Category Archives: IoT + ubiquitous computing

IoT Week 2012

IoT Week opening

Scuola Grande San Giovanni, Venice.

The designers have arrived at EU IoT Week. It was interesting to see that the formal launch of IoT Week started with a couple of presentations from Adam Greenfield and Usman Haque. Both speakers managed to convey the opposite story to that typically told in this forum.

Adam focused on why “Smart City” jargon typically occludes meaning and understanding of cities actually work and did a great job of picking apart smart city visions from IBM, Cisco, Siemens and Plan-it (e.g. re Songdo – “uneconomic to fulfil the promise, how much has been delivered?”) His main thesis was that seamless does not exist, cities do not have “goals” to be optimised and efficiency was often an administrational target but one that does not necessarily support the citizen. I need to look up the Scott book he referenced re Brasilia’s administrational view of the city – “Brasilia was designed to be viewed from above – the god view” – and I found myself nodding a thinking “what IoT / Ubicomp projects would Jane Jacobson be working on right know” when he spoke about how ”technology undermines the running of communities” re cctv cameras creating false view of safety (i.e. someone in authority is watching and taking care of the problem therefore i don’t need to do anything). We need to aim for spontaneous order from below – multiple use, multiple interactions.

So what did he suggest? Design for networked cities and citizens, built over time by an infinity of small actions in the context of ”this” city (not the “proximate” city) focused on social spaces, socially constructed.

Usman built on Adams presentation using examples of what people are building using The map of live sensor locations was probably the envy of many of the multi-million Euro research projects trying to set up sensor networks and highlighted the obvious benefits to be gained from “just getting on with it”. Their firehouse of data (30 million readings a day) is very impressive but highlighted a practical problem that is pre-occupying Usman at present. He has ”an issue with the data info knowledge wisdom pyramid” – the 30 million daily sensor updates does not mean the public are getting more insight, the data always needs to be used in some context.

He also queried if the focus on control structures for optimising the city managers role are actually helping the citizen – and asked if that is enough? He used the example of current air quality measurement systems typically set up for scientists and city managers. They measure at 3m high and give “neighbourhood” values but don’t take into account ground level. Whilst the residents can see a “metric” for their neighbourhood they cannot take any action or change their daily behaviour (for more information on work they are doing to try and work around this issue look at the AirQualityEgg project).

His advice? An open system enables people to innovate and take actions. To make people feel like they are part of the city – since they are the city. “You do not need consensus to make these city systems work” – there will be heterogenous systems and actors. He also referenced the work done the previous weekend at the IoT assembly in london – a fantastic call to action and well worth a read – i particularly liked ”if you create a new format at least one other independent entity must use it”

IoT Week EC expert group

EC Expert Group Mtg

On other matters we had another EC Expert Group mtg on IoT including insight from Karl Brincat, Visa on the technology behind new contactless payment products, the crypotgraphy involved and how the user, terminal and issuer responsibilities for security are emerging. The meeting also discussed the working papers of the various subgroups focused on:

  • identification,
  • privacy, data protection, security
  • ethics
  • IoT architectures
  • Standards
  • IoT governance architecture

And finally, EU funding 2013 agreed – look out for objective 1.4 smart cities – energy + mobility.

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IoT expert mtg 5

Xiaohui Yu from China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR) of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) gave a fascinating overview of IoT activity in China. The scale of their investment is well reported so it was useful to hear about the support coming via government, enterprise and research, and where those programmes are being implemented.

“IoT is deemed as an important part of the strategic emerging industries, as a measure for transformations of the mode of economic development, for developing low carbon economy and achieving green and sustainable growth, as a footstone of forging the information society and improving people’s life in China”

Pilot applications are being rolled out in infrastructure (100′s of smart grid trials completed, ITS in 17 provinces), upgrading the traditional industry (agriculture, industry, logistics – this “smart” approach across sectors is aimed at “transforming” the mode of economic development), to serve the people (healthcare and housing) and environment and safety (environment protection and energy saving).

Convergence of information and industrial transformation.

