oneM2M is taking concrete steps to modernize the standardization process and make it easier for users to interact with specification documents”.

May 2024 - In this interview, Roland Hechwartner summarizes the latest developments from oneM2M’s 64th Technical Plenary. In addition to chairing oneM2M’s Technical Plenary (TP), Roland is responsible for the coordination of the overall management of the technical work within the TP and its Working Groups (WGs). He is also a representative of Deutsche Telekom (DT).

Q: Would you begin with an overview of the key developments at TP64?

RH: We held TP64 as an on-line event over the week of 22 to 26 April 2024. In addition to the usual Working Group (WG) activities, participants focused on progressing Release 5 and discussions about practical ways to modernize the process of developing and maintaining standards. We also made plans for late-2024 by agreeing to co-locate TP#67 with the IEEE’s 10th World Forum on the Internet of Things (WF-IoT 2024).

Q: Let us begin with news about Release 5. What decisions did TP participants reach?

RH: At this meeting we decided to freeze stage 1 of Release 5. Industry participants involved in formal standardization organizations can tell you that stage 1 corresponds to the phase that deals with use case discussions prior to reaching agreement of new requirements that should become part of the new or enhanced feature set of a new oneM2M release. The term ‘freeze’ means that no further new requirements are allowed into a specific release, which is to say Release 5 of the oneM2M standard. Any additional new requirements that might be suggested via a member contribution would become part of a new release – i.e. will start the development of Release 6 of oneM2M. 

Error corrections and alignments for clarifications are still permitted until final approval of the Release. Following the freeze of stage 1 activities, work on the architectural aspects (stage 2) as well as protocol specific aspects (stage 3) progress until their respective freeze dates. Our plan is currently to finalize Release 5 in 2025.

Release 5’s development time was exceptionally long due to well-known pandemic and distance-working reasons. In recognition of this, members discussed ways to shorten the development time for future releases and to have new features available much earlier in a standard.

Q: Is this one of the modernization ideas you mentioned in your introduction?

RH: Yes, that is correct. oneM2M is moving to a new, git-based, way of working, which should support quicker release cycles by automating several tiresome tasks. One of these arises from the burden of manually copying text from one Word document to another. An example might involve copying a Change Request (CR) to a specification document. This consumes significant effort once you multiply the number of CRs to Technical Specifications and Technical Reports. At the same time, there is a risk of introducing errors as well as faulty formatting. These are a few of the reasons that motivated a change in approach.

The new method is based on the ETSI hosted GitLab instance, which is a powerful version-control tool used to store and manage baseline documents and to integrate contributions. The latter one is being used and adapted to fit the standardization process defined in oneM2M.

Readers can view early examples of this approach via this Git repository of Technical Reports (TRs) and Technical Specifications (TSs). In addition, our members developed tools that convert published and in-progress documents drafted in Microsoft’s Word format into web publishable versions. The latter are easier for industry participants not involved in TP actives to access, to search and to cross-reference in web articles. Anyone that has managed multiple contributors and version control will appreciate the improvements this approach adds to standardization procedures.

As of today, there are eleven Technical Specifications and nine Technical Reports developed by means of this new tool. As part of this innovative step, TS and TR baselines can be published immediately as webpage including a download page from which you will get the specifications as Word, pdf and ePUB formats.

Q: Turning to the activities of the TP Working Groups (WGs). What were the highlights in each of those?

RH: Massimo Vanetti (SBS) chaired the Requirements & Domain Models (RDM) working Group. Within the work item on MetaIoT, they agreed new use cases and potential requirements for metaverse-based real time smart farming. In addition, there were additions to advanced semantic discovery use cases and discussions about how to enable digital twins in oneM2M.

The System Design & Security (SDS) working group was chaired by Peter Niblett (IBM). Their progress involved agreeing changes for TS-0001 Functional Architecture including Release 5. There were corrections for TS-0004 Service Layer Protocol up to Release 4, TS-0008 CoAP protocol binding and TS-0022 Field Device Configuration up to Release 3. There were also updates on TS-0041 oneM2M-SensorThings interworking for Releases 4 and 5. TS-0008 and TS-0022 are now available as Release 5 versions. The WG also made a start on the study in the Technical Report TR-0071 on integrating NGSI-LD API in oneM2M.

Bob Flynn (Exacta) chaired the Testing & Developers Ecosystem (TDE) WG sessions. This WG is heading the git-based spec development and such also describing the new process for the benefit of other WGs. The new procedure has now been launched in every WG and considerable progress has been made.

TDE members also initiated discussions and planning for the next interoperability test event. The goal is to schedule and co-locate as close as possible to TP#66 in September. The suggested topics are protocol bindings, security, and CSE registration.

Q: In closing, what are the plans for the coming TPs?

RH: Our next Technical Plenary, TP#65 will again be organized as a virtual meeting scheduled June 24-28, 2024.

I also mentioned TP#67 which members agreed to co-locate with the IEEE World Forum IoT 2024. That will take place in Ottawa, Canada, during the month of November. During this TP, Professor JaeSeung Song from Sejong University presented overviews for two planned Industry Forums which would be part of the IEEE World Forum agenda. One is the Industry Forum on Global Data Standards. The other is on oneM2M Global IoT Standards and its Eco System.

The Industry Forum on Global Data Standards stems from earlier discussions in oneM2M about the need to join forces across several SDOs and Standards Forums to get an overview of existing activities. Since oneM2M re-uses established standards where they exist, it will be important to coordinate with other bodies if the IoT sector is to enable data interoperability on a global level.

Our outreach activities are at an early stage. We sent out a liaison statement to many organizations inviting them to join us in the discussion and potentially also at the IEEE WF IoT to start such a process.