The British government plans to pump more than $13 million into the creation of a new interdisciplinary Research Hub in an effort to make the UK the world leader in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT).

On top of the $13 million from the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) — the UK’s the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research — a number of unidentified partners will contribute to boost the total funding to $33.5 million.

Creating A Hub

Over the next three years, that fund will swell to close to $60 million and pull together nine top British universities that are tasked with developing an environment that encourages the adoption of IoT technologies.

In all, the hub will draw in support and expertise of 47 partners from industry and the public sector. Ed Vaizey, the UK Minster of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, is coordinating the effort.

Several interesting things here: the fact that the initiative is government led suggests that someone at Westminster understands the economic potential of the IoT; and the Hub goes beyond technology considerations.

Understanding the IoT

The Hub has also been tasked with exploring IoT related issues around privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability and security.

From a broader perspective it will also look at various interactions, policy and governance, beliefs and behaviors between people and the IoT systems.

"In the not too distant future almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world. Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves, and the wider virtual world," Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, explained in a statement.

However, before that happens, he added, businesses and users need to have trust in how the IoT works, its security and its resilience. There will be five major focus areas:

  • Privacy and trust
  • Safety and security
  • Harnessing economic value
  • Standards, governance and policy (Lead University: UCL)
  • Adoption and acceptability (Lead Universities: Warwick, Lancaster)

These focus areas will be examined in the context of a number of technology groups including:

  • IT Infrastructure
  • Health and care
  • Control systems and supply chains
  • Ambient environments
  • Identification
  • Transport and mobility
  • Design and behavior

Initially there will be 17 projects that will be launched at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is a sporting complex built for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Those projects will look at :

  •  Cybersecurity of low power sensors and implants
  • Best day-to-day security for IoT projects
  • Monitoring and ensuring the security of connected smart meters

This is only the beginning. In time, the Hub will also look at how IoT-tied businesses and technologies respond to emerging IoT technologies.