Preparing for Smart Infrastructure York University in Toronto is the lead institution behind the launch of the Dependable Internet-of-Things Applications (DITA) program, where students will explore the latest in sensor-driven technologies leading to the realization of concepts like smart cities. The multiinstitution collaboration is being led by Marin Litoiu, Associate Professor at York. The program recently received $1.65 million in funding from NSERC and is collaborating with a list of industry partners including IBM. We asked Litoiu about the program and the state of IoT infrastructure today. How many years/classes are involved in the DITA program? The DITA program is an enhanced graduate program and enrolls Masters and PhD students as well as post-doctoral fellows. Students are enrolled in home programs of the participating universities (York, Toronto, Victoria, Alberta, Ryerson and Polytechnique de Montreal). Therefore, the number of years and the number of courses they take depends on the specific program and university. A DITA student will take courses that are relevant to Internet of Things. Some of the courses being developed hold an industrial internship and learning components that are not usually offered in a typical graduate program. For a Master degree, for example, the student will finish all requirements in less than two years. What are examples of leading-edge smart infrastructure applications? Smart transportation is often in the news with self-driving cars and connected vehicles, also, smart healthcare with health monitoring applications, and smart homes with many applications including smart thermostats. Internet of Things, “IoT,” is a family of technologies, protocols, software and algorithms that enable sensor-embedded objects to connect to the Internet. The data emitted by these objects can be archived on the cloud, where it 30
CCE AugSept2018_AMS.indd 30
What will students finishing in this program know that most of us don’t? The program focuses on the software engineering for IoT applications and it takes a holistic approach in teaching all the software principles and skills that make a complex IoT application. Designing and evolving IoT ecosystems is challenging and requires a new generation of professionals equipped with technical skills, interdisciplinary knowledge, ethical principles, and social awareness. Marin Litoiu
is fused and analyzed to make inferences. The analysis that takes place on the cloud, such as analytics, artificial intelligence-based algorithms, make the “things” smarter and almost all economic sectors are trying to exploit this concept. Does Canada have examples of smart cities/smart infrastructure in place? There are efforts made by many sectors to use IoT technologies, especially on the instrumentation side. However, “Smart Cities” or “Smart Transportation” are rather long-term goals and will take time to materialize. The convergence of analytical and machine learning capabilities, real-time control, pervasive sensing and actuating, as well as the availability of compute and storage clouds are creating the perfect storm that will make all of these goals achievable. Why is the program called “Dependable” Internet-of-Things Applications? Since software is at the core of IoT applications, we want the software to be dependable, that is, to be trusted that it will provide the required services at any time. Designing robust, reliable and available software is notoriously difficult, and we want to train the students with the mechanisms to increase and maintain the dependability of the software in the very complex ecosystem of IoT.
Are engineering firms asking for students with this knowledge? The program is designed based on the input of our industrial partners, including engineering companies, and aims to address training gaps that include: practical skills on IoT as identified by practitioners; interdisciplinary knowledge required by the complexity of IoT; soft skills as needed by modern businesses; and exposure to state-of-practice and state-of-the-art IoT-related technologies through innovative research. The program will also expose trainees to economic, environmental, and societal aspects of IoT in three application domains: Smart Transportation, Smart Buildings, and Assisted Living. How does the program’s relationship with IBM work? IBM, as a cloud and “smart” technologies provider, is the most involved partner in the program. Through the Centre for Advanced Studies, for over 25 years IBM has perfected the mechanisms for research collaboration with universities. IBM's involvement includes internships, joint research projects, participation in designing new learning components, and access to cloud and learning material. I should mention that we have partner companies including: Latium, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, Unionville Home Society, Southlake Health Centre, Medical Confidence, Bitnobi, Ecobee, and Mavennet. CCE
2018-08-15 10:43 AM