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The ebbits project is affiliated with the following programs and organisations:

The ebbits project is active in the FInES cluster, the Future Internet Enterprise Systems (FInES) Cluster, where ebbits is leading the taskforces on international relations and manufacture and industry. Read more here.

The ebbits project is part of the Cluster of European projects on the Internet of Things. The Cluster aims to promote a common vision of the Internet of Things. ebbits is leading the taskforce on semantic interoperability

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The ebbits project is a 4-year project started in 2010. It is partly funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme in the area of Internet of Things and Enterprise environments under Grant Agreement no. 257852


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Articles Hierarchy

The ebbits platform

The ebbits platform bridges the gap between virtual enterprises and public information systems, human users and “things” in the physical world.

The ebbits platform creates an ubiquitous communication infrastructure that automatically and dynamically connects to sensors and devices in the physical world in e.g. manufacturing facilities or in private smart homes. It further connects to mainstream backend information systems, public authentication systems and regulatory information sources using semantic web services. It finally connects to human users in dispersed geographical locations such as professional users in technical support, field service and other business environments as well as ordinary consumers in shops or at home.

Physically, the ebbits platform consists of subsets of production servers for data management, event management, security, application execution and communication. All servers interoperate in an open architecture on the basis of web services and are thus completely platform agnostic and scalable. A software development toolkit allows for rapid development of new ebbits applications. The platform is visualised in the Figure below.


The physical world
The interoperability capabilities at the physical level will be based on a scalable, secure open middleware for devices developed in the FP6 project Hydra and SOA support for application design, simulation and monitoring of real-time distributed automation components from the control perspective in manufacturing environments developed in the SOCRADES project.

Devices (tags, sensors, terminals, systems, sub-systems, etc.) are seamlessly connected to the ebbits platform as Web Services that proxy the functionality of the device. This is obtained either with the middleware embedded in the device itself or by virtualisation of the device e.g. on a network node. The middleware employs semantic technologies that automatically discover and configure the physical devices irrespective of their underlying communication protocol and thus enables every device to participate in intelligent service orchestration deployed by the enterprise management system.

The device interconnects with other devices in the environment that can record contextual information about the parameters in the physical world. Data are pre-processed and formatted in the active edge network access layer nodes/gateways, which operates software bundles an OSGi (Open Service Gateway initiative) framework. The gateway can handle virtualisation, authentication, real-time monitoring and event handling and other services, which are needed during periods of outage (non-connectivity).

The gateway also manages personalised feedback to business professionals, adapted to the available user terminals, as well as self-monitoring and autonomous regulation of devices and systems in the physical world, e.g. preventive service and maintenance monitoring. For devices and sub-systems not capable to operate web services (due to resource constraints or proprietary concerns), the gateway also dubs as a platform for virtualisation of devices.

The ebbits platform also connects into smart-home environments for consumers and private users. Identification and authentication of products with RFID tags is done automatically and consumers can be warned about unsafe or counterfeit products, “best-before” dates, end-of-life precautions, etc. Consumers can also inquire product life-cycle information (traceability). Throughout the ebbits platform, data are transmitted securely to and from nodes through fixed or mobile public and/or proprietary networks. The communication is network agnostic.

The ebbits platform
The ebbits platform is the central production environment for the deployment of ebbits applications. It consists of five subsets each responsible for their part of the overall functionality:
  • The Data Management subset is central to the high level functioning of applications and services deployed on the platform. It implements a model-driven architecture for application development and deployment, an open service oriented architecture for core service functionalities, data manipulation, data fusion and event handling. It also manages data transfer to and from nodes and stakeholders in the ebbits environment.
  • A Service Orchestration subset will orchestrate the different services available in a pre-described sequence for execution. This component introduces higher abstraction mechanisms and makes the application developer independent of using a specific programming environment to orchestrate ebbits applications.
  • The Network Management subset is responsible for the physical communication between devices, persons and external repositories. Each node will have its own Network Manager and each Network Manager will have an external Web Service based interface where it can exchange data with remote Network Managers.
  • The Security Management subset will perform mapping and brokering between security models, user and device profiling management, mapping and usability between trust domains, and semantic standards with generalisation ontologies development.
  • The Application Development subset is an open SDK toolkit for model-driven development of applications that use the ebbits platform.

