Questions and Answers about uCIFI

Who can join the uCIFI Alliance ?

The uCIFI Alliance is open to any industrial company, consulting firm, end-customer, public authority, utility and other entity who are committed to develop open non-proprietary solutions to unlock the smart city and smart energy markets.

The uCIFI Alliance offers 4 membership levels:

  • Sponsor Level ($10k) which includes board seat (only for elected sponsor members), participation and vote in technical, certification and marketing workgroups. Sponsors have the right to implement uCIFI in their product and get free certification.
  • Contributor Level ($3.5k) which includes participation in technical, certification and marketing workgroups. Contributors have the right to implement uCIFI in their product and get free certification.
  • Adopter Level (not open yet – free of charge – shall be open when uCIFI data model version 1.0 is available) which enable access to the specification. Adopters have the right to implement uCIFI in their product but have to pay for product certification.
  • Observer Level (free of charge) which includes participation in technical, certification and marketing workgroups. Observer do not have the right to implement uCIFI in any product. Observer Level is dedicated to end-customers (e.g. cities and utilities) and any other academic or public entity who does not develop/commercialize products.

Are there synergies between uCIFI and other standards ?

The goal of uCIFI is to bring solutions to existing market pains, particularly to provide a unified data model and an open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology to Smart City and Smart Energy applications that require long-range device-to-device communication. To do so, uCIFI shall not reinvent the wheel but will work hand in hand with other consortia and initiatives including OMA, WISUN, FIWARE, LoRaWAN and TALQ:

  • FIWARE: the uCIFI data model is the equivalent of Fiware device profiles but on constrained networks, while Fiware models are designed to run only on IT servers and based on JSON and NGSI RESTful that can’t be transported on LPWAN low bandwidth networks.
  • LoRaWAN: uCIFI shall provide a unified data model for LoRa devices to be interoperable and easy to integrate in central management software.
  • WISUN: the uCIFI Technical Workgroup shall select and support an opensource wireless sub-GHz mesh that is compatible with the WISUN specifications and pushes the device interoperability to a higher level.
  • TALQ: the uCIFI data model is the equivalent of TALQ functions/attributes but, while TALQ is based on HTTP and RESTful (i.e. only available on internet networks between gateways and central management software), the uCIFI data model is designed to be used on constrained networks such as NB-IoT, LoRaWAN and WISUN networks. The uCIFI data model maps perfectly with the TALQ functions/attributes, so that a uCIFI-compatible device can easily be available through a TALQ gateway.

How does it position with existing wireless technologies ?

Cities and Utilities need a variety of wireless networks to support their needs. LPWAN networks may be fine for battery-based devices, particularly when device-to-device is not needed and data bandwidth is limited to few kilobytes per second. The main issue with such open LPWAN networks is the lack of standardization for data format. Each device supplier uses proprietary data payload that only vendors can decode, which results into cities being dependent from vendor’s proprietary cloud systems to do the data translation. On such LPWAN networks, uCIFI shall provide a standardized data model/data payload that vendors can use freely to unlock these networks and drastically reduce vendor’s dependence in smart city applications.

When higher bandwidth or device-to-device communication is needed (e.g. dynamic outdoor lighting, demand/response in smart metering), long-range wireless mesh is required. The uCIFI unified data model can also apply on such proprietary mesh network. The uCIFI alliance is also studying existing open source WISUN-certified wireless sub-GHz mesh technology to complement LPWAN STAR low-bandwidth communications technologies and provide multi-supplier mesh options to cities and utilities.

When will the first software stack be released ?

Smart city experts have joined the uCIFI technical workgroup to define the version 1.0 of the unified uCIFI data model, that leverages the Open Mobile Alliance LwM2M format. This uCIFI data model version 1.0 defines agreed and standard attributes for 33 smart city & utility object types including streetlight controllers, electrical cabinet controllers, water & gas meters, water pressure & quality meters, environmental sensors, parking place detectors, traffic counters, city information panels and more. The uCIFI data model is designed to be extendable with vendor-specific objects and attributes.

The uCIFI data model is available for uCIFI members since December 2019. The uCIFI Technical Workgroup is currently working on certification tools and a software package to assist adopters implementing the uCIFI data model in their LwM2M compatible device.

Where is uCIFI based ?

uCIFI is an international Industry Alliance founded by global players. Members from any country are welcome. The uCIFI Alliance is founded in the USA to ease the management of the Alliance which is subcontracted to the VTM Group, an independent agency specialized in managing Consortia and Industrial Alliances.

Who will do the certification of products that implement the uCIFI data model ?

The uCIFI Technical Workgroup is currently developing a self-certification tool to check the compliance of devices that implements the uCIFI data model together with OMA LwM2M.

Will uCIFI work globally ?

The uCIFI unified data model shall apply to any LPWAN network, regardless of wireless frequencies and technologies. The uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology shall be selected to leverage unlicensed spectrum, allowing it to operate globally within sub-GHz bands. Each product will need to go through proper compliance testing, but chip vendors already have products ready for the global market.

Does uCIFI meet all smart city's use cases ?

The uCIFI Technical Workgroup has listed a large number of Smart City use cases and made sure that the uCIFI data model, its 33 objects, hundreds of attributes and services are available to support all of them, from smart streetlight to smart waste, from building energy efficiency to environmental monitoring, from water management to traffic, from parking to safety.