Due to the distributed nature of local energy markets, the case for developing trustworthy energy trading platforms with transparent data sharing and payment digital infrastructure is becoming more clear. A DLT-based digital infrastructure can guarantee the audit-ability of exchanged data, the provenance of renewable energy supply, and process real-time and automated value transfer on a pay per use basis.
I3 is the name of an open consortium of technology leaders with the goal of creating IoT communities, including smart cities, where device owners are an active part of the community. Individual IoT communities will be given the opportunity to network with each other to form larger communities. Applications and data merchants will be given access to these IoT-based communities and offer their value-added services to enable the improvement of daily life in the city of Los Angeles and beyond.
I3 also stands for the Intelligent IoT Integrator, that is the core software developed to serve as a vendor-independent data management tool that sits between the IoT device and the IoT application to manage the many IoT data streams between the independent IoT devices.
The I3 Vision
The I3 system envisions a world where application developers, can access the multitude of sensors that others have deployed and connected to the network.
The I3 system envisions a world where sensor owners can take the initiative and deploy smart sensors in anticipation of an emerging and independent application market that will leverage their data for the benefit of its users.
The I3 system envisions a world where companies can easily integrate data from different types of sensors from many different manufacturers to improve their internal decision-making processes. By increasing data transparency, advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence processes will have a better view of the real world because they will be able to map our physical world as a digital twin.
The I3 system envisions a world where data flows seamlessly between data producers and data consumers, a world where data systems can easily adapt to policies and decisions.
Tasks of I3
Work with suppliers to create an environment that facilitates testing and evaluation of IoT network components.
Create and evaluate concepts and tools needed to establish and manage trust in a community of independent device owners.
Disseminate software / information to promote collaborative development and networking among IoT communities.
Conduct activities designed to accelerate the realization of IoT-based smart systems.
The goals of I3
Integrate software from multiple sources to create a citywide IoT test / demonstration system.
To create a test / demonstration system that can demonstrate functionality, perform operational testing, and generate market data needed to evaluate return on investment (ROI).
Expanding our understanding of IoT marketplaces and privacy by evaluating concepts. For example, promoting or preventing data flows, data ownership, incentives, and trust.
Creating an open source product from the core I3 software that can be distributed to other community-based IoT devices to promote systemic evolution from a common foundation.
Develop networking capabilities that enable diverse and independent I3 data streams to interact and share data effectively. > An IoT data marketplace.
Encourage IoT device deployment and data sharing by independent device owners by addressing security and privacy needs to complement an incentive and trust-building system.
Provide application developers access to a compilation of real-time IoT data drivers as needed.
Encouraging greater application-side use of data streams by AI systems and applications to enable data merchants to make smarter decisions.
Creating a virtualized representation of the IoT device for a network infrastructure to protect the network from damage caused by devices with uncertain origin.
The I3 Marketplace
In order to realize the vision and goals they set for themselves, researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) created the I3 Marketplace for buying and selling data. Due to its design, both humans and IoT devices can participate in trading on this I3 marketplace. The marketplace does not store data, but only acts as an intermediary for selling information. Buyers of data or data streams, thus need a place to store their data and need to be sure that this data has not been tampered with.
USC researchers therefore experimented with the IOTA protocol, among others, to see if and how this scheme could work with this technology. IOTA’s distributed ledger technology enables this desired tamper-proof transfer of data, plus values (IOTA Tokens) can be transferred without a fee.
I3 marketplace users can now use the IOTA Tangle to store their data immutably. In the future, there will be more research, experiments and improvements around IoT and the integration of various devices and sensors in close collaboration. S. D. Nelson (“Nelson”) of the IOTA Foundation will report on this in further blog articles.
TMForum is a non-profit industry association with the mission to drive the digital transformation and thus the future growth of its partners from the telecommunications sector. In short, TMForum paves the way for its partners to explore new technologies and business models.
In May 2019, TMForum unveiled a project called “Blockchain-based Telecom Infrastructure Marketplace” with the intention to use distributed ledger technology to create a telecom infrastructure marketplace. This marketplace is expected to help create more agile, flexible, and on-demand business and procurement models, allowing companies to communicate and transact directly with each other by eliminating intermediaries. In addition, the marketplace is expected to help build trust and transparency across value chains and ecosystems between players.
