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ETSI specification sets smart standard

The new specification allows systems to reference open definitions instead of assuming in-house definitions

Specification helps cities know the source, meaning and reliability of data
Specification helps cities know the source, meaning and reliability of data

The ETSI Industry Specification Group has announced its first specification which aims to act as a “lingua franca” or common language for context exchange in smart cities.


Group specification CIM 004 defines a simple way to send or request data and its context such as the meaning, related information, source or licensing of that data.


According to ETSI, there are currently thousands of ways to exchange data between software platforms, each with special benefits and usage.


The new specification does not try to replace them but instead offers a lingua franca allowing the platforms to cooperate. Simplicity, reliability and ease of implementation have been the focus of the group, to help lower barriers to deployment.


Smart cities will be the first ones to benefit from this specification, said ETSI.


“Knowing the source, meaning and reliability of data is absolutely critical in making decisions, especially where legal liability exists,” said Dr Lindsay Frost, chairman of ETSI ISG CIM.


“After many discussions with various stakeholders, we confirmed that sharing data can benefit all parties as long as people -- and software systems -- know they are talking about the same things. The new ETSI ISG CIM specification allows systems to reference open definitions instead of assuming ‘in-house’ definitions.”


Group specification CIM 004 defines a standard application programming interface (API) for context information management (CIM) enabling close to real-time access to information coming from many different sources.


The new specification seeks to address the strong synergies between “seven spheres of information” currently interacting in a smart city, as shown by these examples:

  • open data: air quality, street maps
  • proprietary data: car parking availability, advertising of events
  • Internet of Things: building sensors, water management sensors
  • mobile application inputs: citizen complaints, photos of accident sites
  • source of the information: licensing of valuable data, labelling of privacy-protected data, information on measurement quality or period of validity
  • usage information: for optimising, for debugging, for relationships analysis
  • artificial intelligence or machine analysis of that data to create performance measures (KPIs), new recommendations and conclusions on which city managers can act.

“Cities are looking for a minimum of interoperability focused on the two main layers of a smart city information system architecture: the lower one, between sensors and data storage, and the upper one to manage this data and make it useful for citizens,” added Christophe Colinet, vice-chair of ETSI ISG CIM and smart city projects’ leader in Bordeaux, France.


“As we recently experienced in Bordeaux, oneM2M, ETSI partnership project, already provides a standards-based glue between sensors and the data storage system. I’m convinced the new ETSI ISG CIM specification, which addresses the upper level, will close the loop and enable the open and sustainable smart city information system architecture users are looking for.”


ETSI is a not-for-profit organisation with more than 800-member organisations worldwide, drawn from 66 countries and five continents. Members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government and public organisations.


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