Applications are developed and deployed to execute comprehensive tasks. Each application serves specific goals and is constructed from a series of standardised workflows and business rules. An example of this could be optimised production changes due to availability of parts and equipment. One workflow consists of obtaining information of the availability of specific parts by checking the parts list against the content in assembly line bins and local inventory locations. Another workflow constantly monitors the availability of production lines for the assembly of the specific product. A third workflow will read the actual volume of manufactured parts whereas a fourth workflow will compare the achieved optimisation level and feed it back to a goal oriented business process rule engine which determines the production strategy and fuses the information to various stakeholders.

The applications are developed and stored in the form of conceptual domain models (ontologies). The domain model describes the functionality, the objects involved (devices, users, rule sets, repositories, etc), the security model to be used and the run-time environment. Applications are easy to build, modify and deploy and features very effective application development and roll-out to various locations.

The various levels of abstraction handled in the ebbits platform are shown in the Figure below.

At the very top we find the Application Layer. Applications are developed and deployed to execute complex tasks. Each application serves specific goals and is constructed from a series of standardised workflows. Applications are developed and stored in the form of conceptual domain models. The domain model describes the service, the objects involved (devices, users, rule sets, repositories, etc). An adapted subset of the ISA-95 will be used to describe the domain taxonomy. The common domain model will be mapped to an operative data model, which is implemented in the Service Layer.

At the second layer, the Service Layer, applications are translated into service components. Each workflow in the application consists of a series of services. The services are structured in an operative data model, which is implemented by XML schemas and a set of Web Service interfaces. The service ontology presents high level concepts describing service related information, which will be used in both development and run-time processes. Since each device, person and repository is basically accessible as a service, the service and device ontology enables a developer to create new instances for any device type, which are filled with real data at run time. A set of services will be developed for rules processing, feedback, user interaction, etc.

The Data Management layer is basically a runtime environment that transforms data into information. It performs data manipulation and conditioning, translation between state domain and real time domain, simple data analysis, queries, contextualisation of data, and fusion of data to the next node, either upwards to the Service Layer or downwards to external devices or repositories.

Data manipulation may take the form of linearization, extrapolation, interpolation, extraction or contraction, reformatting etc. Translation between state domain and time domain is also performed here. The simple data analysis can consist of basic Boolean operations comparing real time data with thresholds or observing state changes. Data Management may also invoke extended services for special tasks. The Data Management subset also provides more advanced querying functionality hardcoded in specific Web-Service methods.

Context awareness is achieved through semantic annotation of device data, data coming from the manufacturing environment, and data from the historical information in ERP repositories. Finally, the server is responsible for providing transparent storage for the various services.

A series of Data Management services will be developed. Some are common services across the platform and some are specific services encompassing special algorithms to be used in the developed prototypes.

The Network Management layer controls the physical communication and implements the security model. Security will be implemented either centrally or locally; the pros and cons depending on the actual applications. For strongly centralised applications, i.e. in encapsulated industrial processes, where the objects are tightly coupled, a centralised security model is a possibility. For achieving the protection goals, the Security Manager has to be contacted before every call to the Network Manager for decryption, verification of signatures, logging, etc.

For applications using very loosely coupled devices that come and leave the platform, a decentralised structure is preferable and functionalities for communication protection have to be included in every single component. In these cases, the Security Manager can be used as a stand-alone security component key management and general cryptographic purposes.

The users’ world
The ebbits platform connects to a broad range of users and provides multiple ways of feedback to them or to any other user in the business system. Data, information and knowledge are transmitted in personalised form from the Data Manager to various stakeholders.

Consumers in their homes can use smart home infrastructures to check authenticity of drugs and pharmaceuticals, inquire about manufacturers’ instructions for use and product warranties, visualise the path from farm to fork for food in their refrigerator, and automatically receive recall, upgrade or re-stock instructions, which could be turned into automatic purchasing.

Technical state information, production information, monitoring information, etc. is available to business professionals. Contextualised process and manufacturing information is transmitted to technical centres and field service teams.