Tightening security on the Internet of Things

The University of Nottingham is to be part of UK Government’s wider initiative to become a world leader in tackling cyber threats.

Derek Robert McAuley , Professor of Digital Economy, in the School of Computer Science and Director of Horizon is joining a new National Research Centre which aims to provide a step-change in research associated with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Professor McAuley said: “The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming embedded in everyday lives, but daily we hear reports of security failures and data breaches, inevitably undermining consumer trust. Alongside enhanced security features, we must also address some fundamental design questions, like why does your central heating control need to share your personal data with a service on the far side of the planet?”

The PETRAS 2 (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security) National Centre of IoT Excellence will provide a national capability to enable the UK to become a world-leader in IoT security and associated systems security. Its research focus will be on the opportunities and threats that arise when edge computing is deployed more widely in the economy and society: when Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies move from being centralised systems to being run at the periphery of the internet and local IoT networks.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, as part of the Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery programme, this second phase of the PETRAS programme will strengthen an already established and successful platform which, since 2016, has coordinated and convened 11 universities and 110 industrial and government User Partners in cross-disciplinary collaboration.

PETRAS has created a dynamic shared research agenda that incorporates social and physical science challenges in equal measure and has worked across a broad range of Technology Readiness Levels.

PETRAS will manage a series of open academic funding calls throughout its lifetime, the first of which will be announced in summer 2019.

If you would like to get in touch with the PETRAS programme or be added to the mailing list, please contact impact [at] petrashub (p) org.

Professor Jeremy Watson (CBE FREng), PETRAS Director, said: “The Centre’s ultimate aim is, by creating a trustworthy and secure infrastructure for the Internet of Things, to deliver a step change in socio-economic benefit for the UK with visible improvements for citizen wellbeing and quality of life. I anticipate productivity improvements and cost savings across a range of sectors including healthcare, transport and construction. In bringing together academics, industry technologists and government officials our research will create accessible and relevant knowledge with clearly visible impact (economic, societal or cultural) that will help to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this area.”

PETRAS 2 is a Research Centre with national strategic value, on the established and successful platform of the PETRAS Hub. This will inherit its governance and management models, which have demonstrated the ability to coordinate and convene collaboration across 11 universities and 110 industrial and government User Partners, but will importantly step up its mission and inclusivity through open research calls for new and existing academic partners. PETRAS 2 will maintain an agile and shared research agenda that views social and physical science challenges with equal measure, and covers a broad range of Technology Readiness Levels, particularly those close to market. It will operate as a virtual centre, providing a magnet for collaboration for user partners and a single expert voice for government. User partner engagement is likely to be strong following the successes of the current PETRAS programme, which has raised over 1m in cash contributions from partners during 2018.


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