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13 November 2014

FI-WARE: What Is This?

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For a close follower of the world of communication and information technologies and electronics, the concept of the Internet of the Future (or Internet of Things) is not a mystery. A long time has passed since the Internet was a myth, using a mobile phone to access information or share contents in a social network was the privilege of a few, when we lived in an unconnected world and were not almost slaves to devices. The “cloud” is spoken of today as if it was a revolution rather than a return to a previous stage, but the truth is that the general availability of services, equipment, storage capacity and data and information processing lets us know more and make better decisions.

As in everything surrounding ICT(E), companies set out early and by many routes develop standards and protocols, and before we know it, there are numerous currents, if not rivals, competing for similar or connected spaces.

Some time ago, the European Commission realized the challenges and opportunities in a world where we all live connected in an enormous network populated by the most varied sensors, activators, consumers and producers of information. Structurally, a wide range of actors became involved – multinational companies in the sector, operators, local authorities, … - and an open architecture of a system began to be defined, one which was open, public and without royalties, allowing everyone to be part of an eco-system and ensuring the bulk of the effort was directed to creating new applications, to spread the use of ICT(E) to environmental protection, health promotion, improvement of value chains in industry, transport (among others), instead of reinventing a set of software items that are always necessary and require a lot of time (and with no great differentiation). Among them are the storage and processing of data (big data), context management, communication and integration with “things” on the ground, publication of services and making them available (applications or data), security, management of configurations and versions, and interoperability (among others). This effort by multiple entities defined the rules so that the “Lego” would be easy to assemble and any company or individual could create their own applications forgetting details (consuming both time and effort) that would be a barrier to beginning operations.

Today, besides the architecture of reference, the FI-WARE has various pilots implemented and is starting to be adopted by operators and towns, allowing the creativity of all who wish it to be quickly transformed into an innovation for market use. It is up to everyone to promote adoption of a standard so that this becomes unavoidable.

For this to happen, the European Commission recently financed 16 accelerator projects which called for applications, and will call for more, to attribute finance and to mentor small firms that wish to launch new products based on this architecture. Without wishing to omit any, I must naturally highlight the SOUL-FI project, whose implementation is managed by the IPN (Instituto Pedro Nunes), where one of the areas of reference is that of Smart Cities.

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