AFCEA DC Internet of Things Working Group — Standards & Interoperability Discussion

In 2015, AFCEA DC received guidance from our Executive Advisory Board that they would like AFCEA DC to take a leadership effort in bringing Industry and Government together to solve some of the biggest challenges related to the Internet of Things in the Federal Government. 4 months later, our Internet of Things Working Group executed an awesome summit at the National Press Club, with a keynote from Dr. John Pellegrino, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Strategic Integration, and 3 amazing panels on Mission Ready IoT. The summit was well attended with over 250 registrants and 40% government attendance and received a lot of attention on social media and the press.

This year, the IoT Working Group for AFCEA DC is back and bigger than ever. We meet on the second Thursday of every month and tackle some of the biggest challenges related to the Internet of Things in the Federal Government deployments. Based on feedback from the working group, the topics we are addressing this year are:

1. Setting the Standard — Standards and Interoperability in IoT

2. Secure & Protect — IoT Cyber Security

3. Where to Start, What’s Involved — Building an IoT Solution

4. Building on Success — Use Cases and Deployments in IoT in Federal Government

On November 10th, the IoT Working Group started these discussions by addressing the Standards & Interoperability for IoT. There was a strong focus on following the lead of academia and government standards bodies when implementing IoT. Jeff Tennenbaum, Engineer at IBM, discussed the importance of implementing IoT based on the NIST guidelines and Randy Clark, VP of Sarcos Robotics, brought up the importance of the FCC and their work with 3GPP and IEEE on setting the standards for communication links on IoT deployments. These agencies are tasked with developing and setting the best practice recommendations for IoT and they must be taken into consideration when designing the solution.

Additionally, Rick Hansen, of Capital Technology University, reminded us to look to academia to solve not only the challenges of developing standards but of interoperability as well. Capital Technology University is doing this now along with Draper Labs at MIT, GTRI and Carnegie Mellon. These institutions of higher learning are developing the key resources to enable interoperable IoT solutions for our Federal agencies.

It may be early in the lifecycle of IoT, which means that the old mantra on standards still exists — “the nice thing about standards is that you have a lot to choose from”, but there are success stories from government agencies that have mandated standard use on IoT. For example, John Williams at Symantec, discussed the mandates set forth from the FDA and NIST on the standards required for embedded medical devices. These standards are now making news as companies have something to build towards, or at least approach, when developing new devices, including the watch that may be on your wrist right now! And we can’t write this without at least bringing up the recommendations from DHS on developing a standard for IoT OEMs, supporting companies and implementing Federal agencies that came out this week. This will, no doubt, create a dialog with industry over the coming weeks and months on how this vision will be realized a d this Working Group will be involved.

However, we know challenges remain. This is clear in the important areas of automotive IoT for V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) communications as well as transportation in general from PTC (Positive Train Control) to smart traffic management. These areas will be challenged by standards on the hardware, the communication link and the data platform and it is important for all interested parties to come together. Additionally, for Federal Agency deployments, it is critical that IoT data be shared across agencies and therefore be collected and formatted in a way that facilitates this sharing in an immediate and actionable manner. For example, sharing data in a tactical environment between Navy IoT sensors in a marine environment with Air Force ISR data from a UAV to be delivered to forward deployed Army soldiers in real time can be critical to their mission. In these and many other scenarios, it is important to consider the real time sharing ability for any and all IoT deployments.

The IoT Working Group will meet again on 8 December at Google’s Washington, DC headquarters. All are welcome to join in person or on our bridge as we will be discussing Cyber Security in the Internet of Things. It is sure to bring on some heated conversations and prescient recommendations. Come out and join the discussion — reach out to Nick Nilan, co-Chair of the IoT Working Group.

Written by: Nicholas Nilan, co-Chair AFCEA DC IoT Working Group & Managing Partner at Verizon