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The Hub is a consortium of nine universities led by University College London

New consortium delves deep into Internet of Things

UK government confirms new research hub to drive forward UK research in the Internet of Things

Posted by Hannah Oakman | January 08, 2016 | Technology

The PETRAS consortium of leading UK universities will work together over the next three years to explore critical issues in privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security.

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 an approximate £23m total.

The project is part of IoTUK, a £40m, three-year Government programme to advance the UK's global leadership in IoT and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies throughout businesses and the public sector.

The Hub is a consortium of nine universities led by University College London with 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 in substantial support and leverage from over 47 partners from industry and the public sector.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, commented: “In the not too distant future almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world. But, before this can happen, 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.”

Designed to help create and deliver real-world impact, the investment will support the Hub's work over the next three years. The research will focus on the challenges associated with the IoT, including the various interactions, policy and governance, beliefs and behaviours between people and the IoT systems.

Professor Jeremy Watson, Hub Director and Vice-Dean of UCL Engineering, said: “We will maximize the economic and societal opportunities of the Internet of Things by removing barriers to adoption.

“The UK has the potential to be the world's most supportive environment for the development and deployment of a safe and secure Internet of Things. We will raise the bar using innovative collaborative and interdisciplinary research methods.”

The PETRAS IoT Hub will focus on five themes:

•   Privacy and trust (Lead Universities: Warwick, Oxford)

•   Safety and security (Lead Universities: Imperial, Lancaster)

•   Harnessing economic value (Lead Universities: Imperial, Oxford)

•   Standards, governance and policy (Lead University: UCL)

•   Adoption and acceptability (Lead Universities: Warwick, Lancaster)


Across these themes, projects sharing core technologies will be linked in ‘constellations’:

•   Infrastructure (Lead Universities: UCL, Cardiff, Warwick, Oxford)

•   Health and care (Lead Universities: Imperial, Oxford)

•   Control systems and supply chains (Lead Universities: Warwick, Lancaster, UCL)

•   Ambient environments (Lead Universities: Lancaster, Surrey, Imperial, UCL, Edinburgh)

•   Identification (Lead Universities: Warwick, Oxford)

•   Transport and mobility (Lead Universities: Surrey, Lancaster, Imperial)

•   Design and behaviour (Lead Universities: Warwick, UCL, Oxford)

The initial 17 projects include large scale experiments at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; the cyber security of low power body sensors and implants; understanding how individuals and companies can increase IoT security through better day-to-day practices; and ensuring that connected smart meters are not a threat to home security.

The funding for the research is led by the RCUK Digital Economy Theme, through the EPSRC, in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

As part of this, Government (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department of Health) will invest up to £40m between 2015 to 2018 in research, innovation and enterprise, including this cities demonstrator; healthcare demonstrators; a research hub focusing on privacy, security and trust; and activity for IoT innovators and entrepreneurs, for example demonstrations of technology, advice and incubation for small businesses specialising in IoT hardware.

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