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ICT R&D Challenges Philip Hargrave CEO & Network Director ICT KTN Creating a competitive advantage for the UK by facilitating the exchange of knowledge on Information & Communications Technologies and accelerating innovation 1
ICT R&D Needs • At the start of this year the Ian Vance conducted an exercise on behalf of the ICT KTN to look at the needs of the industry for UK R&D activity during the period 2012 – 2017. • We consulted widely with stakeholders and asked for their responses to the question What R&D in the ICT sector should the UK be engaged on in the next 5 years? • The topics considered and the process followed were developed at a High Level kick-off meeting held on 9 January. • In order to collect views from a wide range of participants, workshops were held in three locations focussing on different elements of the ICT sector: • Reading 14February Smart ICT • London 23 February Computing and the Cloud • Cambridge 12 March Broadband Everywhere
ICT R&D Meetings Brief • Attendees at the meetings were given the following brief: • This is a new activity to provide a strategy for long-term R&D opportunities for ICT in the UK, involving Industry, Academia, the Government, the Technology Strategy Board, EPSRC and other bodies. • There have been significant changes in both the supply and demand aspects of the ICT business in recent years and there are gaps in the supply chain which might require remedial action. • The intensity of R&D in the UK varies significantly across the sector and is a potential cause for concern. • ICT covers communications, computing, and IT in general, although one of the changes taking place is the continualblurring of these divisions.
ICT R&D Meetings Format • Each session was headed up by keynote presentations and elevator pitches from the floor. • One of the starting points known to many was the scaling down of the Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE) after many years of work. • It was clear that any re-organisation of this grouping would need to look at a wider range of topics than just mobile. • A wrap-up meeting was held on the 27 March at which recommendations resulting from the activity were considered. • A final report was published on 10 April.
The Conclusions Drawn • It was notable that the whole of the ICT sector was very much in evidence but with a bias to the futures of mobile / cellular provision of communication. • This last point was evident even in those sessions that were focussed on computing and networks. • An assumption seems to be current that interaction with services is necessarily going to involve wireless means. • This is obviously a significant change from a position that we would have seen five years ago, and is supported by the statistical fact that the number of smart appliances now exceeds the number of PCs. • Four overarching R&D directions emerged from the detailed topics that were discussed at the meetings.
Ubiquitous Service Delivery and Hetnets • Ubiquitous Service Delivery and the strongly overlapping area of Pervasive Computing was by some margin the most discussed topic. • Although this topic has been current for at least 20 years it has taken on new importance with wireless connected devices such smartphones and tablets allowing users to access services anywhere, anytime. • However reality still lags far behind the ideal, and there remain significant challenges that are a rich mixture of technical, historical and commercial issues. • Heterogeneous Networks (or Hetnets) are part of the Ubiquitous service delivery scenario. • It is clear that any one network will be unable to deliver ubiquity on its own, but there are many problems that remain in providing a seamless experience in transitioning from one network to another, such as retaining Quality of Service and Security,that are exacerbated in the hetnet scenario.
Component & Device Roadmaps and Test-beds • Component and device road maps were considered in several contexts. • There is some perception that we may be approaching the end of Moore’s Law especially when energy consumption is a dominant design factor. • Whilst there seems to be a number of new possibilities, including graphene, nano structures and continuing photonic integration, many of these are only expected to emerge in the longer term. • Gaining an understanding of these trends is important but is difficult to do, especially for SMEs. • The need for test-bedsand facilities came up strongly in several different contexts.
Timescales • A general concern was that the subjects of many research activities may take many years to come to market. • The example was given of fibre optics, where it was more than 15 years before anything was sold at a profit let alone repaid the previous investment. • It was considered that finding underpinning structures that might allow such longer-term work to prosper would be particularly valuable to the UK.
Specific Topics • Networks • How to create secure pervasive reliable connectivity. • How to build really useable Heterogeneous networks. • How to hide the complexity of such Hetnets from users including security, transparency and ensuring service continuity. • Cognitive and intelligent use of the radio spectrum including optimisation of co-existence with broadcast and other users. • Creation of low cost Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). • Consequences of the massive move to fibre-connected small cells. • Security evolution to give confidence to users everywhere. • Positioning • Opportunities offered by ubiquitous positioning and indoor localisation.
Specific Topics • Internet of everything • Research into M2M network requirements, including the merits of a separate network. • How to optimise IoT and M2M enabled by IPv6. • Exploitation of the Internet of Everything. • Hardware • Flexible RF devices and systems. • Tuneable RF parts, such as diplexers. • Use of Graphene and other new materials for improved RF and other components. • Better deployment technologies for Fibre Everywhere. • Better batteries. • Higher frequency integrated radio – 60GHz, 350GHz. • Integrated photonics and design rules to exploit the emerging foundry capability.
Specific Topics • Computing and Software • How to create truly pervasive computing. • New applications of pervasive computing. • New architectures as CPU performance and memory size plateau. • Heterogeneous computing with different cores and accelerators –new tools are needed to make this work efficiently. • Compilers for >4 cores in parallel computing. • Methods to write apps for a distributed environment. • Tools development for efficient cloud use. • Identification of data attributes by location and other parameters. • Development of general purpose languages that automatically ensure such things as security. • Interface innovation. • Methods to reliably retract information from the web. • Data curation – long term management. • Augmented Reality – usable applications.
Specific Topics • Facilities – Test-beds and the like • A network-level test-bed of sufficient scale and complexity to represent reality. • A Smart City allowing research that is overlapping with transport, energy and the like. • Can JANET be made available for industry co-operation? • Can we create universally accessible test-beds via JANET? • A 5G test-bed. • The “Internet of Things experience” for apps developers and designers. • A Cloud test infrastructure for both cloud development and applications. • Federated cyber-ranges across institutions. • Support to industry • A facilitated programme to engage with Horizon 2020. • A technology exchange forum to improve access to information in the UK including an atlas of test facilities. • Fraunhofer like bodies to fill the TRL 4-6 gap. • Collaborative industry activity to work on global StandardsGroups.
Conclusions • There is a desire amongst the ICT community to engage in a process to enhance the capabilities in the UK by enabling R&D to be performed at a higher level of intensity. • There is support for a model that will allow industry to engage better with academia. • This needs to have a mechanism to allow SMEs to participate in a cost-effective way, rather then requiring substantial subscriptions in advance from all the industrial partners. • There are some specific topics, such as Hetnet evolution to ubiquity that require work which might best be undertaken by a consortium, given the range of skills and infrastructure required and also the need to establish standards. • The particular selection of more specific work areasrequires some co-ordinating method or body.
Conclusions • There is a strong desire to find a way to establish test-beds, with initial candidates for such test-beds being: • A Cloud computing infrastructure test facility. • A Network level telecommunications test-bed, including core network components and a variety of access networks such as cellular radio and FTTx. • A smart wireless city with contiguous WiFi coverage and possibly White Space to test apps and uses. This might be coupled with a cybercity that allows development tests at higher layers. • A GNSS test facility.
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