In addition to the different research programmes the MOF (Ministry of Finance) and MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) have just launched an IoT Development Special Fund aimed at technology development, industrialisation of the technology, application development and the creation of a “standard public service platform“. The label assigned to the latter has potential to be something quite interesting but it seems there is some uncertainty around what and how it will be delivered. One to watch though.

Florent Frederix reported on a presentation to the European Commission on IoT governance roadmap that was made the previous week to Neelie Kroes, Vice President and EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda. Governance refered to the “rules, processes and behaviour that affect the way in which powers are exercised particularly as regards openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence.” The five “principles of good governance” presented were:

1. Identification (network address of object and identification of the object) – issues are around maintaining interoperability of identifiers.
2. Privacy and Security (regulatory and technological) – issues being debated around privacy by default, the right to be forgotton and privacy by design, silence of the chips.
3. Ethics (implants, privacy in the home, accountability, liability of objects) – the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies are very interested in creating an independent report and are asking for feedback at
4. Decentralised architecture (extensions to physical infrastructures such as Smart Grid) – the quest for solutions offering more autonomy and stronger security.
5. The European IoT Norm (self- or co-regulation) – need to be compliant with EU Norm, future IoT recommendations and the legislative framework without the need for specific directive or EU legislation.

This translates into sub working groups in: identification, privacy + security, ethics IoT architectures, IoT standards, multi-stakeholder governance architecture.

A complete paper will be complete by the end of 2011 and will then go to public consultation. Impact assessments and consultations with the commission will occur through 2012 and expected adoption is in early 2013.

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3rd IoT European Conference

I recently attended the 3rd Annual Internet of Things Europe 2011: Bridging the divide between policy and reality at the Management Centre Europe, Brussels I was invited by Rob van Kranenburg from Council and attending as a representative of the IoT Expert Group and was invited to contribute to the panel on standardisation. The event was useful to get a feel for the temperature of IoT developments in Europe and the progress being made. I think this was best summarised by Mike Nelson (@mikenelson) on the culture of the room when viewed through the lens of West Coast / East Coast / Europe. Which was a different take on the opening quote “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” (Traveller, there is no road; you make your path as you walk).

Mike Nelson on the differences between west, east coast and Europe
fun, money and rights

Tech cultures
ready aim, aim, aim, aim….

This was partially down to the sessions of the event (below) but also reflected the nature of the community in the room. One message that struck home for me was a comment that 2-3 years ago it felt like we had a first starter advantage, but now we are moving to trying to keep up.

Societal challenges and applications for a smart and green planet
Where are we today? – The International Experience
Technological developments and business applications
Sources of funding for the IoT
Governance, privacy and security
Standards to support policy

The aim of the event was:

“The Internet of Things is finding its way into real applications and services. It is driven by smart city concepts, energy and mobility management and the quest for data to bring better foresight to scenarios for industry, government and citizens. The 3rd Annual Internet of Things Europe Conference will explore the major trend towards M2M and the merging of online and offline worlds. This event will facilitate the debate among all stakeholders on the discussion of the future of the Internet of Things and how it will re- shape our interactions with the real and virtual worlds in the coming years and how it will affect citizens in everyday life.”

Things I found interesting were Michael Nelson’s thoughts about IoT not needing a single “privacy by design” solution, rather creating the space for many different solutions to be brought to market. And on transparency, its about transparency of the systems to hold the data not necessarily transparency of the data itself.

The keynote presentation by Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU), Vice President and EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda, European Commission is below but focused on the governance needed and highlighted three issues of object identification, privacy and security. At a meeting at the OECD later that day she extended these to the “Compact for the Internet”: an Internet of Civic responsibility, One Internet, that is Multi-stakeholder, Pro-democracy, Architecturally sound, Confidence inspiring, and Transparently governed!

Peter Hustinx, Supervisor, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) made a great point that “fundamental to the successful deployment is trust”, ergo effective data protection is a critical success factor. Privacy of data and trust of consumer will be critical – whilst the “right to silence” is “hyperbole (and probably impractical)” it is getting the conversation started on privacy by design. This is a watch-it for us since we need to understand the privacy implications in the built environment that are in-directly caused by us observing and understanding the behaviour of people in buildings. He made this point nicely when he stated “I don’t see objects exercising rights” but went on to describe how the increasing ubiquity of these devices in our environment makes the distinction between us and the objects difficult.

