The Internet of Things and the Connected Vehicle

Bill Ash - Strategic Technology Program Director for IEEE SA

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We have all heard claims that in the near future there will be at least 50 billion connected devices. These devices will exchange data in some form or another, whether it’s via wired or wireless technology, or whether it’s autonomously or intelligently sent.

We have also heard many definitions of what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, from data exchange between two devices to many devices connected to an enterprise-wide IT network. In many instances, smart grid, smart cities, eHealth, cloud computing, and the connected vehicle are all examples of IoT.

We are seeing more deployments of renewable energy systems to meet the growing demand of energy consumption and the reduction of carbon emissions. With these larger deployments and higher penetration of renewables comes the demand for better communication and control systems to maintain a stable environment for providing energy.

In the same regard, there has also been an increase in the deployment of electric vehicles (EV), both fully electric and plug-in hybrids. There are continuing discussions around the charging of these vehicles, the power grid infrastructure, and the use of these vehicles as a means to feed back into the power grid as a generation source. In consideration of larger deployments of these vehicles and their use, similar to the renewables, a need for better communications and control systems is evident.

If we look at the technology being used to connect a device to an information network, or purely to another device, we also need to look at what technologies have survived the test of time. We should consider how the adapting of existing technologies with the integration of the next generation of technologies will coexist and interoperate, especially giving how massive IoT will be.

A prime example of this is IEEE 2030.5™, IEEE Adoption of Smart Energy Profile 2.0 Application Protocol Standard. The standard does not create anything new by means of new technology, but uses technology that has survived the test of time for the integration of new applications and technology. During the creation of IEEE 2030.5, the Working Group wanted to be link layer agnostic, allow for internetworking, and to take advantage of other consumer technology already available such as smart phones, tablets, and other connected consumer devices.

Three main components were leveraged to achieve this goal. The first was deciding on the use of internet protocol (IP). The use of IP allowed for the mixing of various link layer technologies (wired or wireless) and is used by many connected consumer devices and routers to ease convergence and architecture changes. This allows for smart phones to use IEEE wireless area network (IEEE 802.11™) to speak to both a smart meter using low data rate wireless smart metering (IEEE 802.15.4g™) and a connected charging vehicle using PLC (IEEE 1901™).

The second component was the use of the web protocol HTTP. This has a large ecosystem of users and developers, which lends itself to a strong knowledge base and ease of implementation and adaptations. This lowers the likelihood of existing technology being left behind as new technology is developed and deployed.

The last component was the use of TLS 1.2 (HTTPS). Using TLS1.2 allowed for end to end security to be facilitated. In addition, it has a proven record from use in the banking industry.

So what does this all mean? Because IEEE 2030.5 leveraged existing standardized technology, the application for energy management for EV/PHEV, homes, and renewable energy systems becomes a lot less onerous and the application and use by other control systems environments becomes possible. And although the term IoT was not around during the initial development of IEEE 2030.5, the applicability to IoT and its verticals, like the connected vehicle, are clear.

While no one has a crystal ball, we can use lessons learned and experience gained from the past to move into the future. As we experience the evolution of IoT and its verticals, like connected vehicles, leveraging existing time-tested technology for the application of new technology can ease the implementation and adaption into new markets.

What are your thoughts and ideas on the intersections between IoT and other time-tested technologies? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.