Intelligently interconnected: Machine to machine communication makes everyday life in the city easier

Today, automation already penetrates all aspects of urban life. Machines are taking over more and more routine tasks, whereas humans focus on the design and control of those technical systems that exchange information with each other using machine to machine (M2M) communication. The goal of an M2M platform is the flexible support of different urban spaces in different areas, for example building surveillance and control, electronic health care systems, smart metering or localization services. The basis for a municipal M2M platform spans from mobile communication, that is net technologies (for example UMTS and LTE) and fixed and cable networks to sensor networks and sensors.

City M2M-Plattform - Schaubild

While current sensors, which measure variables such as acceleration, brightness and temperature in smartphones still function widely without a network, data from a variety of such sensors can be recorded, collected and processed based on an intelligent M2M platform and can be bundled and used in the form of completely new services and information.

The research and provision of prototypes of such an M2M platform presents a significant contribution to the interconnectedness of machines and at the same time provides users with multimodal, mobile access to the systems. Based on the Fraunhofer FOKUS developments “OpenEPC” and “OpenMTC”, we are working on an innovative infrastructure that offers monitoring and control for cities which will enable them to intelligently use the technical characteristics of converging networks, especially the new LTE networks as successor of UMTS. Thereby, the available bandwidth of data channels is flexibly adjusted to the demands of the application scenarios and contexts of use, from high-speed video channels to those with low bitrates, including numerous sensor data channels.

A specific scenario, which Fraunhofer FOKUS promotes in collaboration with wireless network operators and manufacturers, describes how applications can be best provided in vehicles via novel LTE networks. It opens up a completely new service world for manufacturers and transport and wireless network providers. While the passenger watches a video on the internet, the driver is reliably provided with up-to-date traffic information in real time and is notified of imminent danger. For this purpose, a control infrastructure cleverly takes advantage of the significantly shorter latency period of LTE networks – compared to UMTS. In addition, the M2M platform helps to bridge transmission gaps in the vehicle to vehicle communication (Car2Car) via LTE network, which is especially important for providing drivers (see above) whose Car2Car systems are mainly based on WLAN technologies with traffic information. WLAN technologies require the vehicles to be close enough to each other to exchange data. If the distance grows too large, the data flow is interrupted and information can no longer be updated.

Furthermore, current studies predict a significant growth in the area of M2M communication. An increase in the number of M2M compatible devices and the increase of data volume and connections is certainly expected. Aside from the M2M applications in the automotive sector, innovations in the areas eHealth, city automation and smart metering will have a significant impact on the access networks and on their part build the basis for new business models for operators and manufacturers.

Inspired by the current M2M standardization efforts at ETSI and 3GPP, the OpenMTC platform of Fraunhofer FOKUS implements a series of M2M midleware services (“sercive capabilites”) in order to support applications from various application domains. The flexible integration of M2M services in existing service delivery platforms (SDPs), thus the service platform of the network operator, leads to interesting market potential for M2M whose developments are addresses by FOKUS.