Lancaster part of National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity


Lancaster University is working alongside other leading universities and industrial partners as part of a new national centre that will help position the UK as a world-leader in tackling cyber threats.

Providing a step-change in research associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) the PETRAS (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability and security) National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity, which has been launched today, will provide national capability enabling the UK to become a world-leader in IoT and associated systems security.

Its research focus will be on the opportunities and threats that arise when ‘Edge’ computing is deployed more widely in the economy and society: when ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning’ technologies move from being centralised systems to being run at the periphery of the Internet and local IoT networks.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) programme, this second phase of PETRAS will strengthen an already established and successful platform which, since 2016, has co-ordinated and convened 11 universities and 110 industrial and government user partners in cross-disciplinary collaboration.

PETRAS has created a dynamic shared research agenda that addresses social and physical science challenges in equal measure and has worked across a broad range of Technology Readiness levels.

Lancaster University’s involvement in the centre brings together expertise from the Data Science Institute and the Imagination Lancaster research centre.

Nigel Davies, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Co-Director of Lancaster University’s Data Science Institute, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting initiative to help secure the future IoT. At Lancaster we pioneered work on Edge Computing through our work on ‘Cloudlets’ and we will use this expertise to help develop new system architectures to help ensure secure, privacy preserving and trustworthy processing of IoT data.

“Our involvement in this project represents an outstanding example of Lancaster’s multidisciplinary approach to addressing the key problems of our age. Bringing together our capabilities in Data Science, Security and Design allows us to work on complex socio-technical systems such as the IoT and create innovative new approaches to providing users with secure, privacy preserving and trustworthy future services.”

Paul Coulton, Professor of Speculative and Game Design, and part of Lancaster University’s Imagination Lancaster, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to extend our work in using design to help illuminate the potential socio-technical implications for the future presented by the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Edge Computing.”

Lancaster experts will also lead on the communication and impact of the centre, producing a series of ‘Little Books’ that will translate the research findings into accessible insight for policy makers, professionals and the general public.

Professor Lynn Gladden, Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: Funded through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund, this IoT Centre of National Excellence will build on our previous investment in the initial PETRAS Hub in 2016. The work of this new Centre is vital for the evolution of the interconnected technologies that will permeate our society in the coming years. We have to build trust and confidence in the security of these systems for them to work effectively and safely. The strength and variety of industry and academic partners involved is evidence of the strength of the PETRAS team and the importance of research and innovation in this field.”

PETRAS is led by UCL and alongside Lancaster University also involves Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, University of Southampton, University of Bristol, University of Surrey, Newcastle University and the University of Nottingham.

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