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Guest blog post by Bill Vorhies

Summary:  NIST weighs in on the Internet of Things to create a common vocabulary and development roadmap.

In July we wrote about the 7 volume Big Data Technology Roadmap being developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which is part of the Department of Commerce.  You had an opportunity to review and comment on this final draft before publication.  See that article here.

Well they’re back and this time with a final draft of their comprehensive roadmap for the Internet of Things (IoT).  Despite the fact the IoT is the widely accepted name for this field, NIST elected to call their study “Framework for Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)”.  Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like IoT but don’t let that deter you from taking a look.

Like its Big Data predecessor, this is the result of collaboration among business, academia, and government experts organized into the Cyber-Physical Systems Public Working Group (CPS PWG).  At 227 pages it’s a comprehensive reference of all things IoT from a wide range of contributors.

When the CPS-PWG decided on its somewhat unusual name it appears they were trying to draw a definition around a number of phrases, some of which have fallen out of use.  In addition to IoT, they include the domains of M2M (machine to machine), the industrial internet, and smart cities among others. Those of us on the Big Data and predictive analytics side of things tend to view this all as IoT.

Despite the odd naming, they created an interesting taxonomy about what makes CPS (IoT) different and distinguishable from other things:

The combination of the cyber and the physical, and their connectedness, is essential to CPS

  • CPS devices may be repurposed beyond applications that were their basis of design –e.g., a cell phone in a car may be used as a mobile traffic sensor; energy usage information may be used to diagnose equipment faults.
  • CPS networks may have “brokers” and other infrastructure-based devices and aggregators that are owned and managed by third parties, resulting in potential trust issues – e.g., publish and subscribe messaging, certificate authorities, type and object registries.
  • CPS are noted for enabling cross-domain applications – e.g., the intersection of manufacturing and energy distribution systems, smart cities, and consumer-based sensing.
  • Because CPS are designed to interact directly with the physical world, there is a more urgent need for emphasis on security, privacy, safety, reliability, and resilience, and corresponding assurance for pervasive interconnected devices and infrastructures.
  • CPS should be composable and may be service based. Components are available that may be combined into a system dynamically and the system architecture may be modified during runtime to address changing concerns. There are challenges, however. For example, timing composability may be particularly difficult. Also, it may not always be necessary or desired to purchase assets to build a system; instead, services can be purchased on a per-use basis, only paying for using the resources needed for a specific application and at the specific time of usage.

The document which you can download here covers nine broad areas:

  1. Functional
  2. Business
  3. Human
  4. Trustworthiness
  5. Timing
  6. Data
  7. Boundaries
  8. Composability
  9. Lifecycle

There are also excellent listings of references for those wishing a deeper dive and a good appendix of Definitions and Acronyms.  Also a number of well detailed use cases to spur the imagination of you IoT entrepreneurs.

The good news about these NIST studies, both this IoT study and its Big Data brother is that they are quite comprehensive and represent the thinking of a very wide range of public and private experts.  They are also completely public domain.  The bad news is that they take a long time to complete between their committee development and public review process.  This one started in 2014 and I don’t find much here about real time or streaming analytics or combined analytic and transactional databases like SAP HANA or VoltDB that are today’s forefront of IoT enablement.

If you want to be part of the process, the Working Group is taking public comment via email until November 2, 2015.

The template for submitting comments is available here.  Please submit comments using the spreadsheet template by November 2, 2015 via email to [email protected].

The Draft CPS Framework is freely available for download here. An additional Technical Annex, Timing Framework for Cyber-Physical Systems, is also freely available for download here.  Their homepage is found here


September 28, 2015

Bill Vorhies, President & Chief Data Scientist – Data-Magnum - © 2015, all rights reserved.


About the author:  Bill Vorhies is President & Chief Data Scientist at Data-Magnum and has practiced as a data scientist and commercial predictive modeler since 2001.  Bill is also Editorial Director for Data Science Central.  He can be reached at:

[email protected] or [email protected]

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