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Consortium Building Framework to Boost IoT Data Trust

Network graphic

(The Digital Artist, Pixabay)

28 Oct. 2019. A group of companies and not-for-profit organizations are creating an open-source matrix of technologies to build trust in distributed smart networked systems. The undertaking, called Project Alvarium, aims to increase the confidence of users in the data shared and processed by rapidly growing numbers of interconnected devices and networks driven by artificial intelligence.

The need to build more trust is driven by the numbers of devices created by the Internet of Things, or IoT, that interconnects with a wide range of corporate, government, and home systems and networks across various industries and sectors. Building trust levels is also vital, say Project Alvarium’s developers, for creating confidence in artificial intelligence models created through massive data transfers needed for machine learning.

In addition, that trust needs to reflect different layers of technologies, from individual chips or sensors up through entire networks. Yet most of today’s security is based on a zero-trust model that requires verification for each party and connection, which Project Alvarium proponents say does not scale in the world of highly networked smart systems.

Project Alvarium — Latin for bee hive — is a collaboration between the Linux Foundation and IOTA Foundation, with partners in the private sector including semiconductor maker Arm, edge computing developer MobiledgeX, Unisys, IBM, Dell Technologies, and others. The first task for Project Alvarium is called a data confidence fabric, a shared collection of open data tools, such as application program interfaces, or APIs, that provide control of data to their owners, yet still allow for use by others, and provide transparency and accountability for their use.

The goal of a data confidence fabric is to insert more trust into the networked interactions, while still allowing for security, privacy, and data ownership. Project Alvarium aims to build the basic framework and APIs, as well as algorithms that make it possible to measure the level of trust in the data shared across systems and through the networks. Building that trust, say the project’s leaders, will help make smart networked systems more scalable.

“Data confidence fabrics,” says Dominik Schiener, co-founder of the IOTA Foundation in an organization blog post, “address three inherent and often conflicting challenges within the massive debate over data — how to keep control in the hands of the owner, how to allow for its public use, and which data to trust.”

“As edge computing becomes more pervasive,” adds Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, edge, and IoT at the Linux Foundation, in a foundation statement, “a comprehensive open-source framework that delivers measurable confidence across industries and across stacks is imperative.” Edge computing makes possible processing data created by IoT devices closer to the point of their creation, rather than sending the raw data through the cloud.

At the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, the Linux and IOTA Foundations announced today that Dell Technologies is providing an initial code set to get Project Alvarium off the ground. Jason Shepherd, chief technology officer for edge computing and IoT at Dell Technologies notes, “By creating the industry’s first method to deliver data with measurable confidence, we will fundamentally change how individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and government entities alike manage, share and monetize their data efficiently at scale, all while maintaining privacy based on terms they establish.”

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