Architecture framework of IoT-based Food and Farm Systems: A Multiple Case Study

By Stanislas Demeestere -

Many outcomes of research under IoF2020 are rather technical. Not in the least the work done by the work package on IoT Integration and Capabilities. The work package has been developing a reference architecture for IoT uses in agriculture, and has published their findings. This article is a comprehensive summary of their findings. 

Complex systems, such as IoT-based systems, demand all-encompassing reference architectures which often become very specific and complex. A large-scale uptake of IoT-based systems in a commercially viable way has not only proven difficult, but the field has proven heterogeneous. A large-scale deployment of IoT-based systems in the agri-food sector needs an architecture that can encompass both the highly technical IoT viewpoints, and the business viewpoints.

By lack of such an adequate existing architecture, the paper proposed its own. Basing its research both on existing architectures through a literature study, and an extensive case study based on 19 Iof2020 use cases. The use cases were a great example of the diversity and heterogenity in the application of IoT-based solutions within even the Agri-Food sector. Six different viewpoints were used, encompassing the domain model, IoT layer, business process hiearchy, deployment, the information model, and interoperability endpoints. This offers a comprehensive approach to building an architecture fit for upscaling IoT systems in the agri-food sector.

The paper thereafter applies its new architecture framework, combining the best viewpoints found in different frameworks, to the 19 use cases. This meant it included a ‘seamless translation of business design to detailed information engineering models’, it visualised the control IoT has over objects, it supported interoperability, and provides insight into the essence of the use cases, not overcharging the use case owners.

This comprehensive approach did not withold the model to be applicable across the different use cases, however, as the architecture can serve as ‘a common language for aligning the system architectures and enabling the reuse od architectural knowledge among multiple autonomous IoT systems in agriculture and food.’ However, the application in the agri-food sector is not the only one, as the architecture can be a foundation for a reference architecture in other domains as well.  Especially domains wherein the connection of specialised IoT knowledge meets a business side.

Drawbacks recognised from the reference architecture, is that the architecture is inevitably a compromise between complexity, and particular usefulness. This, especially because of the limited set of viewpoints possible in a system to be widely dispersed among businesses.

The full article is an interesting read, and goes deeper into different use cases.

Verdow, C., Sundemaeker, H., Tekinerdogan, B., Cozon, D., Montanaro T., 2019 Architecture Framework of IoT-based Food and Farm Systems: A multiple Case Study, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture vol. 165 October 2019, 104939

Please find it in the Computers and Electronics in Agriculture Journal

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