Internet of Things (IoT) merges physical and virtual worlds, creating smart environments. The European Commission actively cooperates with industry, organisations and academic institutions in order to unleash the potential of the IoT technology across EU Member States and beyond.

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What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of billions of interconnected devices or systems (‘things’) that can be remotely controlled over the Internet. These devices collect and exchange data that can be analysed and aggregated for use in monitoring, maintenance and improvement of processes, with the goal of delivering products and services to consumers.

IoT for citizens and communities

IoT-enabled solutions can play an important role in addressing most of these challenges. For example, the EU-funded project SynchroniCity has already demonstrated the significant benefits that can be derived from IoT solutions in the area of smart cities and communities. Furthermore, as this and other projects have demonstrated, developing a human-centric approach to the use of IoT technology can lead to solutions that fully incorporate fundamental European values such as trust, security and inclusion. The European Union is strengthening its response to these issues through initiatives such as WiFi4EU and the Next-Generation Internet initiative

What is the EU doing in the area of IoT?

The European Union is currently supporting twelve Large-Scale Pilot projects under the focus area Digitising European Industry in Horizon 2020, with a financial contribution of more than €200 million. The programme was launched in 2016 with the aim of developing and demonstrating IoT solutions for key societal challenges such as smart cities, smart agriculture, homes & energy, healthcare, and automated driving in Europe. This includes specific support to a large number of innovative SMEs and start-ups for putting these solutions to the market.

Foundational technological and development has also been funded to ensure that:

  • Future IoT solutions can interoperate and share data openly
  • IoT security and privacy is included by design
  • Europe can supply open platforms and standardsbased solutions for the Internet of Things

Policy issues

IoT solutions need to be interoperable, scalable, trusted, accessible and usable. Therefore, the European Commission continues to work in the areas of IoT system architecture and standards, especially on interoperability and cybersecurity, as well as on the regulatory challenges that are necessary to deploy the Internet of Things in a safe and secure manner.

How will the large-scale pilots benefit European citizens and industry?

Activage project: Smart living environments to support the elderly

  • Improves quality of life for the elderly, accommodating active and healthy ageing solutions
  • Ensures the sustainability of European social and healthcare systems by enabling new business models that maximise the value of technology, open data, open systems and open services
  • Creates and fosters a culture of social participation by engaging local stakeholders, including older people and their families

IoF2020 project: Smart farming and food security

  • Deploys IoT technologies that help make open-air cultural and sporting events more secure, safe and enjoyable
  • Benefits all stakeholders in the promotion and preservation of European culture while complying with the EU and national regulations, such as data protection
  • Supports the creation of new business applications and services by providing open data, developer tools and business models

Synchronicity project: Reference zones in EU cities

  • Delivers a high quality of life for smart cities and communities, while implementing standards of efficiency, security and sustainability
  • Opens a global IoT marketplace where cities and businesses create and trade common digital services to improve citizens’ wellbeing and grow local economies in Europe and beyond
  • Benefits 19 cities with more effective standards-based innovation and procurement, bringing together 33 partners from 9 European countries and 1 from South Korea

Autopilot project: Autonomous vehicles in a connected environment

  • Develops a range of driving services by employing the Internet of Things’ potential to improve automated driving

  • Accelerates the transformation from connected vehicles to highly and fully automated vehicles

  • Increases safety, providing more comfort and creating business opportunities for mobility services

U4IoT project: User Engagement for Large-Scale Pilots in the Internet of Things

  • Provides support with end-user engagement methodologies
  • Supports communication, sharing and dissemination of knowledge
  • Enables a citizendriven process by combining multidisciplinary expertise and complementary mechanisms from European state-ofthe-art technologies

CREATE-IoT: Crossfertilisation through alignment, synchronisation and exchanges for IoT

  • Stimulates exchange between IoT initiatives
  • Supports the development and growth of IoT ecosystems based on open technologies and platforms
  • Fosters the uptake in EU Member States

Further large-scale pilots to be launched in 2019:

  • Four pilots in Artificial Intelligence and IoT-based health prevention and care for the ageing population
  • Two pilots in precision farming
  • Four pilots in the Internet of Things, Big Data and Smart Energy

What's next?

Under the next research and innovation framework programme Horizon Europe, the Internet of Things will mainly be supported under the heading of Next Generation Internet. The objective of research and innovation actions in this area is to:

  • Contribute to an industrial partnership on smart networks and service infrastructures;
  • Develop and demonstrate novel IoT concepts and solutions (including realtime applications);
  • Underpin the Next-Generation Internet vision and make provision for predicting future events;
  • Trigger actions and move decisions to the point of interest in order to better serve the end-user.