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ETSI group publishes spec for context information



Initiative is aimed at producing ‘lingua franca’ for software platforms to cooperate in smart cities

A group within European standards organisation ETSI has published a specification for sending or requesting data and its context in the development of smart cities.

The ETSI Industry Specification Group for cross-cutting Context Information Management (ISG CIM) has released the GS CIM 004 specification to define an API for context information management. It said this should enable close to real time access to information from different sources.

The specification is aimed at providing a context for data, such as meaning, related information, source or licensing.

ETSI said that groups working on smart city developments should be among the first to benefit, pointing to the seven spheres of relevant information:

  • Open data: air quality, street maps.
  • Proprietary data: car parking availability, advertising of events.
  • Internet of things: building sensors, water management sensors.
  • Mobile application inputs: citizen complaints, photos of accident sites.
  • Source of the information: licensing of valuable data, labelling of privacy protected data, information on measurement quality or period of validity.
  • Usage information: for optimising, debugging and relationships analysis.
  • Artificial intelligence or machine analysis of that data to create performance measures, new recommendations and conclusions on which city managers can act.

Chair of the Industry Specification Group, Dr Lindsay Frost, said: "Knowing the source, meaning and reliability of data is absolutely critical in making decisions, especially where legal liability exists. After many discussions with various stakeholders, we confirmed that sharing data can benefit all parties as long as people - and software systems - know they are talking about the same things.

“The new ETSI ISG CIM specification allows systems to reference open definitions instead of assuming in-house definitions."

Platform exchanges

There are currently thousands of ways to exchange data between software platforms, each with special benefits and usage. ETSI said the new specification is not aimed at replacing them, but offers a ‘lingua franca’ allowing the platforms to cooperate.

This should help to overcome some barriers in the way of smart city solutions.

Vice-chair of the group Christophe Colinet said: "Cities are looking for a minimum of interoperability focused on the two main layers of a smart city information system architecture: the lower one, between sensors and data storage, and the upper one to manage this data and make it useful for citizens.

“As we recently experienced in Bordeaux, oneM2M, ETSI partnership project, already provides a standards based glue between sensors and the data storage system. I’m convinced the new ETSI ISG CIM specification, which addresses the upper level, will close the loop and enable the open and sustainable smart city information system architecture users are looking for.”

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