Antonis Litke is a Senior Research Engineer at ICCS, part of the National Technical University of Athens, and a technical partner on the M-Sec project. We caught up with Antonis to get up to speed on their latest developments in blockchain applications, how their work fits within the wider M-Sec framework at what the associated challenges are for ICCS.
Thanks for joining us Antonis! Please begin by telling us a little more about ICCS and your mission.
The Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS), as part of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) of the National Technical University of Athens was founded with a “charta” to support the performance of the quality research, development activities and the provision of scientific service to private and public bodies. The mission of ICCS is the deployment, the realisation and the growth of the research priorities of EC research funding via the competitive calls for such proposals that the European Commission has instigated. In turn, its purpose has been to build a research personal base so as to conduct state-of-the-art research and improve the research laboratory and equipment base and infrastructures of the school (ECE). Our laboratory has accumulated over the last 15 years significant expertise in the areas of cloud and distributed computing, blockchains, mobile and edge computing as well as many other topics related to the M-Sec project.
What role does the requirements, architecture and hyper connected smart city play within the wider M-Sec framework?
The requirements analysis is the starting point of every ICT project and plays an even more important role when we talk about a research project. What is important here is to have a group of well-defined requirements from all relevant stakeholders of a future hyper-connected smart city: public authorities, city officials, citizens, IoT providers and many others who form what we call the “smart city ecosystem”. M-Sec has a very challenging goal: to design an architecture by linking layers of security, trust and privacy in order to increase the level of security in the future hyper-connected cities. Through this process, by gathering and analysing a multitude of requirements, we will be able to see across all layers of communication in the future IoT infrastructures and define threat models and security measures that will be beneficial for these infrastructures. The M-Sec architecture needs to be based on a wide spectrum of protocols methodologies and tools that can offer security across all layers of communication and through an end-to-end approach. In the project we have already identified a group of technology assets brought by the Consortium partners and these assets will be integrated and orchestrated in a way to provide a meaningful solution for supporting innovative smart city services powered by the security framework of the project.
What developments have ICCS been focusing on recently?
ICCS is the partner who will bring the technological framework of blockchain through which the decentralised nature of the project architecture will be implemented. In particular, our team is exploring Hyperledger-based and Ethereum-based (e.g. Quorum) blockchain frameworks along with a suite of smart contracts that will ensure the implementation of the M-Sec IoT marketplace. Moreover, we are exploring innovative trust and reputation models which will be implemented alongside the blockchain framework in order to realise a new dimension on how the future IoT infrastructures will operate and monetise data. The infrastructures of the future smart cities will encompass both open and proprietary data and it is of high importance to offer new ways for monetising such data in these decentralised architectures. This can be achieved, among other technologies, through blockchains which increase the level of trust and enable the automated collaboration between devices and data that are being shared in these infrastructures.
What are the risks involved in the development of M-Sec? How are ICCS working to overcome those risks?
There are many risks in such complex projects such as M-Sec. I would consider them mainly as challenges rather than risks. In particular, we would like to have at the end of the project a platform of services and tools which will enhance the privacy and security of communication in the future hyper-connected smart cities. GDPR compliant services and flexible architectural instantiation for achieving workflow of services on top of security elements is something which we can see as very important challenges that our project has to handle. As we have two communities, one from the European side and one from the Japanese side, it is a very important aspect to have a reference implementation which facilitates the free flow of non-personal, non-sensitive data through the M-Sec paradigm. The vision of the project is to enable new ways and new modalities of sharing data across highly distributed IoT infrastructures and provide the means for innovative services and new business models and exchange of data. We still have many things to do and to implement. By facilitating the collaboration, the research and the integration of the technology assets through lean and well elaborated integration cycles with central focus on implementing the very interesting project use cases, we are on a good track to produce the very promising results of the project.
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