Where Worldwide Collaboration for IoT Innovation Is Happening

iot_graphicBy Oleg Logvinov, chair of the IEEE P2413™ Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT) Working Group, chair of the IEEE Internet Initiative, chair of the industry engagement track for the IEEE IoT Initiative and director, special assignments, for STMicroelectronics’ Industrial and Power Conversion Division

There are many reasons that the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is ideally suited for its role as a prime collaborative environment for the worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) movement.

For one, IEEE expertise spans the established and emerging technology areas that enable the IoT, as well as its established presence in those vertical industries that are most impacted by the IoT. In addition, IEEE has a rich history of openly inviting stakeholders of any technology area, geographic market or size to participate in global collaboration in historic-scale innovation.

This sort of experience is especially relevant with regard to the IoT. Because while the IoT looms as a multi-trillion-dollar market opportunity, it is not necessarily just the world’s largest companies or industrial leaders from the world’s largest national economies that will make the important foundational decisions about its future. IoT innovation is being heavily driven, as well, by the startup world—by pioneering individuals and companies who are uncovering new business models and go-to-market approaches that embrace the visionary nature of the IoT. And this dynamic certainly has been recognized by IEEE.

Everyone’s Invited

The IoT is multifaceted and forces us to expand our horizons and venture into unfamiliar territories in search of answers. In some respects, this makes it similar to other areas of innovation in which IEEE has helped facilitate important collaboration. Take the Internet, for example.

Thousands and thousands of individuals—from startups and well-established companies alike—have contributed in the open development of IEEE standards for the Internet, through a proven process that is rooted in consensus, due process, openness, right of appeal and balance and noted for its rigor. Technical experts from across varied technology domains and industry sectors have worked through IEEE to extend Internet interoperability, fuel innovation and hone solutions that support an open Internet. Small and large players—oftentimes, competitors with one another—have worked side by side to help drive the development and ongoing refinement of such foundational Internet standards as IEEE 802.3™ (Ethernet) and IEEE 802.11® (“Wi-Fi®”).

One of the ways that the IEEE-SA is facilitating global collaboration in this early stage of IoT development is by convening open events that highlight IoT and especially the role standards play in its development. The IEEE-SA has hosted a number of events—in Grenoble, Las Vegas, New York, San Jose and Tel Aviv—that have specifically targeted nascent IoT companies and organizations. Startup sessions are planned also for the 14-16 December 2015 IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things in Milan.

In various ways, these events aim to serve as a catalyst for the continued expansion and growth of the IoT ecosystem—by allowing startup companies to introduce themselves to potential partners and investors, for example. Events such as these are critically important in the development of the global IoT movement. Startups are leading so much of the growing momentum sweeping across the IoT landscape, and, through the IEEE-SA, startups and large, long-established companies like my own employer, STMicroelectronics, together tap into not only broad technology resources but also proven consensus-building capabilities.

Open Standardization

Another way that IEEE is involved in facilitating global IoT collaboration is in standards development. Open standards are integral to the IoT’s growth. Standards are the building blocks that form the IoT’s foundation and ensure interoperability. Inventing intelligent systems and devices will ultimately be of far less benefit if they are not able to interoperate or communicate with one another.

With the IoT’s multifaceted nature allowing it to cross over many disciplines and vertical markets, laying a path to true convergence and interoperability must be a top priority. Globally scoped and widely agreed-upon standards, in turn, are no less than crucial for the development, adoption and expansion of the IoT. The globally open-development effort to produce IEEE P2413™, Draft IEEE Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT), is predicated on this thinking.

The IEEE-SA began convening cross-discipline workshops and roundtables among global IoT leaders years ago, and those conversations have led to a number of important activities both across and beyond IEEE. One is development of IEEE P2413, which is being created to define an architectural framework to promote cross-domain interaction, aid system interoperability and functional compatibility and fuel the growth of the IoT market. When completed, the standard is intended to provide a blueprint for the quality “quadruple” trust—protection, security, privacy and safety—and propose a reference model defining relationships among various IoT verticals (e.g., transportation, healthcare, etc.) and their common architecture elements. IEEE P2413 also is intended to identify planned or ongoing projects with a similar or overlapping scope.

The IEEE-SA’s portfolio of more than 1,100 active standards and over 500 standards in development include many that are directly related to the IoT. Additional standards development will be necessary, as well, in areas such as architecture, big data, cloud computing, communications, distributed intelligence, privacy and security of data and the smart grid. The IEEE-SA provides a proven democratic platform for the globally open development of the standards that the IoT will demand around the world.

Crossing Traditional Boundaries

The IEEE IoT Initiative and IEEE Internet Initiative are among the other examples of important activities that grew out of the cross-discipline workshops and roundtables that the IEEE-SA convened among global IoT leaders.

The mission of the IEEE IoT Initiative is to serve as the gathering place for the global technical community working on IoT and provide a platform where IoT professionals learn, share knowledge and collaborate on this sweeping convergence of technologies, markets, applications and the Internet. IEEE IoT is one of several important multi-disciplinary, cross-platform IEEE initiatives serving as a home for engineering and technology professionals in industry, academia and government.

