THINGS is engaged in the development of a sustainable smart agriculture architecture.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the body that oversees the technical development of Internet Technologies. While widely regarded as a Standardisation body, it is for sure a “special kind” of the club. First of all, participation is open to anyone that is willing to participate, regardless of the company or institution he works for.

key basics of IETF

  1. Open process.
  2. Technical competence
  3. Volunteer Core
  4. Rough consensus and running code
  5. Protocol ownership

Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplah

At the beginning of its life, back in the 80s, IETF focused on technologies such as the Internet Protocol, TCP, DNS: in other words, all the mechanisms that allow the internet to work.

In recent years, though, there was a shift towards IoT technologies, because of the importance that connected technologies bear in the overall interest architecture.

Meetings at IETF are held every 4 months (3 per year) and are usually large gatherings that attract more than 1000 delegates. While at the beginning IETF was very US-centric (the first meeting held outside the US was the 18th, in Canada; the first meeting held outside North America was the 27th, in Amsterdam), nowadays the rule is that there is one meeting in North America, one in Europe and one in Asia every year: in 2019, there was one in Prague, Montreal, and Singapore.

While most of the IETF activities are performed offline, I was present at the 106th IETF meeting, in Singapore, to present some ideas related to developing an IoT architecture for Smart Agriculture.

Photo by Alessandro Bassi during the Internet Engineering Task Force 106 in Singapore

why we are interested in smart agriculture?

IoT-based smart farming, a system is built for monitoring the crop field with the help of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, etc.) and automating the irrigation system.

– IoTforall

Developing sustainable agriculture for our planet is a huge societal challenge. This domain could benefit from concepts coming from the IoT, in order to develop a stable, large production, close to the consumers, with little or no use of chemicals.

There are clearly intrinsic issues in this, such as resilience of devices in a hostile environment, communication, and battery life issues in large estates, sub-optimal decisions to be taken without full information – all encapsulated within a positive User Experience environment.

The absence of a common model makes technical interoperability between different systems very complex and expensive, if not almost impossible. Such a standard will allow a number of actors to develop devices and services with common interfaces and boosting interoperability between different subsystems.

From the IoT architecture point of view, there are several generic efforts, but none has a focus on the specificities of the agricultural field.

The Internet of Things Architecture, IoT-A: back to basics

Given the emergence of fog/edge architectures and their relevance in the Agri domain, where devices on the field may need to take decision that is of fundamental importance to the growth of the crops, a standard in this area will be very relevant for the industry in general and it will allow the emergence of innovative SMEs, that can focus on specific aspects.

Therefore, we at THINGS are very proud of promoting such a standard, that will outline the main building blocks and the interfaces between layers.

Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash