Trusted Data Sharing with Linked Data in the Internet of Things (IoT)

This post intends to give the reader a perspective on how Jolocom brings trusted data sharing to the AGILE IoT Gateway (AGILE is a H2020 project). It should provide essential value to the user, not only but also in context of the internet of things, and not least to benefits from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The original idea of the World Wide Web

To start with, the vision of Jolocom aligns with the original idea of the World Wide Web, which was distributed: everyone would have their own node (e.g. home page), everyone would share their content (e.g. blog posts), and everyone would own their own data. The web consisted of nodes connected through links with no center. Jolocom wants to help reclaiming this vision that everyone owns their own node (digital identity) and that every node can communicate with any other node, with no intermediation (e.g. centralized platform).

The dominating power of a few

Today a handful of companies dominate vast parts of the web’s activities – Facebook for social networking, Google for searching, Paypal for payments or eBay for auctions, Samsung/IBM for IoT – and they actually own the data their users have provided and generated. Ergo these companies have unprecedented insight and power over us. They can influence and nudge us without our knowledge, which gives them not only a huge competitive advantage, but also interferes with fundamental values of society and the right for privacy.

Social Linked Data (Solid) and Blockchain (Ethereum)

Jolocom uses a decentralized software architecture that is very promising. It was initiated by Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web and gave it to us as a gift, free and open source. His new project is called Solid (“social linked data”) and it allows you to own your own data, while also using it with only the applications you want to use. With Solid, you simply store your data in your own Personal Data Store (PDS; in Jolocom’s case: a Solid Server), which is hosted wherever you wish. At the core of Solid is the WebID, which Jolocom integrates with the Ethereum blockchain, to build a self-sovereign digital identity that allows you to represent yourself and to enrich your data with semantic meaning. Besides that and storing data, it also lets other applications ask for your data. Solid authenticates the DApps (Decentralized Applications) through Access Control Lists (ACLs) and if you’ve given access permission to the requester of the data, the Solid server delivers it.

Here’s a concrete example.You might store data from your IoT devices or sensors in your own PDS: the sort of data about yourself that would normally be uploaded directly from your IoT device to a third party. That way if someone built a new DApp, to offer specialized services to people, you could join it by using your WebID. To share information with others (individuals or organisations), you simply give them permission to access the appropriate information in your PDS. The data in your PDS would remain your own, in every sense of the word: fully under your control, stored where you choose, and usable only by an Organization’s WebID that you’ve given permission to.

The fantastic thing about Solid is that it does all this without having to centralize information in hands that we can’t- and too often also should not – fully trust.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Users are becoming increasingly aware of the need and importance for strong data rights. Governments are slowly adapting to this, with the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation as the first move towards a market in which businesses will have to adapt with new business models and technical infrastructure. With the decentralized web as an answer to these needs, users will be able to use services they want to interact with, data will be stored in their own private location, and they will be able to switch between them. This will allow and encourage for a market with a significantly lowered barrier to innovate, one in which collaboration between players is much favourable over competition. Without the main competitive advantage of data, network effects and vendor lock-in will become virtually obsolete. We help businesses create and participate in collaborative decentralized ecosystems where the value generated by its services benefits the ecosystem as a whole.

GDPR compliance is now mandated by May 2018. This means businesses are now required to show exactly how the data they collect is used and enables them to freely take this data with them to different services.

Conclusion

Social Linked Data with its decentralized architecture has the properties to profoundly enrich trust, data portability, and privacy. At the same time it will step up usability to a whole new level for both the user and service providers, while simultaneously becoming compliant to GDPR.

Author: Joachim Lohkamp, Jolocom

Participate in the IoT Developer Survey 2017

The third annual IoT Developer Survey, hosted by Eclipse IoT, has just been launched. In previous years it has provided interesting insight about how developers are building IoT solutions. If you’re interested in last year’s results, you can view them here.

The AGILE consortium is pleased to be one of the partners supporting this initiative again this year. Please take the time to complete this 5-8 minute survey.

 

Gateway Management

Remote Gateway Management: Benefits, and how we make it happen

Key features of the AGILE gateway include the ability to provide data and device management, execution of Internet of Things (IoT) applications and, importantly, communicate with the Cloud to enable a plethora of use-cases. But there is also features that are provided “under the hood”, features such as security.

Resin.io: a not-so-silent force working alongside the AGILE gateway

For AGILE to enable user application deployment, remote updates, and monitoring of connected gateways, we are customising and will utilise a software technology built by one of the project partners called Resin.io – it is a Remote Gateway Management interface that is deployed in the Cloud, and has, amongst others, a local component that will be running on each gateway called “Agent”.

Resin.io Container used in AGILE: Enables remote management features

The Resin.io Agent works on container level, with elevated privileges to manage both the underlying Operating System (OS), but also the user-space (any applications installed). In simple scenarios, it downloads the changed layers of any application container images, stops the old versions of those applications, and starts the new ones. As the process is ongoing, you can see the overall progress of the process in a dashboard. It is fully interactive, and allows clicking on any specific gateway devices to see more detailed information about the device, such as logs.

