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FIWARE: Open Marketplace for the Internet of Things


A relatively young association has become a talking point for some time: the FIWARE Foundation. In a platform ranking of PAC it has landed in the top spots. It does not do business because it is charitable. But it enables business with data by simplifying and transparently managing traffic.

CEO Ulrich AhleCEO Ulrich Ahle explained the details for the PLMportal (photo Sendler).

What does a company have to consider if it wants to become active in the Internet of Things (IoT)? How should new services exchange data with other apps or with platforms in the cloud? Who makes sure that the data is safe?

Such questions are difficult to answer for a single company. Because all providers, platforms and apps have different formats, data models and interfaces. Before any data can be exchanged here, many problems have to be solved for which the time and money are missing, especially in the fast-paced IoT. The larger the environment in which a product with its data plays an economic or social role, the greater the number of interfaces to be served.

The main purpose of the FIWARE Foundation is to solve this problem by providing an open source platform technology that anyone can use to build a platform. One core component is a standard interface through which all parties in an IoT environment can send and receive data, regardless of their origin and format. This interface, which can basically be used for any services, is called FIWARE NGSI, which stands for Next Generation Service Interface.

FIWARE assembly boxThe second core component is the FIWARE Context Broker, which is used in different forms. It collects data from a specific field of application and provides it via the NGSI interface for analysis, evaluation and use in principle for every imaginable service. There is already a whole pool of software components that - together with the core element context broker - make a core context management possible (picture FIWARE).

FIWARE is currently focusing on areas of application that are expected to develop the fastest. It started with Smart City seven years ago. In 26 countries worldwide, 130 cities now use FIWARE as the basis for services with a vast number of networked things and systems. Germany is not yet there, as Ulrich Ahle regretfully mentioned. In his view, German cities are about ten years behind in international comparison. The next major topics are Smart Agrifood with connected agriculture and nutrition, Smart Industry with Industry 4.0 and Smart Energy. The fifth is mobility services, for which FIWARE offers Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

The special feature: FIWARE does not sell any software, but offers access to open source software components that are being developed by a worldwide community. On the basis of these open and free building blocks, interested parties can then, for example, build their own products or services that they market by license or continue to offer as open source. In addition, the partners offer consulting and support for the application of the components or make them available as cloud offers based on the framework.

At the end of 2016, the Foundation was founded on the principle of a public-private partnership of ATOS (Germany), Engineering (Italy), Telefonica (Spain) and Orange (France), sponsored by the EU with 300 million euros, and pushed by participating companies and venture capitalists, each with a further 100 million). It is financed half by funding and the other half by membership dues. Currently, the Foundation has more than 240 members in different constituents worldwide. The FIWARE Foundation has 20 employees from nine nations and its headquarters in Berlin.

The PAC Radar, which examined more than 120 European IoT platforms in seven application areas in 2018, ranked FIWARE one of 12 platforms in Best in Class. The others were: AWS, Bosch Software Innovations, GE Digital, Harmann, IBM, Itron, Microsoft, PTC, SAP, Siemens and Software AG. FIWARE stands out as the only nonprofit foundation with open source framework.

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