In the last decade, the Internet was characterised by becoming a technology, essentially for communications, capable of maintaining millions of real-time communications and able to store and process large volumes of all types of information; a technology that can be provided at anytime and anywhere, in any format or on any device on the planet. People and things became permanently connected elements. The Internet evolves becoming the largest network of networks, a large open platform that offers a service of services.
At the same time, the Internet has become a technology that is not only present in all human activities (leisure, work, health, education, culture.) but also in the relationship between humans and things, or these and nature. The Internet is becoming transversal and breaking into all people and all things, in all their fields and activities.
This network of networks based on extremes empowers users, who have become not only receivers of information but also producers and consumers of all types of data, information and knowledge. The experience of this technology has for the first time allowed humans to have a great tool to create collective co-creation spaces, where information can be shared and knowledge can be created and shared. The Internet, which revolutionised communication and transmission of information from its beginning, has become not only a great space for creating digital objects, but also a huge environment for the design and production of digital and physical objects. The Internet has become the first major space for the creation and collective sharing of knowledge that connects the real world to the virtual world.
It is within this context that we find the goals and activities of i2CAT for the next six years, looking towards Horizon 2020.
The fact that the Internet has outgrown its deployment and use in purely residential or academic environments and that it is being applied in all human activities, such as urban environment (introduction of the Internet in “smart cities”), productive environment, beyond management, entering into production (Factories of the Future), or breaking the walls of the traditional concepts of health and inclusion systems (e-Health), to name a few, opens a completely new scenario for both research and development and for new production and business systems, and most importantly, for human welfare and respect for nature.
In the years to come the network that up to now transferred, stored or processed isolated or sectored information, using primitive models, procedures and services, will become a large and complex open system where information and knowledge will be transversal to all human activities, nature and things. These will have to be managed by global services and applications, which will be dynamic, simple (transparent to users), supplied in secure and changing environments, based on the demand of users and resources availability.
This new system will overwhelm traditional economic sectors just as the Internet did with the entertainment and media industry by introducing media contents to residential environments. This large and universal mix of knowledge will outline new challenges in the field of research and development of solutions and products, creating a new knowledge economy and new human behaviours.
At the same time this knowledge network should be based on a physical infrastructure (fixed networks, mobile phones, sensors, etc.) which should be transparent and homogeneous with all types of information, provide a large bandwidth (Gbps), immediacy, ubiquity and security, use resources efficiently (virtualisation, federation…), optimise their use (frequency reuse, multi-modality…), concatenate services and reduce energy consumption. All these requirements, needs and restrictions converge towards what is called 5G.
This is the big challenge for our centre for the next six years, to become one of the R+D organisations to promote this changes both internationally and locally.
And it is upon these three pillars of infrastructures, being transversal and knowledge management that a new social space of cooperation, of knowledge socialisation, and of co-creation is beginning to be built.
In this period, our scientific and technical activities are focused on 4 driving points:
- Strengthen R+D human resources and attract new ones as a fundamental pillar of our business
- Create a new ecosystem (research groups, universities, businesses, government and users) to be the motor for this change.
- Focus our R+D+i activity on:
- The fifth-generation networks and services, 5G convergence: resource management in hybrid networks (mobile phones, fixed networks, sensors…), design of new protocols, infrastructure management and service composition.
- Promoting the Internet to be transversal: Introduction of the Internet into the productive sectors, digital manufacturing, distributed manufacturing, media and production, culture, Cities and the Internet, Internet Bio.
- Knowledge management: information modelling, search engines, recognition and presentation, creation of open systems, new home-network interfaces (multimodality, multirealities, biological parameterisation…)
- Deploying and modelling new co-creation environments
- Innovate together with the users and the industry
- Listen the users and industry in order to understand their problems and needs
- Bring the innovation closer to the market
- Apply the knowledge generated across the different research projects to find solutions to current problems