The two major communications service providers (CSPs), Orange and Vodafone, have outlined the business challenge and are working with participants Infosys, IOTA, Nokia, and r3 to solve it, in addition to also working with Stanford University to research smart contracts. Two use cases are of particular interest to CSPs, these are: Expanding existing infrastructure or acquiring capacity for a temporary event (e.g., large-scale events) and opening business opportunities in a country (or location) where there is no or incomplete infrastructure.
Detailed description of the problems to be solved
All large CSPs nowadays provide their own required infrastructure to sell their services to the end user. These are for example assets like cell towers, WLAN infrastructures, frequency bands, fiber networks or even aerial drones at large events. All these assets are needed to establish connectivity, even in remote rural areas with few potential customers.
The problem in these rural areas is that the infrastructure provided is not fully utilized, which means that the revenues from having not enough customers do not cover the ongoing operating costs. In urban areas, it is sometimes the other way around, where the CSP may have overestimated the capacity of its infrastructure, resulting in networks collapsing under the flood of data. This often happens when special events such as major sporting events, music concerts or festivals take place. Anyone who has ever tried to send a photo during major events may already be familiar with this problem. This under- and overcapacity is mainly due to the separation of the network infrastructure of the different CSP. Each CSP exclusively lets its own customer base use the network infrastructure.
Not only the missing infrastructure is a problem for CSPs.
For the use cases already outlined, facilities or assets need to be procured or leased from various players in the country / territory concerned (e.g., tower or spectrum providers). Due to the lack of trust between the involved actors and the fact that there are usually no long-term relationships or commitments between the companies, such transactions are practically impossible and cannot be solved by the CSPs without a very large effort.
DLT is inherently based on immutability, transparency and is traceable to any actor. This creates trust and enables instantaneous transactions. These characteristics are predestined for solving the described use cases. Therefore the goal of the project is to find the necessary infrastructure for the CSPs and be able to deploy it quickly and with minimal effort while providing a service that meets all the requirements of the customers.
IOTA wants to solve all these problems with the “Telco Asset Marketplace”
In such a marketplace, all the described assets (network infrastructure) could be offered by different providers for potential buyers. Increased flexibility in this distribution process would definitely stimulate and benefit the market. A new business model also emerges in which two new types of stakeholders appear, the sellers of unused capacity of their own network infrastructure and the buyers who buy up this unused capacity in order to be able to offer their own customers the contracted services at any place and at any time.
The seller does not have to be one of the large CSPs; it can be anyone who can develop and deliver a mobile service. This is a good opportunity for small and medium-sized companies offering innovative transmission technologies to provide their services to a larger customer base in a straightforward way. Especially with the new 5G networks and the accompanying service-based architectures, the concept of “Infrastructure as a Service” will be a future innovation driver.
What are the major benefits of such a marketplace?
By sharing assets (network infrastructure), CSPs can reduce their ongoing operational costs by flexibly selling or buying additional capacity as needed; underutilized assets are no longer a problem for CSPs.
Large events or future events that require a large mobile Internet bandwidth (virtual reality, augmented reality) cannot be handled by today’s CSPs with their own network infrastructure in most cases alone. Moreover CSPs and also the event organizers cannot afford to provide the required infrastructure temporarily and ad hoc. However, the situation could change if various CSPs or other service providers offer unused spectrum, cell towers, drones and WiFi infrastructure for sale on this marketplace for a limited time.
In countries with insufficient network infrastructure, CSPs could buy services to provide a network without dead spots.
Why does such a marketplace need to be decentralized?
Without the decentralized IOTA technologies, each CSP with today’s digital capabilities could build its own marketplace where service providers can search for and request the resources they need. However, as each CSP then creates its own marketplace, the resulting fragmentation, will negate the benefits of a single marketplace. Offers would have to be published and searched on different marketplaces, and the results from different platforms would have to be processed and evaluated. This significantly increases the complexity of identifying offers. In addition, the required payments would be made across different systems; increased administrative effort and higher costs must then be expected due to the many different accounts.
