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UK IoT research centre to tackle cyber risk

A government-backed national IoT research centre has been launched as part of UK efforts to become a world leader in tackling cyber threats  

The UK is set to gain a centre of national excellence for the internet of things (IoT) as part of the government initiative aimed at designing out cyber threats in IT hardware.

The initiative, announced in January 2019, supports research into the design and development of hardware so that they will be more secure and resilient from the outset. This aims to “design out” many forms of cyber threats by “designing in” security and protection technology/solutions into hardware and chip designs.

The newly launched Petras 2 (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security) IoT Centre of National Excellence is aimed at providing a significant boost to research about the collection and communication of data by IoT devices.

The centre’s research focus will be on the opportunities and threats that arise from edge computing, an innovative way to collect and analyse data in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

When implemented successfully, edge computing can improve network performance by reducing latency, which is the time taken for data to traverse a system.

“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,” said Jeremy Watson, Petras director and professor at University College London department of science, technology, engineering and public policy (STEaPP).

“I expect 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 economic, societal or cultural impact that will help to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this area.”

Petras 2 is the second phase of the Petras programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the Security Digital Technologies at the Periphery programme. This phase is aimed at strengthening the established 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 shared research agenda which incorporates social and physical science challenges, and has worked across a broad range of technology readiness levels, which assess the readiness of technologies for use.

Madeline Carr, deputy head of department and director of research at UCL STEaPP, said: “Ensuring that the UK leads from the front on emerging technologies will require close attention to the policy landscape that enables growth and promotes the implementation of secure, trusted systems.

“The UK has already exhibited real leadership through the Secure by Design Code of Practice for IoT consumer devices and we’re pleased to be able to continue to support those efforts through Petras 2.”

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