The PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub is a consortium of nine leading UK universities which will work together over the next three years to explore critical issues in privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security. Funding for the Hub includes a £9.7 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which will be boosted by partner contributions to approximately £23 million in total. This project also runs in collaboration with IoTUK.

The PETRAS IoT Hub, is led by UCL and includes Imperial College London, Lancaster University, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, University of Bristol and Newcastle University.

Team: Chris Speed, Ella Tallyn, Hector Fried, Rory Gianni (University of Edinburgh).

Partners: Royal Bank of Scotland, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

PETRAS Website

Dynamic public spaces such as parks and festivals offer a series of challenges for IoT. Consisting of complex social, technical and economic networks, value transactions come in many different forms. From tourists seeking information about the heritage of a site, to families purchasing food from pop-up retailers, and a myriad of vendors requiring secure connections to support payments, logistics and communications, the contemporary public space is a complex environment in which contemporary digital economies give way to physical cash and basic telecommunications.

The Smart Contracting in Public Spaces project is located within the Ambient Environments Constellation, and sets out to better understand the value constellations that occur between the stakeholders who inhabit and move through public urban environments. Working with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Open Experience (OX) team who deliver innovation and design thinking to banking products and services, and the RBS Innovation Engineering team who develop advanced technical platforms to support services, the research team will develop user-centred solutions to support secure, easy to use prototypes for value transactions public spaces.

We will use design methods to explore user adoption and accessibility of various forms of contract, informed by research in a range of technologies including centralised and distributed services. Throughout, we will work with the participants recruited from the public who regularly use parks and events such as festival, to design and prototype platforms of exchange that emerge from participatory workshops. By working closely with these groups, we examine whether distributed ledger technologies are relevant platforms to offer trust and security between complex networks of consumers and vendors, and anticipate the implication of the EU Payment Services Directive 2. The research will provide new insights for policy makers that complement the UK Treasury’s preliminary consultation on Digital Currencies.

Target Outcomes:

User centred prototypes that offer secure models for value transactions between a wide variety of stakeholders and IoT devices in public spaces.

Ethnographic study of social, cultural and economic value transactions in public spaces

Mapping of value constellations within public spaces

Technical platforms to support secure value transactions in dynamic economic environments

Development of user centred design solutions that are accessible and easy to use

User centred, iterative testing in public spaces