Forward thinkers at DTU High Tech Summit 2019: Paul Pop, Professor at DTU Compute. At DTU High Tech Summit 2019, Professor Paul Pop coordinates the involvement by the Nordic IIoT (Industrial Internet-of-Things) hub.
“The industrial interest in IoT is very strong, but many companies are in a state of confusion due to the high level of hype. Especially for small and medium-sized companies, it can be challenging to find their way,” says Paul Pop.
Now, Nordic academic groups within the full range of Internet-of-Things disciplines are ready to actively assist companies in IoT innovation. The Nordic IIoT (Industrial Internet-of-Things) hub covers a wide range of IoT fields including Machine Learning, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, Hardware Platforms, and Software Stacking. At DTU, researchers from DTU Compute and DTU Fotonik are strongly involved.
“A high degree of academic diversity is needed to match the demands of the industry. No single group is able to meet all inquiries any given company may put forward, but when we pool competencies from leading groups across the Nordic countries, we stand a good chance,” Paul Pop states.
The market cannot solve everything
Initiated in 2018, the hub joins eight groups from five Nordic universities: Aalto University (Finland), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Lund University (Sweden), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway), and DTU. The initiative is sponsored by Nordforsk under the Nordic Council of Ministers.
All eight groups in the hub already have various industry collaborations.
“The creation of the hub means that each group has extended its networking options. Often, it will be possible to suggest a new collaboration with companies that are part of the network of another group,” says Paul Pop.
While the overall trend of IoT continues to rise, the agreement soon ends once the discussion moves into the specifics. Many different platform technologies, communication systems, and software protocols compete.
“This is where a company typically can benefit from collaborating with academic groups. Some types of solutions will be outside the control of a company, and sometimes you cannot trust that your problem will be solved by the marketplace,” notes Pop.
Moving from cloud to fog computing
While initially, the focus in IoT innovation was mainly on creating solutions able to perform a given practical task, an increasing focus on cybersecurity and robustness is seen.
“For instance, the general telecommunications networks may be okay for a non-critical private consumer solution, but if you operate an industrial plant – possibly with the danger of explosions or other fatalities – the reliability is just not sufficient,” says Paul Pop.
In other words, an IIoT solution will often require more than just building a device. Understanding of the communication platform and the various vulnerabilities is also necessary.
“Typically, we would advise a company to think about solutions that are neither operated over the cloud, nor over a traditional local network, but something in-between,” Paul Pop explains.
This is known as fog computing – since fog is found closer to the ground than clouds.
“Fog computing, or edge computing as it is also sometimes called, is one of our top IoT competences here at DTU.”
“It’s no use closing your eyes to the changes. We need to constantly keep up and try to influence the process.”
Professor Jan Madsen, DTU Compute