UK launches ‘edge computing’ centre

By on 02/04/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
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 is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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