Pilgrim Beart from AlertMe, made a really clear presentation of their consumer IoT application and stated that most IoT once installed is ambient and does not require “modal” interfaces that require our attention – therefore design for that. Great reminder.

Professor Julian Kinderlerer, President, European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies gave a good intro on ethics around IoT and identity “in applying right to be forgotten, we have to know what is that we have to forget.” – their group want your opinions. He also raised the interesting issue of ownership of data and knowledge using the example of ICKN at MIT – should info be mashed together to create swarm behavior? An alternative application could be Police and Insurance DB “sharing” scheme recently in the news.

But the most thought provoking talk for me was Usman Haque from Pachube with a very frank and open talk on the cultural differences between investment in IoT from a start-up perspective learned through 8 years of experience. Worth a flick through the slides covering the IoT market, Europe vs. US funding, and an intro to Pachube.

And slides from my panel intro are also on slideshare.

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system layers and science in schools

I had the pleasure last week of two activities taking me out the office. The first was a trip to East Barnet School to see the installation of a series of science interactives developed under Project Faraday. We were part of the team that created the blueprints for the designs so it was great to see them in situ. The installations are built into the fabric of the building with the aim of exploding science out of the laboratory and into everyday school life. They included 60 year clock, a 3 storey high drop zone and the robot lab.

East Barnet School - Project Faraday

The second was participating in a Do Projects “walkshop” led by Adam Greenfield. At the moment I am pulling together some thinking around urban informatics for an internal project at Arup so I was using the event to think about the current creases in the fabric of London. As the Facebook page says, the aim of the walkshop was to look for

“Places where information is being collected by the network. Places where networked information is being displayed. Places where networked information is being acted upon, either by people directly, or by physical systems that affect the choices people have available to them.”

It was a great 90 minutes and reminded me of the value and stopping and looking at your environment. A collection of photos on flickr highlight some of the observations we made.

Wireless traffic mgt? - Walkshop  - 09

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IoT Expert Group governance, privacy, m2m

The fourth meeting in Brussels of the EC expert group on the internet of things providing another interesting day of debate around the policy needed to support a humane yet commercial internet of things. On the agenda for the meeting were: continuing the review of a martyr paper on “governance”, a discussion on privacy and in particular the “privacy impact assessment” created through the RFID working party, and the implications of m2m standardisation.

The debate around the “Governance” martyr paper started, and didn’t really end, with a discussion on the definition of the internet of things that will be used in this groups final output. Several different versions have been proposed but there was a clear difference in opinion on whether the definition should have a human or technical focus. At the moment the definitions are technically oriented but there was a call to have the human at the center and themes such as “provide a secure and trusted platform” were proposed and with several objections to the definition relating to IoT operating “without the intervention of a human”. Those last six words alone were discussed for over an hour.

Taking a historical perspective, IoT is not the first technology with which we have discussed the balance between the damage it can do and the benefits it could deliver. I really liked the presentation by Marcel van Galen from Qiy who summed up this issue quite nicely with their video that introduces their business concept.

Qiy is a utility to collate your data. They are working with companies and public bodies who create data and enabling them to share your data with you. Has been in development for past five years but not clear on the split between how many companies send you a copy of the data and how many let only you store your data. One to watch.

Rudolf Van Den Berg – OECD – focused his M2M implications discussion on GSM and the implications of lock in to network operators. He showed an interesting diagram of M2M networks by type but focused on the fixed / dispersed quadrant.

IoT m2m networks by type

2G,3G,4G are best for dispersed applications – they have near global coverage and the SIM based approach means zero config (vs me setting up my wifi at this meeting which required me to authenticate – I didn’t bother to authenticate my phone or fitbit). But the downside here is that in the M2M environment the user is not the consumer, it is the service provider. And the M2M user has different requirements since they are often responsible for millions of SIMs (phones, traffic lights, sensors in the field etc.) meaning there are very practical problems with switching operators without swapping SIM cards (hence think of the lock-in operators currently have). Like international roaming their is a need to negotiate roaming with local operators. Even static objects like SIM based traffic lights suffer from network effects since at rush hour the cells will change shape to actively manage communications traffic.

