UK launches ‘edge computing’ centre

By on 02/04/2019
Professor Emil Lupu, PETRAS deputy director and professor of computer systems at Imperial College London, at the PETRAS launch in London last week

A national centre of excellence covering the Internet of Things (IoT) and ‘edge computing’ has been launched in London, bringing together academics from 11 UK universities, industry technologists and government officials.

Formally opening on 28 March at University College London, PETRAS 2 is named after its key topics: Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security. Funded by the government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it forms part of the Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) programme.

In particular, the centre will concentrate on cyber security and edge computing: the processing of data close to where it is generated, rather than in central data processing centres. Researchers will focus on the opportunities and threats likely to arise with the growth of edge computing, as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies develop from centralised technologies into more distributed systems – with IoT sensors embedded in buildings and equipments, for example.

What’s it for?

Professor Lynn Gladden, executive chair of the EPSRC, said: “The work of this new centre is vital for the evolution of the interconnected technologies that will permeate our society in the coming years. We have to build trust and confidence in the security of these systems for them to work effectively and safely.”

Professor Jeremy Watson, PETRAS director and professor of engineering systems at University College London’s STEaPP unit, said the centre “will help to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this area.” 

Its ultimate aim, he added, is to “deliver a step change in socio-economic benefit for the UK with visible improvements for citizen wellbeing and quality of life.” This will be achieved “by creating a trustworthy and secure infrastructure for the Internet of Things.” 

Watson said he anticipates future “productivity improvements and cost savings across a range of sectors including healthcare, transport and construction.”

PETRAS 2 – The centre will concentrate on cyber security and edge computing

Protect yourself

According to the government more than 40% of UK businesses have experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the past 12 months. The wider SDTaP initiative aims to develop secure and resilient hardware to protect against cyber attacks.

Professor Emil Lupu, PETRAS deputy director and professor of computer systems at Imperial College London, said: “The combination of IoT and AI represents a revolutionary step in how our lives, and the world around us, are enhanced through a merger of the digital and physical technologies. 

“However, we need to address numerous challenges to ensure that the newly created environments remain safe, resilient and able to protect themselves and their users from harm in the face of threats.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie Leal is an NCTJ qualified journalist based in the UK. She holds a BSc and Master's degree in Social Anthropology and writes about society, poverty, politics, welfare reform, innovation and sustainable business. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Positive News, The Brighton Argus, UCAS, Welfare Weekly, Bdaily News and more.

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