Project scope

The Internet has already fundamentally reshaped the ways we live and conduct business. Everyone has information at their fingertips, access to services across the globe, and practically ubiquitous connectivity. Even though sectors were made obsolete, businesses have embraced new technologies. Companies with the highest capitalizations, the highest amount of cash, to put it simply, often exceeding the size of the economy of an entire country, are Internet giants.

The same trend is now emerging for the physical world: Internet for living and production spaces, measuring everything: our own bodily functions (e.g., when we are in-patients or when we do sports), our homes (e.g., energy consumption, heating, locks, lighting), sophisticated machinery (e.g., robots on the production floor, or tools in a mining field), cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes (e.g., to protect us, making transportation safer, more efficient and thus sustainable). We can in the end be surrounded by truly smart environments: not only know about our physical world but have a 24/7 ability to control and make everything more efficient, more comfortable, safer.

The question is why have we not yet reaped the benefits promised by smart environments? The answer is simple: we cannot still entrust our lives, our wellbeing, to them. These exciting technologies are still vulnerable to abuse, they may even give new ways for perpetrators (be it the hacker next door, an industrial spy, a radical, a criminal) to disrupt our everyday lives and business.

The SURPRISE project comes to address this, securing smart environments, making them resilient to attacks, and protecting the privacy of their users, protecting sensitive information. We take a holistic approach, rather than addressing a slice of the problem or focusing on a specific application. Yet, we are pragmatic in that we distill three key targets, three cornerstones of security and privacy for smart environments: (a) trust management, making everything and everyone accountable even though we protect privacy; (b) lean and resilient communication, to ensure information can be reached even from low-cost devices with little power, even against powerful disruptions; and (c) data validation, storage, and analytics, to ensure we work with and keep safe verified physical-world data without leaking, unnecessarily, valuable information. These three key contributions, this tool-set, is what SURPRISE will deliver to empower any future smart environment designer.