Results of EMPIR project receives international recognition

Image showing an engineer using a laptop to  control a robotic arm  performing maintenance
Engineer using a laptop to control robotic arm over the internet

A new digital communication format developed by an EMPIR project is expected to be the future for the communication of metrology data 

The EMPIR project Communication and validation of smart data in IoT-networks (17IND02, SmartCom), due to finish this year, has been working on developing a new communications format for transmitting metrological data over the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). The IoT refers to the increasing connectivity of electronic devices over the internet, such as smart fridges, security cameras and even cars. Based upon the data these devices receive, they can make decisions from re-ordering milk accurately for your breakfast or alerting your phone to the presence of an intruder on your property.

However, the decisions these physical objects make strongly rely on data that they receive, and the confusion, ambiguity and incorrect interpretation caused by missing metadata, diversity of units etc., represent a significant risk for future investments in IoT technologies. If the IoT is to bring benefits to society, it must be based on principles including those derived from the metrological concepts of traceability, uncertainty and interoperability, and legal metrology – which are currently not met.

Digital communication protocol

SmartCom has addressed this issue by developing a digital communication protocol based on the International System of Units – the Digital SI (D-SI). The representation of metrological data in the system is based on existing internationally recognised documents including:

The SmartCom project has translated the CODATA data into a machine-readable format that can be downloaded from PTB, the National Metrology Institute (NMI) of Germany.

The project has also produced a guide on how to use D-SI format for safe, harmonised and unambiguous digital transfer of metrological data. The system is also being advanced by the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM)  who have set up a task group ‘CIPM Task Group on the Digital SI (CIPM-TG-DSI)’ to promote this system and to make the BIPM’s SI brochure machine readable.

Other project developments

Members of the project consortium have also given presentations to Regional Metrology Organisations (RMO’s) outside Europe’s EURAMET – the INTER-AMERICAN METROLOGY SYSTEM (SIM) which covers the North and South Americas and the ASIA PACIFIC METROLOGY PROGRAMME (APMP) which covers parts of Oceania as well as India, Japan, Pakistan and China.

Apart from the Digital SI system the project has also significantly contributed to forming the basis for Digital Calibration Certificates (DCC) that allow the creation, process, transmission or receipt of calibration certificates according to the specifications of DIN EN  ISO/IEC 17025 and has produced a short document outlining the principle available for download from the projects website.

As an NMI may perform between 5 to 10 thousand calibrations a year this represents a significant reduction in paper, time, as well as errors due to human factors and additional analogue processing. Furthermore, the certificates can be stored on the calibrated instrument itself or send over the internet for filing in a database. These certificates are also conform to the requirements of legal metrology – the measurement discipline covering the legal aspects of such things as statutory measurements that involve fair trade, health, public safety, the environment, and protection of consumers. The project has also produced a guide on this.

The D-SI and Digital Calibration Certificates are currently being used in a test bed for secure exchange of mass and position data of containers in harbours as a part of a logistics chain in Finland. Those data must be provided to the carrier ship operators by the harbour operators to ensure that the stowage plans of the ships are prepared based on reliable information to optimize the stability and safety of the vessels. The D-SI and the DCC were applied to ensure the correct representation and traceability of the measurement data, and the reliability of the devices used to collect the data.

The project reporting period has now finished and a session to disseminate results was held on the 29th of September. The digital calibration certificates originated in SmartCom are now being further developed and spread to industrial users in the German funded project GEMIMEG II and are expected to make a significant impact in the future of metrology in the digital age.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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