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 OCF, LoRaWAN, WISUN and TALQ:

  • 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 opensource wireless sub-GHz mesh shall be compatible with the WISUN specifications and pushes the device interoperability to a higher level.
  • TALQ: gateways that would implement the uCIFI opensource wireless sub-GHz mesh technology would be interfaced with Central Management Software using the TALQ Version 2.0 RESTful Protocol.
  • 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.

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. 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. uCIFI shall develop an open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology which is the ideal complement to the LPWAN STAR low-bandwidth communications technologies. The uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh shall provide a long-range wireless communication network that allows devices-to-device communication (e.g. a presence sensor to several streetlights) with a bandwidth of 300 kbits per second or more. Newticity, the open source Linux Foundation project that implements the uCIFI technical specification, shall provide both device-to-device as well as device-to-central communication. The uCIFI open source mesh is positioned on top of and is fully compatible with WISUN. Products which shall comply with the uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh shall also be certifiable by WISUN.

Will uCIFI also provide an open source gateway to link end-device to the cloud ?

uCIFI shall specify a gateway software to interface end-devices, which shall implement the uCIFI unified data model or the uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology, with Central Management Software, through the TALQ Smart City version 2.0 protocol. Other application protocol may be implemented at a later stage. The open source Linux Foundation project called Newticity shall propose a reference software implementation of such an interface.

When will the first software stack be released ?

The uCIFI technical workgroup has started to specify the unified data model as well as the first version of the open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology. The implementation of these specifications is developed by the open source Linux Foundation project called Newticity. The team working on this open source project has started and plans to release a first version of a software stack reference implementation in Q4 2018.

Pilot sites will start with few selected cities and uCIFI member companies in Q3 2018 to release a version in Q4 2018 that shall have been tested in the field.

Where is uCIFI officially 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 the products ?

Once the uCIFI technical specifications are documented and the software implementation developed under the Linux Foundation project called Newticity, uCIFI will focus on developing a “Test and Certification Process and Tool” that will enable companies to test that their product conforms to the uCIFI Technical Specifications and help them get certified. The certification process shall be discussed and agreed by the uCIFI Alliance Members. It is not yet decided whether certification will be performed by external authorized agencies or whether it will be a self-certification process.

Will uCIFI work globally ?

The uCIFI unified data model shall apply to any LPWAN network, regardless of wireless frequencies. The uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh technology shall utilize free, 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 city's security requirements ?

The uCIFI open source wireless sub-GHz mesh network includes a reference implementation for device authentication, secure provisioning, data encryption, and key management. Unlike many proprietary solutions that use pre-shared keys, uCIFI is built on PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) using secure cryptographic algorithms specified in the NSA Suite B standard. The same secure manufacturing images and provisioning system can run across communications protocols, giving a customer true visibility and confidence into the security of its solution.