How the Civil Infrastructure Platform Project Powers Smart Cities


While much of the world’s legacy infrastructure is aging, and not capable of supporting the growth of the population alongside a more sustainable environment, members of The Linux Foundation’s Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) are working hand-in-glove to develop the software building blocks that will build smarter and smarter infrastructure powering smart cities (and more).

It makes so much sense. For everything from critical infrastructure (the energy grid, for example) to communications systems, water management, roads, trains, airports, public transportation and more to be upgraded and made more secure with software – collaboration and ecosystem partnerships are essential given the size, scope and requirement for scale to make real and lasting differences in how we live, where we live.

The CIP project is focused on establishing an open source “base layer” of industrial grade software to enable the use and implementation of software building blocks in civil infrastructure projects. Currently, civil infrastructure systems are built from the ground up, with little re-use of existing software building blocks, according to the CIP project’s website.

The CIP project is creating reusable building blocks that meet the safety, reliability and other requirements of industrial and civil infrastructure by:

  • Speeding up implementation of civil infrastructure systems;
  • Building upon existing open source foundations and expertise without reinventing non-domain specific technology;
  • Establishing (de facto) standards by providing a base layer reference implementation;
  • Contributing to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs;
  • Motivating suppliers to actively support these platform / provide an implementation; and
  • Promoting long term stability and maintainability of the base layer of code.

CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens and Toshiba.

Takehisa Katayama, Manager at Renesas Electronics Corporation, put their interest in CIP this way:

Renesas was the first semiconductor manufacturer to join the CIP project and help provide an industrial grade software base layer for the civil infrastructure system supporting the lifeline. In addition to these activities, Renesas actively carries out activities to provide super long-term support, high reliability, and robust security for embedded devices for industrial use. Renesas built upon this by releasing a new RZ/G platform this month based on CIP SLTS kernel for worldwide. This release is a direct result of our CIP activities and the collaboration with other members. Renesas is expecting that Linux will become more popular for embedded industrial products that require high reliability.”

At Renesas, Katayama is responsible for developing/maintaining the Linux kernel and open source software components that work on Renesas RZ/G MPU targeting industrial market.

“Industrial strength” devices from Renesas and similar companies are becoming more advanced with networking capabilities, as result of the standardization of IoT and Industry 4.0. Large enterprise customers including governments and public-sector agencies are making the move to Linux given the flexibility and reliability of the operating system.

Improvement of reliability and real-time operations is raising the bar on what is possible and desirable, and the need to integrate real time networking and communications supporting computing at the edge and in the core are also driving investment and innovation.

Noriaki Fukuyasu, Vice President of Japan Operations for The Linux Foundation, stated “In the era of IoT and distributed computing, safety, security, system robustness are becoming more important than ever. For example, nuclear power plants, traffic control systems and other safety critical systems used to be stand-alone systems, but now becoming connected.”

Fukuyasu takes pride in the CIP being the most conservative project of the Linux Foundation, but also one of the most important. “Public safety, security, and system robustness may seem boring to some, but to us, this is meaningful for society in the future,” Fukuyasu said.  

CIP recently launched a new sub-project called "CIP Core". CIP Core is CIP's reference file system composed by CIP Kernel (4.4 kernel) + Debian package. The CIP Core could be an excellent reference base software stack, particularly for civil infrastructure projects requiring a 10 year or more lifespan.

According to Yoshitake Kobayashi, Chair of CIP’s Technical Steering Committee and the Senior Manager of Open Source Technology Department at Toshiba, “CIP is committed to creating, testing and maintaining an open source software foundation needed to deliver essential services for civil infrastructure and economic development on a global scale. The CIP Core is a major milestone that will provide a platform for developers to easily build a reference file system and quickly test the CIP kernel with specific application and use cases. This customizable testing will eventually became a part of the product solution.”

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Contributing Writer

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