Benefits of Standardization in the Internet of Things

Next Generation Communications Blog

Benefits of Standardization in the Internet of Things

By: Tim Carey, Industry Standards Manager of Alcatel-Lucent’s Customer Experience Division

The world of M2M is changing as solutions move from single purpose devices that transmit data to and receive commands from an application in the network to an Internet of Things where solutions permit devices to be multi-purpose and applications to be collaborative.

The Internet of Things can benefit from global standardization efforts that:

  • Enable deployment of standards compliant devices and applications with no or minimal customization thereby expanding the applicable device ecosystem and reducing deployment time
  • Provide an ecosystem that readily allow applications to share information and experiences
  • Provide an environment where communication occurs securely and the privacy and confidentiality of the user is maintained

In today’s, world M2M solutions abound and not much architecturally has changed since the 1970’s.  The Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems has described the definition of M2M as communication terminal independent of human interaction communicating with a core network or another terminal for the purposes of automating services. 


Granted that while the network that facilitates the M2M communication has changed dramatically since the 1970’s and provides quite advanced capabilities (e.g., 3GPP Machine Type Communication), the architecture of the M2M solution has remained fairly static – A device in the field that communicates with an application in the core network for a specific purpose.

However, we are beginning to see paradigm shift for M2M, called the Internet of Things (IoT).  Powered by the infrastructure of M2M, the IoT fundamentally changes the way devices and applications interact. We can look at this progression of how devices and applications collaborate using technologies enabled by the M2M infrastructure in much the same way that people collaborate using the social Web or in how commerce has been enabled using Web 2.0 technologies. 


In the world of IoT devices once had a single purpose. But now it provides data or can be controlled for varying purposes across industry domains. For example, a pedometer can be used by:

  • A person to track his/her progress
  • A person’s healthcare provider as part of a physical assessment
  • A person’s insurance provider to assess insurance premiums

It is the same pedometer but the data is used by different application domains.

Since the IoT is enabled by the capabilities of the M2M Service Enablement Layer, the IoT domain draws upon many of the benefits provided by global standardization efforts like oneM2M  that help solve the challenges faced by the M2M industry today. Benefits like:


However, because the basis of IoT is the multi-purpose collaboration of “things” (e.g., pedometers, storage containers, and energy meters) there are challenges that are accentuated in the IoT domain like:

  • Security: privacy, confidentiality is difficult to provide and enforce
  • Ecosystems don’t readily exist for applications to collaborate
  • Data exchange formats are incompatible within and across industry domains

In this context, standardization provides benefits that enable this type of collaboration.


In fact there are global standards bodies working on these challenges today. They are providing definitions to aspects of the collaboration across application frameworks that enable an application development and execution ecosystem and provide a clear definition of interfaces for application providers and device (Thing) manufacturers.  For example the work in the Home Gateway Initiative (HGi), W3C, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and oneM2M in the area of semantics in IoT.  They are standardizing a common vocabulary and associated templates for “things” to be described in a context that suits the varying purposes of the “thing”.

One of the key issues in the exchange of semantic information is how the privacy and confidentiality of the information source can be maintained while still providing the needed semantic context. The capabilities to provide rights to the information source and anonymize the semantic information are just a few of the security that standards bodies like the W3C, IETF, ITU and IEEE are actively pursuing.  The industry realizes that if privacy and confidentiality isn’t designed in up front and on top of the security capabilities (e.g., authentication, access control, data protection) provided by the enabling M2M infrastructure, the benefits of the IoT cannot be fully realized.


Realizing this, oneM2M is pulling these semantic vocabularies together in a framework that enables applications to efficiently discover, exchange and analyze semantic information across industry domains while providing the capabilities to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the semantic information sources.


Standardization of the Internet of Things may seem like big hurdle to leap but if these organizations are successful, then the IoT is going to be a much friendlier place to work and live.    

About Tim Carey

Tim Carey is the Industry Standards Manager of Alcatel-Lucent’s Customer Experience Division. Tim was recently inducted into the Broadband Forum Circle of Excellence to recognize his leadership in advancing the Forum's mission of driving broadband wireline solutions and empowering converged packet networks worldwide to better meet the needs of vendors, service providers and their customers.

Tim has over 18 years experience in the communications industry, working in the areas of solution deployment, system engineering and system architecture across a wide variety of technologies that include Optical, ATM and IP transport, switching and routing products as well as development of Home Networking devices and Network and Device management systems. In his current role as Industry Standards Manager, he is actively involved in a number of standards bodies that include oneM2M, ETSI, IEEE, Broadband Forum, Open Mobile Alliance, HGI, DLNA and UPnP forum providing expertise in the areas of network management, device management, home networking and machine to machine technologies. 

Related Articles to 'Benefits of Standardization in the Internet of Things'

Featured Events