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Cities and companies combine for open source

The alliance sets out to free customers from dependence on proprietary technologies

Alliance wants to untangle the technical details involved in deploying smart networks
Alliance wants to untangle the technical details involved in deploying smart networks

An international alliance of market leaders from across the smart city, smart energy and IoT network sectors have announced plans to develop an open source, multi-transport wireless networking technology and data model with the aim of eliminating dependency on proprietary solutions.


Smart Internet of Things (IoT) projects for managing streetlights, parking, traffic, waste collection, power grids, metering and other applications are introduced continuously by cities or utilities around the world.


But according to the newly formed uCIFI Alliance, despite this proliferation of projects, network owners face a hurdle to either integrate multiple proprietary systems and APIs or deal with a dependence on single-source suppliers for network hardware or software layers.


Meeting during the IoT Tech Expo Europe in Amsterdam, the alliance said its goal is to free end customers of their dependence on single-source suppliers and to ‘drastically’ reduce the complexity for device suppliers and integrators to deliver data and services in a consistent manner regardless of the underlying network.


“Bringing smart technologies to the world’s municipalities and power-and-water suppliers allows tremendous efficiency in delivery of services, while dramatically increasing convenience for end users,” said Yannick Delibie, co-founder and CTIO of Kerlink, an end-to-end network solutions provider dedicated to the IoT and a founding industrial member of uCIFI.


“But cities and utilities often have to untangle a host of unnecessarily complicated technical details to deploy their smart networks, which delays launch and adds cost. The uCIFI Alliance is committed to promoting simple, cost-efficient, open source wireless networking references to unlock the full potential of these smart networks.”


With LPWAN networks, each device supplier has its own data format, cloud and API. In addition, only proprietary solutions exist with sub-GHz long-range mesh networks.


The founding companies of the uCIFI Alliance, and the cities and utilities that support this open initiative, share a common vision that these markets will be opened up if cities and utilities have the choice among competing but interoperable vendor products based on an open source code base.


Based in Beaverton, Oregon, US, the non-profit alliance will specify a unified data model and interface across multiple IoT networks, including LoRaWANTM, NB-IoT and an open-source sub-GHz long-distance mesh network that shall also be specified by the alliance.


This will provide both device-to-device and device-to-cloud IoT communication to cities and utilities independently from any proprietary vendor. In order to provide a truly open source implementation of the uCIFI specification, the alliance has chartered the Newticity project under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.


Runtime, a global IoT networking provider, is leading the implementation of this free and open source wireless reference stack.


Other founding industrial members of the uCIFI are: EDMI, provider of smart energy solutions, and Schréder, a smart street lighting provider. They were joined in the alliance launch by Engie and ST Engineering Electronics and end-customers such as Sibelga (Belgium), the Brussels utility, Auckland Transport (New Zealand), and Nantes Metropole (France).


“We are really excited about uCIFI. It will enable EDMI to offer a new generation of smart energy solutions, providing our customers with an alternative option for connecting their smart devices both in the utility and IoT space,” added How New Seng, CEO at EDMI.


“With more bandwidth and an even more reliable network, we will provide more data and more services to our customers. Joining forces in the uCIFI Alliance with other IoT market leaders makes it possible to develop the only open and interoperable sub-GHz mesh network, requested by many of our customers.”


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