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EC Report on IoT and Edge Computing Workshop

The international 11 September 2020 workshop on Internet of Things and Edge Computing discussed the opportunities that the seismic shift from Cloud to Edge offers for Europe. The workshop provided insights into the requirements for orchestration with cloud services, the importance of integrating connectivity and computing with AI-based reasoning and automation. It highlighted the need for an Open Industrial Platform for Cloud-Edge Orchestration addressing the technology challenges and competitive impact for European stakeholders in light of their role in a data economy.

The workshop on IoT and Edge Computing: Future directions for Europe, organised by the Coordinated Support Action (CSA) Next-Generation Internet of Things (NGIoT) together with the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI), brought together stakeholders – over 300 registered participants from industry, academia and SMEs from Europe and beyond – to share views on the emerging needs and opportunities for European Edge IoT, learn from key voices in industry and public sectors, and to identify the most promising paths forward. Within the 25 speeches and presentations, over 170 participants were able to listen to a discussion on the opportunities and challenges of IoT and Edge computing in Europe, as well as the current position of European stakeholders.

As this topic is highly prioritised by the European Commission, the commission wrote a short report to pinpoint the highlights and results of the workshop. The following section is a condensed version of the report, for futher interest please visit https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/building-ecosystem-where-iot-edge-and-cloud-converge-towards-computing-continuum .A more detailed report is also available as PDF at the NGIoT project’s website: https://www.ngiot.eu/iot-and-edge-computing-future-directions-for-europe/ 

The findings of the webinar that support Europe’s key policy priorities for digital autonomy and the Green Deal

  • Strategic autonomy in key industrial sectors:

As a response to the growth in IoT-led sectors such as industrial and robotics, automotive, aerospace and defence, telecoms, and healthcare, the combination of 5G connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT) is highlighted as critical elements of an open strategic autonomy as key to developing the European digital economy. 

  • Edge computing drives decentralisation and decarbonisation in support of the Green Deal:

Decentralisation triggers a structural and regulatory change in key sectors like smart energy, intelligent infrastructure and the ‘from farm to fork’ paradigm to achieve flexibility, agility to match demand-supply, and responsiveness. Systemic changes are a key part of the Green Deal, for making sure Europe reaches the ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions across many different sectors of our society and economy.

The opportunity for Cloud-Edge-IoT

  • By bringing responsiveness and innovation to where it is needed, Intelligent endpoint devices and systems have the ability to not only connect with one another, but also to enable rapid experimentation, real-time insights, and align to deliver services on demand for better operations and increase competitive position. 

  • Furthermore, as intelligent edge devices take on critical analytics and decision-making tasks, the doors open to innovation and new ways of service delivery on the spot, and thus sensors and devices monitoring and managing is forming the new central nervous system of the economy.

The challenges for intelligent edge computing

  • Need for an operating system to enable real-time capabilities

  • A paradigm shift for IoT – from monitoring to outcome-driven platforms

  • The orchestration of resources to form a computing continuum

  • Striving for leadership in an open industrial platform for Cloud-Edge orchestration

  • Open up experimentation and innovation for SMEs

  • A Single Market and trustworthy infrastructure for Edge Computing

  • Costs, e.g. in relation to large amounts of devices for building solutions

  • Investment and policy cycles

  • Security, especially while operating in multi-domain realities

Main recommendations and key takeaways from the IoT community

  1. Europe should build on its strengths: sensors, applications and systems, maintain autonomy in these sectors and master the value chain (especially the digital part).

  2. Edge computing is a key technology for IoT and 5G/6G to support applications with more stringent requirements, zero-latency, higher capacity and massive connected devices.

  3. Edge computing transforms IoT. The Cloud Edge renders IoT near-real-time and interactive. With the advent of 5G combined with Edge, IoT is moving from passive monitoring to interactive control and intelligence.

  4. Convergence of technologies is key, as between AI and IoT.

  5. The move to more intelligent devices needs to be supported; learning capabilities should be integrated in the devices. AI and Machine Learning are Key Enabling Technologies in this respect.

  6. The orchestration of the complexity is crucial; Future research challenges should cover open distributed Edge computing architectures.

  7. The EU needs to adopt a human-centric and inclusive approach to IoT. The Edge should be explored from Europe’s strength of diversity and as an opportunity to develop IoT in an inclusive manner, including socially, urban/rural and enterprise/SME.

  8. Data security and confidentiality can partially be addressed by keeping the local data at local level (Edge) and by ensuring data sovereignty.

  9. Europe should focus on standards and interoperability, strive for independence in standards and protocols, as well as harmonisation across Member States.

  10. Avoid fragmentation: Edge computing is currently being tackled by multiple fora and standardization bodies from different perspectives and an effort to find technical synergies and convergence should be done to avoid fragmentation. Collaboration across verticals, sectors (public-private) and borders is also key

  11. Future communication services should offer higher reliability and flexibility in an autonomous way in a changing environment, and connectivity will have to involve even higher data intensity for AI based network management, besides the data for AI execution at the Edge.

  12. Expected future evolution of Edge computing: Swarm computing, brings a lot of potential combining connectivity and Edge computing together with multi-Cloud computing based in a collaborative environment.

  13. Edge computing, i.e. the de-localisation of Cloud resources, may bring new business opportunities for (small) localised players and help the raise of new business models