Internet of Things

If humanity is to feed itself and live in safe and sustainable environments, it is imperative that we have the tools and information to make smarter and better-informed decisions. We need "smart communities": smart cities, smart rural areas, and smart nations.

The Internet of Things (IoT), in which millions of sensors and computers are to be connected together and communicating with each other, will be a key platform for making this possible. CSL researchers are working to make smart communities a reality by enhancing our ability to network physical objects embedded with electronic devices, to collect and exchange data, to create cyber-physical systems, and to deliver better decisions through data science technologies.

Whether at the site of a natural disaster, on the battlefield, or at a multi-vehicle accident site, getting reliable, accurate information to and from first responders can save the lives of our families, neighbors, defenders, and other fellow citizens. One day, first responders in an earthquake zone where networks have been disrupted may utilize CSL-developed algorithms to deploy drone-based network repeaters to share patient data in real time with remotely located doctors. CSL researchers are pushing the boundaries of distributed network and communication systems to ensure trustworthy augmented data communications under various scenarios.

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Sensors, computing systems, and trustworthy networks will be central to future solutions to a wide range of societal challenges, whether we’re seeking better ways to transport agricultural products from our farms, improving traffic monitoring and management in clogged urban streets, or working to enable an age of self-charging autonomous and semi-autonomous electrical vehicles. For example, cell phones and other devices carried by individuals and in vehicles can be used to monitor traffic movements and ensure safety in extreme situations where masses of people might otherwise be driven to panic. CSL researchers and their partners have been exploring fundamental properties of such future technologies.

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In both rural and urban areas, getting more accurate and complete information before events occur (such as flooding) could reduce disruption to the lives of the people affected. Whether it be in our most crowded cities or in rural areas of the world’s poorest nations, treating sewage to produce safe drinking water, or at least industrially usable water, can make the difference between a vibrant community and disaster. Developing better sensors and control systems could also translate into significant energy savings, as providing drinkable water to dense urban environments requires vast amounts of energy. CSL researchers and their partners are making strides to solve related information science and technology challenges.

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The modern world depends on the availability of vast amounts of safe, reliable energy. To meet future needs, we must more efficiently use the energy to which we already have access while also bringing new sources of power on-line. To succeed, we have to secure the “supervisory control and data acquisition” (SCADA) systems that control oil and gas facilities, nuclear plants, and other elements of our electric power distribution system. Developing trustworthy means to gather and process data from smart meters will allow us to automate energy conservation measures. We will broaden our options as we find new ways to reliably interface highly unreliable energy sources, such as wind and solar, with the power grid on a scale far beyond what is now in place. CSL researchers are pursuing different dimensions of these challenges.

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