on Electronic Business

  • Dr. Kai Jakobs and Prof. Dr. Otto Spaniol, Chair Informatik 4

The China EU Information Technology
Standards Research Partnership

The China-EU-Standards project will promote research collaboration between research and policy in relation to Information Technology standardisation in China & Europe. The People’s Republic of China has recently begun to be remarkably active in many areas of ICT interoperability standards. This raises important issues for China about standardisation processes and technology promotion policy. Their outcome will have important consequences for the European economy and global ICT market. They are flagged as of particular interest to the FP7 Information Society Technologies programme. This project brings together the leading European and Chinese centres for research into ICT Interoperability Standards for a comparative examination of ICT standardisation processes and associated policies between EU and China. It will develop a knowledge network of top researchers in the field in Europe, China and beyond. It will examine the new ICT standardisation activity emerging in China, apparently linked to its goals to promote indigenous technology, and compare these emerging standardisation processes with the more established approaches that have evolved at a European level.

Three strategic studies will address a selected sample of areas flagged by IST as bearing critically on European technology and industrial strategy. They will examine the standardisation approach adopted; the strategies of public policy, technical and industrial players; the likely implementation/ uptake of standards and their consequences for innovation and markets. In particular: will the outcomes be open standards and alignment between regional economies or competitive standards, processes, possibly leading to so-called ‘standards wars’ and/or the fragmentation of global markets. Special attention will be paid to social learning by standardisation bodies, industry and policy actors.

The project is a Support Action under FP7’s ‘Socio-economic sciences and the Humanities’ programme, Objective ICT-2007.9.1, ‘International Co-operation’. It is co-funded by the EU under Grant agreement no. 217457.

Project work started in March 2008, and will continue for 24 months. Partners include:

  • The University of Edinburgh (co-ordinator)

  • The University of Oslo

  • RWTH-Aachen University

  • Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas (VDU)

  • ISI Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research

  • Tsinghua University

  • The Chinese Academy of Science: Institute for Policy and Management

More information can be found at

Development of an Ad-hoc Service Management for
Self-Organising Mobile Networks

Mobile ad hoc networks (MANETS) are spontaneous federations of several mostly mobile devices (mobile phones, PDAs, etc.) over a wireless network.
The goal of the project is to build a middleware for MANETs that enables users and applications to easily discover, access and use services offered by other devices in the network. Examples include printing services, internet connection services, or database access services.

The service management has to offer an efficient and easy-to-use service discovery mechanism that allows users to find appropriate providers of a requested service. Obviously, the mobility of the network nodes leads to a highly dynamic environment with nodes - and services - frequently entering and leaving the network. Therefore, the service management should offer a mechanism that allows users to transparently change the current service provider when connection problems occur. For some services, e.g. for internet access services, this has to be possible even during service usage.
The typically dynamic, unstructured and resource-constrained nature of ad hoc networks poses several challenges for the communication protocols. Since radio and energy resources are usually scarce in wireless environments, the communication overhead must be as small as possible. On the other hand, the network dynamic requires the information about service availability to be kept up-to-date, which almost necessarily leads to additional traffic. Hence, a major goal of this project is to find a proper trade-off between network load and service information relevance.
The project is part of the DFG programme "Basis Software for Self-Organising Infrastructures for Networked Mobile Systems" which currently includes thirteen research projects at twelve German universities. The main topics of this program include routing, middleware and application support of mobile ad-hoc networks.

More information can be found at

Network Support for Adaptive Video Transport
over best-effort Networks

The development and deployment of video distribution services is witnessing increasing popularity among the Internet community. Video-on-Demand, video conferencing and Web-TV are examples of real-time video distribution applications. Here, new challenges occur because of the dynamic network conditions, the absence of Quality-of-Service guaranties, and the multi-receiver nature of video distribution applications. Conventional error and congestion control mechanisms have to be tailored to meet the needs of such new applications. Furthermore, the differences in access networks and device capabilities create a heterogeneous environment, where different user needs have to be satisfied.

Intensive research work was carried out to deal with these new challenges. The main idea is to adapt the transported video stream to network conditions and user capabilities. While most work focuses on performing the adaptation at the end-systems, we believe that network support would achieve better results.

In this project, we examine and develop new network techniques for adaptive video distribution. The deployment of these techniques within the network should allow for a fast and appropriate reaction to network dynamics. Optimisation techniques are applied, in order to achieve the best possible perceptual video quality, while keeping up with the available network resources.

Transport Protocol with Tuneable Reliability for Streaming (TPTR)

Multimedia applications, like video streaming or voice over IP which transfer real-time data streams through the Internet need a transport protocol with real-time capabilities. The Internet's Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) with its complex retransmission and congestion control mechanisms does not take into account real-time requirements, and is therefore not suitable for this class of applications. Accordingly, real-time data streams typically use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) in combination with the Real Time Protocol (RTP) and the Real Time Control Protocol (RTCP). Yet, both provide neither a retransmission scheme nor a congestion control mechanism. Furthermore, both protocols have been designed with wired networks in mind.

The objective of this project is the development of a new transport protocol concept, which is called -TPTR- (Transport Protocol with Tuneable Reliability). This protocol is not only real-time capable, but also as reliable as possible within real-time boundaries. It must support congestion control either by measurements or by explicit rate negotiation. Limited sizes of both the sender and the receiver buffer have to be taken into account. Since there is a trade-off between reliability and real-time requirements the concept must also be tuneable, i.e. it needs to be adaptable to the specific reliability and real-time requirements of an individual application. The protocol shall be -TCP-friendly-, i.e. the congestion control mechanism has to be compatible to TCP’s combined congestion control and retransmission mechanism to ensure fair bandwidth-sharing when TPTR and TCP connections share queues within routers.

To facilitate the usage of upcoming wireless networks, special care has to be taken to optimise the performance in heterogeneous networks consisting of wired and wireless subnets. The research focuses on topologies, where the last hop to the client is wireless, using e.g. UMTS or other radio access networks.

Artificial Policy Agents Supporting Time Scheduling in Hospitals

The project is part of the SIG "Intelligent Agents in Economical Applications" sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Scheduling actions in an hospital is very much prone to interruptions as a result of emergencies. Currently available tools for time scheduling in hospitals are "static", i.e., scheduling is performed manually and the schedule is then stored in a database. This approach, however, has some severe shortcomings. For instance, it is not possible to take into account personal preferences, like e.g. the preferred time of an operation. To overcome these deficiencies, in our approach everyone whose resources have to be scheduled is represented by an agent. The agent knows the preferences of its principal and negotiates with its counterparts if these preferences cannot be satisfied. As it will not normally be possible to accommodate all preferences all participants need to establish their respective priorities. The solution to this problem is NP-complete; it can only be solved through approximation algorithms. The results of the SIG research in the area of Agent Systems are contributed to the FIPA (Foundation of Intelligent Physical Agents;