His main plea was a need to liberalise the ability to network swap without changing SIM cards – this will create an open communications platform and increase the potential for radical innovation in applications as experienced on the internet. However, this shift of power from operator to consumer would have significant impact on the telecoms providers.

Sarah Spiekermann reported on the learning from the privacy debate in the recent EC RFID consultations. It focused on “privacy by design” – the Privacy Impact Assessment encourages companies to focus on how to think about privacy in the design stages of developing RFID applications. The PIA is setup to help companies creating RFID applications question the potential risks to personal data being compromised with their application so that they can answer the question “do I run the risk of not complying with the EU law?” (EU Directive on Data Protection).

Interesting to see how this would actually work in a commercial environment. The cost impact of PIA is not in terms of direct financial costs (it would be cheaper to pay fines if data protection was broken than pay for the PIA’s), it is more focused on the brand cost associated with fallout of wrong doing. In the future world of the internet of things how will we quantify the value of trust and brand over commercial necessity?

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smart pop up retail

Over the past couple of years we have done several workshops on the theme of retail of the future with collaborators such as the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and the Narrative Environment students at CSM. One of the consistent “future tech” ideas that popped out of those charettes would include some magic that allowed friendly robots to make “suggestions” that supported your consumption. Over the next couple of days we will be testing such robots in a temporary pop up retail installation at Arup Phase 2.

Po-Up Wine Shop

Gonzalo is a CASE PhD researcher who has been with the Foresight team for the past few years. He has just completed the major experimental component of this work at the OU in Milton Keynes and is now bringing the installation to the Arup offices at 8 Fitzroy Street to conduct a second “mini” experiment with a different cohort of test subjects. Gonzalo says

The focus of my research is the design of smart products and services and how these may change people’s behaviour. As computers become ever so small and disappear inside walls, tables and many everyday objects the way we interact with information changes radically. Like footprints in the snow our encounters with smart objects and spaces leave a permanent mark in the information substrate. From these traces smart artefacts can learn how, when and where they are used, and can react to that information.

If you are near the BT Tower in central London over the next couple of days please call in. Full details of both the installation and the research is over on makingsenseofspace.

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Aedas Network Campus Berlin

I was invited by Dietmar Leyk to participate in a workshop as part of the ANCB Metropolitan Technologies Programme in Berlin. The attendees were a mix of students from all over the world and experts from the fields of architecture, design, engineering and behaviourial science.

Aedas Network Campus

Sponsored by Busch Jaeger the workshop aimed to “create an opportunity map for the development of energy efficient intelligent building control and to examine its premises and consequences with regard to architecture, urban space and human behaviour”. There was an excellent bunch of people attending and some great presentations. My highlights are below:

Dietmar [leyk wollenberg architects] kicked off the presentation by introducing Villa Girasole “the house with no shadows”. What i loved here was the complexity of a whole house rotating around a central axis so that it tracked the sun but the UI was a single button.

Dietmar Leyk

Bernhardt Dorstel from Busch Jaeger showed how slow resource use can change by looking at the light scape of Los Angeles over a decade from 1908 to 2010 – it is quite phenomenal to see how our consumption of resources has increased. He showed some interesting work they have been doing in the Yas Hotel including collaborations with Bang & Olufson but I was most intrigued by one of his final comments “the user interface is the most important part of room / building energy optimisation”. I don’t think I have heard a controls company say that before.

Bernhardt Dorstel

Reto Wettach, Design Director Interaction Design, at Potsdam gave an excellent talk on strategies for eco-vis. I loved one of his example projects – “the [credit/debit] card scanner increases the resistance of sliding the card through the reader based on the cost of the purchase”. Was curious to hear about the move to more gestural interfaces when the interaction required has a spatial context (e.g. driving in a car) – interesting implications here for “imprecise” interaction with information objects.

