IoT research and technological development in Europe

The debate about Internet of Things in Europe rose at a time when the structure of the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) was already established. It is obvious that the holistic approach adopted by the “Networked Enterprise and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)” unit (DG INFSO/D4) in its initiatives, especially the Communication of June 2009 and its follow-up, deemed to draw attention in policy makers, academics and industry and to yield considerable and lasting benefits for the European economy and society, does not fit well the FP7 structure with its few “Challenges” and associated “Objectives”. During the implementation of the first two ICT-FP7 Work Programmes (2007-2008 and 2009-2010), the networking and communications aspects of IoT fell clearly within the remit of Challenge 1 (Pervasive and Trustworthy Network and Service Infrastructures) whereas the hardware aspects (nanotechnologies, sensor technologies, solutions bridging nano and micro systems, etc.) matched better the contents of Challenge 3 (Components, Systems, Engineering) and the applications aspects could be found relevant to the contents of Challenge 5 (Towards sustainable and personalised healthcare), Challenge 6 (ICT for Mobility, Environmental Sustainability and En ergy Efficiency), and Challenge 7 (ICT for Independent Living, Inclusion and Governance).

This discrepancy between a vision (Internet of Things), the related technologies (RFID, sensors, wireless sensor networks, nanotechnologies, etc.), and the available policy instruments (FP7) will unfortunately not disappear rapidly. It would not be advisable indeed to modify the structure of FP7 for accommodating just one particular vision. But it can be regretted that the FP5 idea of “cross-programme actions” was abandoned in the next Research Framework Programmes, and hence the possibility of clustering the projects from different “Challenges” with respect to their adherence to the IoT vision should be explored. The recommendations put forward by a number of relevant industry groups, especially the IST Advisory Group, go in the same direction. Meanwhile, in 2008, DG INFSO/D4 had taken the initiative of defining the contents of a specific call for proposals (Call 5 of the 2009-2010 Work Programme) for addressing Internet of Things in a dedicated and holistic way. The response to this call, which was received at the end of 2009, was high and the overall quality of the proposals very good or good.