Dashboard

Staying up-to-date: A dashboard allows you to see the current status of a gateway

The Agent, which we are customising for use in pilots and use-cases adopted by AGILE, also contains the necessary components to keep a persistent, always-on connection to the Cloud environment which controls it (over secure VPN, as we are paranoid about security!). The Agent allows, upon authorisation, anything from updating the AGILE gateway on the fly, restarting modules and applications, adding functionality as well as providing monitoring information (such as OS logs) automatically and upon request. It also enables a streamlined approach to defining environment variables or other configuration options on the gateway.

Security, as always, is paramount

By far the most important feature is its ability to receive over-the-air updates. And we believe this is extremely important on any IoT application for security reasons. Imagine your gateway, end-devices and deployed applications suffering from a bug whilst you are unable to deploy a fix remotely – and now imagine if it’s not an issue with your own code, but rather an urgent OS security vulnerability! A popular real-world example of this is the U.S. Traffic Safety Administration car recall announcement, one from Tesla Motors, and one from GM. Both are related to problems that could cause fires. Tesla’s fix can be conducted as an “over the air” software update and doesn’t require owners to bring their cars to the dealer (more on this on the Wired article here). And there are recent cases of cameras being hijacked, armies of devices used for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks… so let’s just say that it’s important for us to “have the users covered” as part of the AGILE project.

Of course, there is even more urgent need for these solutions to be secure (after all, any device which is why we are dedicating months of work, and the expertise of research and industry partners, in making sure the hardware and software stack behind AGILE is secure, end-to-end.

What does the management interface it look like?

As one our principles is to make things as easy as possible for our users, we are utilising the latest standards in Web development, User Interface (UI) design, and User Experience (UX).

Here is what you should expect to see once you get your hands on an AGILE gateway:

Device management interface: Environment Variables, Terminal, Actions (e.g. reboot)

Gateway Management

Multi-gateway management: Information on OS updates, availability, monitoring/logs

Let us know your thoughts

The AGILE consortium comprises pioneering partners in hardware and software for IoT. Resin.io has been built to bring the Cloud deployment workflow to the world of embedded devices, and the customisation for use in AGILE with an AGILE-specific gateway management system, is no exception. Along the lines, we discover and assimilate interesting ideas from the Cloud or embedded worlds, or even invent ideas that only apply to the new paradigm the project represents.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and we are very keen to hear from the community about features they would like to see on the Remote Gateway Management interface. The consortium partners are organising pilots that will allow IoT device manufacturers (devices that will be controlled by the AGILE gateway through its integrated network modules), as well as developers and end-users to get hands-on with our early prototypes and final hardware gateway.

Author
Georgios Michalakidis, R&D Manager, Resin.io

Join us in Berlin for the IoT-EPI Challenge: Solving social problems using IoT

We are excited to announce the participation of AGILE at the upcoming IoT-EPI challenge event in Berlin this March. The event is open to IoT enthusiasts and entrepreneurs with creative minds who believe that technology and innovation can be applied for social good. Three main challenges are looking for the right candidates to combine the available IoT technologies (from IoT-EPI projects like AGILE) to develop successful use cases.

AGILE is part of the Retail: Scan-to-share challenge. We are working together with TagItSmart and BigIoT projects to provide retail shoppers the ability to identify which supermarket foods are about to expire before purchasing them. The objective is to provide it to individuals in need. Join us in Berlin to discuss how we can use the technology and develop such an interesting platform and user ecosystem that can be self-sustained and scalable.

If you are interested to join (participation is free), learn more on how you can use the AGILE gateway and IoT technologies for making social impact, and qualify for prizes, apply here until the February 8

Event Date: March 17, 2017
Event Place: Ahoy, Berlin, Germany
More info: website and Twitter @agile_iot

Recap: Face-to-Face and GetD Event

Last week the AGILE project team was in Berlin for a face-to-face meeting and for the GETDecentralized event. Here is a brief recap of what happened.

Day 1 & 2: Face-to-Face

The team met July 20 and 21. It was great to see the familiar faces and discuss in person again! There were many fruitful discussions and great demos presented by each partner. We’re well on our way after half a year and we look forward to sharing more details with you very soon!

Athens IoT Meetup – April 15

The fourth Athens IoT Meetup will take place on April 15. We’re happy to bring a fourth meetup to the Greek community. The talks will be presented by International speakers and major IoT drivers from the following companies Create-Net, Eclipse Foundation, INRIA, Jolocom, and Libelium.

Join us in Athens and meet the experts who make Internet of Things a reality worldwide. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn and network other IoT enthusiasts.

Featured talk list:

  • Introduction to the AGILE project: open source modular gateway for the IoT
    Charalampos Doukas, Create-NET
  • Building the Internet of Things with open source and Eclipse IoT projects
    Benjamin Cabé, Eclipse Foundation
  • Build your IoT project with Libelium devices: from sensors to the cloud
    Libelium
  • RIOT and the evolution of operating systems for IoT devices
    Emmanuel Baccelli, INRIA
  • Manage your data across platforms
    Joachim Lohkamp, Jolocom

Complete agenda details are available here.