Reto Wettach

Dieter Kunz from Sleepmedicine, Inst. of Physiology, Charite in Berlin [ and ] gave a really interesting talk about the psychobiology of light and darkness. Loads of interesting research results in the past ten years (schools kids being exposed to less than 100 lux for 50% of time in class room) and how lack of sleep is causing illness and disease etc. but the take away was that we need bright and blue light in the mornings and “unblue” light in the evenings (he showed some great graphs showing the brain is more receptive to doing cognitive work in the morning and this tails off through the day – see photo below). His best comment however was “I am not aware of any substance that can help deep sleep better than the correct light through the day”. We intuitively know that natural light is good, so why do we design bad lighting in our schools, offices etc.

Dieter Kunz

Winfried Heusler from Schuco walked us through examples of facades have evolved over the past 30 years and their influence on building performance. I liked his comment on the need to develop the structure of a building based on the context of its location and queried why we forget about the historically different shape of buildings worldwide. He also showed some interesting new product which embeds screens, phase change materials and / or PV into facade panels – they are then using the PV to feed DC grids in the building.

Winfried Heusler

Marcel Bilow from TU Delft extended the double skin facade story and showed some work they have been doing with Solarlux and Imagine Envelope to create a naturally vented office space. They interestingly reverted back to a very manual form of “teaching” the occupants of the building how to use the facade system (they created a poster) and commented that this approach has inherent scaling issues but that the client loved it. Marcel was also a winner on the competition being awarded that evening for his entry based on a windmill based solar shading device inspired by his observation that when you look at a rotating desk fan the eye can see through it.

Marcel Bilow

Next up was Jan Christoph Zoels from Experientia talking about enabling sustainable lifestyles by rethinking demand management. He gave an excellent overview of the Low2No project (of which Arup is a partner) and introduced the “c_life” work done to develop scenarios exploring how behaviour change may be realised. I loved the simplicity of the “three core smart metering activities” of check (mine), compare (with others) and act (on something).

Jan Christoph Zoels

Up last was Carlos Alarcon from Sauerbruch Hutton Architects. He spoke about the architecture of the Low2No project and some of the issues surrounding the pervasiveness of new media technology (the trend towards a new soft architecture) and the implications this has on the traditional divide between architecture and technology. Also of interest was the tension between the social vs economic goals of the project: flexible vs marketable, spatially generous vs spatial efficiency, innovation vs standardisation, and most interestingly public facilities vs private facilities.

Carlos Alarcon

I did a presentation on “unfolding resource use” which generated some really interesting discussions with the students in the breakouts – am looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of the workshop! More photos are on Flickr.

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Urban Internet of Things Tokyo

The Urban Internet of Things workshop kicked off in the IBM Japan Hakozaki Headquarters “Solution Centre” with several presentations and demos including Arup’s Engin and Shane and Mayra presenting a well received “TenderVoice / TenderNoise: A two-faceted web-based community journalism and acoustic ecology project“.

IBM think - Tokyo RFID Service Centre

The discussion part of the event took place in the afternoon / evening at Tokyo Hackspace with prompts from several participants including the LIVE Singapore! project which has some interesting data which is going to be made public in the near future.

Tokyo backspace

The conference itself had keynotes by IBM and Cisco (IPSO) which probably reflects the general perception of where IoT work is taking place at the moment. Norishige Morimoto, Director, IBM Research – Tokyo spoke about “Advanced Technology for Smarter Cities” giving some great examples of the work IBM are doing as part of their Smarter Planet work and focused on stressing the collaborative nature of these projects.

Evolution of a Smarter Planet

Patrick Wetterwald, Smart Grid and IoT Product Marketing for CISCO (and IPSO Alliance President / European Community IoT expert group member) gave an excellent presentation exploring the CISCO view of end to end IP connectivity for smart objects and the current transition from “business and consumer” focus of the web to it’s “industrialisation”. He touched on many of the issues that are being addressed by projects such as SENSEI and the work that the IPSO Alliance are doing to communicate the work of the IETF on building the standards that will influence the basis of the future internet.

Industrialisation of IoT

Interesting discussions – what is the infrastructure to support and nurture connectivity? how to connect resources? how to discover resources available? lots of talk about RESTful architectures [several examples presented but this is a good summary] and interesting mentions for Pachube,, dyser, MAGIC Broker 2

twitter feed from the event

photos on Flickr

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INTA 34 World Urban Development Congress

I presented our work on the Internet of Things at INTA34 yesterday. The theme was “Reinventing the Urban Environment” and discussion ranged from the philosophical to the practical and was interspersed with examples of work in progress (e.g. the nearby Port of Pasaia).