Instead of fragmenting, there needs to be a marketplace that is shared by all CSPs but owned by no one. A transparent, open marketplace with permissionless access for all, where both assets (network infrastructure) and service providers publish their offers and requests, and where automated matching and payment processing with tamper-proof audit trails are provided.
This will mainly provide the following benefits:
Real-time bids and requests and optimal asset allocation (network infrastructure).
Reducing the ongoing fixed costs of each asset and thus maximizing the ROI (Return of Investment) for asset providers
Always the best asset selection for service providers
A unique payment system via IOTA tokens to accelerate access to assets
An easy-to-audit audit trail and quick release of usage agreements, also easy for accountants to control
However, there are also obstacles to the development of such a versatile market. First, the lack of trust and difficult accountability over who is providing what, under what conditions, and who is accessing it. Second, the distribution of revenues and the tracking of liabilities in case of abuse. To overcome these obstacles, the IOTA-based Telco Asset Marketplace was developed.
Open Marketplace – A decentralized marketplace for smart cities
Open Marketplace is a project launched by the IOTA community in Spring 2020 with the goal of empowering local communities in terms of collaboration, commerce, and more.
Regardless of whether you run a local business or an online store, there are no costs or transaction fees on the Open Marketplace. You can easily create and run your store in an open application.
In the decentralized Open Source Marketplace, many open applications can be used and combined. All of them are decentralized and can be self-hosted or hosted via Open Cloud. Open applications means that anyone can use them for free. The source code of the applications is public and all builds can be downloaded for free. Any developer has the permission to use or modify the code as they wish.
The following applications are to be developed for the Open Marketplace: Marketplace, Shop, Delivery, Chat, Data Marketplace, News, Discount, Social Networking.
Various ideas are already bubbling up to bring these envisioned applications to life; for example, local purchases could be delivered by drones in the future. A proof of concept for the Open Marketplace is already being worked on, and the team is also participating in an IOTA hackathon with the theme “Build a Marketplace of Devices with IOTA” to gain experience and ideas in the process.
The PoC is expected to cover the following features for now:
Represent delivery and loading operations of a delivery drone in a simulated environment – but with real data and payments.
Drone manufacturers or operators of a drone delivery service should be able to deliver packages to customers on autopilot and earn money.
The drone should be able to use one of the many smart charging stations to fill its batteries and pay for electricity – completely automated.
Another idea is to create a decentralized and privacy-protected chat application. There is already a first prototype.
Interested developers and can actively participate on Github.
The next generation of industrial automation, Industry 4.0 (I4.0), is increasingly coming into focus for all companies. In the future, devices and machines will not only manage information about assets, but proactively initiate decision-making and optimization algorithms, such as the purchase of goods and services required for the production process. I4.0 devices, with their goal-directed behavior, can be seen as autonomous independent economic actors cooperating according to market principles.
The highly flexible value networks resulting from I4.0 require new forms of cooperation between companies – both on a national and global level. The successful implementation of I4.0 depends on the creation of a common global communication and computing infrastructure that enables economic relationships between people and machines.
The semantic Industry 4.0 Marketplace is an important piece of the puzzle for building this needed infrastructure. The marketplace leverages IOTA’s distributed ledger technology for confidential, tamper-proof data transmission.. IOTA technology also serves as a payment system, enabling improved connectivity between people, machines, and machine-readable contracts. In addition to IOTA technology, the marketplace uses the ECLASS ISO / IEC industry standard to exchange standardized master data with each other. ECLASS is a global reference data standard for the classification and one-to-one description of products and services. It is the standard language for industrial companies, for a faster and more reliable exchange of product information without regard to organizational structure or language barriers. ECLASS offers product data for 44 industries and has established itself internationally as the only ISO / IEC standard-compliant cross-industry industry standard. More than 3,500 companies worldwide already benefit from using ECLASS.
For some time now, data has been described as the new oil of the digital world. Companies like Facebook, Google or Amazon earn a large part of their revenue from our user data by collecting it in advertising profiles and selling it to various advertising companies or by directly targeting us with advertising tailored to our web browsing behavior. But not only our collected browsing data is worth a lot. Sensor data such as the collected temperatures of a meteorological institute can be worth something or various data sets that can be collected by means of a so-called digital twin.