I had great feedback on the Drivers of Change cards (again several people came and told me they had a set) and also on the Internet of Things work (the EU funded Sensei project and the new TSB funded YCT project). I also have a pile of cards from people requesting more info on the Arup Smart City report.

My favorite speaker at the event was Clara Gaymard – President GE Europe – she gave an interesting perspective on the future of urban development and work they are doing to help cities deliver the necessary infrastructure. One line from her talk I liked was: “a child today wishes for a computer for their birthday, their parents wished for a scooter or a car – why? They both want to be connected.” and she also made reference to nice idea i had not heard about – City of Melbourne public transport example of smoothing peak load at no extra cost; they made public transport free before 7am. Would love to hear more about that if anyone has references.

INTA34 interview location

The event was held in the Kursaal Convention Centre in the beautiful San Sebastian where we were also treated to a reception at the excellent Aquarium. I was in Santander a few weeks ago, not many mile down the coast. I was surprised to learn that both cities are going for Cultural City status in 2016 – tough competition – but was impressed with San Sebastian’s preparations. Weird highlight of the trip was being interviewed on data shadows in front of surfers out in the bay.

The INTA reporting is blogged here, there a few videos here and tweeted here. Lots of photos are here.

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IoT Expert Group

Internet of things expert group mtg

For the past couple of days I have been in Brussels at the first meeting of the Internet of Things Expert Group. Introduced by Gerald Santucci and hosted by Manuel Mateo from EC DG INFSO the meeting introduced the background to the group and actions needed going forward. The focus of the group is to deliver policy recommendations to EU in 2 years time. The group has been established as a result of a previous expert group on RFID (2007-2009). It has stakeholders from a diverse range of industries (see list at bottom) and a framework for discussion has been presented as a result of EC research on this theme over past 5 years. The main action points include:

- governance (how is identification structured, who assigns ID, who is accountable, what decentralised architecture, socio economic implications such as access and exclusion)

- privacy and protection of personal data (communications on trust and privacy, “right to silence the chips”, “privacy by design” ie one of the primary technology blocks from outset not added in as required functionality later)

- trust, acceptance and security [individual | business] (following ENISA work on identification of risks)

- standardization (extend existing to cover IoT, develop / extend new given emerging IoT)

and the group will also:

- feed opinion into FP7 projects and CIP’s for innovation / pilot projects

- institutional awareness – inform other European institutions about IoT

- international dialogue – japan, china, korea, usa

- waste – pros and cons in recycling process

- focus on development – monitoring introduction of IoT tech (Eurostat starting to monitor)

On the latter point a comment was made on how to measure the output – there are many Smart Cities emerging but how do we assess or measure the resultant interventions. Given that comparitive assessment is hard (e.g. Santander vs Amsterdam, London vs Melbourne) what metrics should we use?

Organisations represented in the Expert Group:

ETSI European Telecom Stds Inst

CEN European committee for standardisation

EPOSS European Tech Platform on Smart Systems Integration


UEAPME European assoc of Craft and SME’s

EDPS European data protection supervisor

ERTICO Intelligent Trans Sys and Services for Europe


ENISA European Network and Info Security Agency

SICS Swedish Inst of Comp Sci


COCIR European Coord Committee of Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT industry

ETUC European trade union confederation


Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection

ANEC European Consumer Voice in Standardisation

Fraunhofer IML


BSI Federal Office for Information Security

ESIA European Semiconductor Industry Assoc

Sensor Universe

European Digital Rights

CONET Cooperating objects network of Europe

ONCE Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos Espanoles

BEUC European Consumers Organisation

ERRT European Retail Round Table

Business Europe

CNRFID Centre National RFID

Internet of Things Council

Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries

ETNO European Telecom Network Operators Assoc

IERC IoT European Research Cluster

Universitat Zurich (UZH)

IPSO Alliance

ECTP European Construction Technology Platform

Information of interest which I can share as I travel through this project will be tagged on delicious.

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