A digital twin represents a real object in the digital world. It describes the properties and behavior of the real object under certain conditions and can be connected to the real world in real time via sensors. The mapped objects can be tangible or intangible objects such as products, services or processes. Thanks to the coupling with real data, such as environmental conditions or tool positions within the machines, the digital twins allow various analyses and simulations to be carried out. For the digitization of production processes, simulation, analysis, production and development processes with digital twins represent the basis. In Industry 4.0, digital twins will accompany the complete development, production and operating cycle of a product or service. Processes can be planned, optimized and adapted thanks to virtual simulation models.
A basic idea of the IoT is the exchange and trade of such data sets. With “machine-to-machine” communication, devices can autonomously trade a wide variety of data among themselves, but it could also become very interesting for humans to receive data directly from sensory end users without having to go through a third-party platform. Creating data marketplaces is an inevitable consequence of the IoT revolution. It will fundamentally change the way we connect, interact or trade data.
Moreover, currently diverse data is mostly limited to the control of a few entities and unavailable to the masses. Because no one has knowledge of these data sets, let alone would have access to them, many potential insights from a missing analysis of this data are lost. Without access to diverse data, not everyone can develop new use cases or enter new business areas either. Traditional value chains will change, forcing companies to rethink how they compete within ecosystems. Data marketplaces are emerging as a means of exchanging data, monetizing data streams and as a basis for new smart business models.
Particularly at a time when data is becoming increasingly important, IOTA and its data marketplace represent a counterpart to the status quo. The IOTA marketplace is a decentralized data market that aims to make data available to any compensation partner. They are a way to create and capture value in an environment where sensors and connected devices trade data directly with each other autonomously in real time. For example, smart city sensors can be paid for sharing valuable real-time data, or physical production equipment can now be leased, so “pay-per-use” models will shape the smart sharing economy and reorder value chains. Also, our personal data could soon be accessed only with our proactive consent through our digital twins or personal data management systems, enabling radically new personalized and real-time services. (e.g., eHealth)
In addition, the data marketplace enables the secure sale and access of these active data streams. As an IOTA Data Marketplace user, you will have the ability to buy or sell IOTA Streams-encrypted data.
Proof of concept and future development
The IF has already internally created a proof of concept for a data marketplace in the past. Since the beginning of the PoC development, a number of proactive industry participants have already progressively intensified their engagement and provided valuable feedback to the IF technical teams to help accelerate the development of the IOTA data marketplace to a production-ready product.
In 2017, the IF published this PoC (Open-Source) asking the community and interested companies to help fully decentralize all functions of the data marketplace to shape a common standard that works for everyone. With the published PoC, a major challenge has already been met and the IF is providing the first impulse for new business model thinking. For all participants, this platform provides a starting point for exploring new IoT / M2M solutions and business models for the “economy of things” and designing their own data marketplaces.
Outlook: Building an ecosystem to foster innovation
The IF will organize more co-creation workshops, webinars, hackathons, and information sessions with the topics of Data Marketplace, IOTA Streams, Trusted IoT, GDPR and Personal Data, Smart Energy, and Smart Cities to catalyze the triggered exploration process. External perspectives and capabilities will help deliver viable ideas for all. In cross-server data sharing, new models can only emerge through ecosystem collaborations, as existing value chains often need to be reconfigured. It takes a cooperative effort by all participants to enable a mutually beneficial business relationship. This co-creation process focuses on creating minimal viable ecosystems of partners around specific use cases. The key is building trust between partners and aligning them around a common goal.
In January 2019, a workshop in Berlin already attracted more than 80 participants from a wide range of industries, including mobility, energy, agriculture, real estate, eHealth, smart manufacturing, supply chain, financial services, semiconductors, IT integrators, consulting, universities, and industry clusters.
Conclusion: IOTA Data Marketplaces with all its forward-looking possibilities are eagerly awaited by many companies and for IF it is also one of the most important sub-sectors of the very large vision for the autonomous economy of the future.