The IEEE Internet Initiative is another. Along with technical promise and challenges, the IoT is also bringing to the fore important questions around technology policy. The IEEE Internet Initiative exists to connect the voice of the technical community to global policymaking for Internet governance, cybersecurity and privacy, to help inform those debates and decisions and to help ensure trustworthy technology solutions and best practices.

In addition, the IEEE-SA engages and collaborates with other global standards bodies—such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU)—in order to maximize the effectiveness and visibility of international standards within IEEE and the global community. Furthermore, the IEEE-SA has developed key relationships with organizations within context of the IoT specifically.

For example, IEEE P2413 Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT) Working Group collaborates with a number of industry groups, including the Industrial Internet Consortium, an open membership organization formed to accelerate the development, adoption and widespread use of interconnected machines and devices, intelligent analytics and people at work. Under terms of a liaison agreement, the consortium and the IEEE-SA are sharing their stakeholders’ expertise on requirements for the industrial IoT and exploring gaps in interoperability standards.

Such instances demonstrate how the IEEE-SA is purposefully not acting as an island in IoT innovation. The IEEE-SA seeks in the IoT to serve as a strong organizing force for worldwide collaboration—to provide a unified, globally open platform for the benefit of not only humanity, but also industry.


By strategically looking at the global plane of IoT opportunities for several years, IEEE today offers the full package of activities through which global stakeholders are gaining a better understanding and developing the IoT.

IEEE technologists are dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity, and they span all of the technology areas that touch the IoT. IEEE has communities of thousands of engineers, scientists, industry leaders and others across an unmatched array of technology areas, industry domains and geographic markets.

The IEEE-SA offers a range of market-driven standards and globally open events, standards development projects and activities within globally open processes that are proven for fostering collaboration across the world’s brightest minds. Rather than focusing on a specific component of the IoT or a segment of needs, IEEE is working to operate as a true industry partner in IoT innovation—with a variety of opportunities for accessing global collaboration in the field, for stakeholders of any technology area, geographic market or size.

The Mission-Critical Operation of Sending Halloween Pics to Grandma

bstl-virtualizationHalloween kicks off a time of heightened multimedia sharing, as families and groups of friends eagerly send images and videos of the day’s activities via social media directly to loved ones.

These days we take for granted all of the underlying systems that make this multimedia frenzy possible, but it’s fascinating to recognize not only how far we’ve come with infrastructure, but the extent to which IEEE standards are at work within the mix of technologies.

When computers first emerged, engineers expected glitches. Downtime was commonplace and every incident could be viewed as a moment of enlightenment. After all, we weren’t yet reliant on them for our livelihoods. Over the years our ability to cope with downtime has diminished. More is at stake. Standards hold the promise of fluid operations.

For example, IEEE 1363™-2000 addresses public key cryptography for heightened security. And a standard that certainly can come into play during peak holiday activity in the future is IEEE 2200™-2012, a standard for Stream Management in Media Client Devices. Users should also know that IEEE 1903™-2011 helps to enable and maintain traffic flows in local area networks based on the needs of consumers.

Ultimately, IEEE’s virtualization standards affect everything from email to Netflix to national defense. Thankfully, this makes Halloween a lot less scary.

Have you had “scary” experiences when it comes to network reliability? Let us know your thoughts and why you think IEEE standards play a critical role enabling communication technologies that affect consumers.

To learn more about IEEE 1363™-2000, IEEE 2200™-2012, IEEE 1903™-2011 and how IEEE Brings Standards To Life, visit our Facebook Album

IEEE Standards Education at Case Western Reserve University’s Engineering Standards Workshop

On September 2, 2015, Howard Wolfman, recipient of the IEEE Centennial Medal and the IEEE Millennium Medal and Founder and Principal of Lumispec Consulting, represented IEEE Standards Education to an audience of over 150 at the first-ever Engineering Standards Workshop held at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. Joined by panelists from CWRU, AAMI, ANSI, ASTM, CSA Group, and UL, Mr. Wolfman explained to CWRU undergraduates, graduates, faculty, alumni, and staff what IEEE standards are, how they are used, and why it is vital that engineering students have a working knowledge of standards during this evening event dedicated to exploring how standards impact education and daily life.

The Engineering Standards Workshop, organized by CWRU’s Kelvin Smith Library, was inspired by the questions of how to raise the level of awareness of standards education within the CWRU campus community and how address the need for standards education at CWRU. According to Daniela Solomon, Research Services Librarian for Engineering at the Kelvin Smith Library and one of the key organizers of the event, the idea to hold the workshop started small before growing rather quickly due to the great levels of interest with which the idea was met.

Ms. Solomon explained that she had “many conversations with Case School of Engineering faculty over several months…to gauge their interest in this workshop and collect suggestions on how to make it most beneficial to the CWRU community.“ The resulting enthusiasm helped shape the workshop and panelist list and may likely result in even more discussions at CWRU around the topic of standards education in the future. IEEE Standards Education is pleased to support universities such as CWRU that are interested in exploring more about standards and how to incorporate standards into academic curricula, and offers many resources to professors and students alike through its online IEEE Standards University.

As the world’s leading standards developer, IEEE is also a leading source of information and resources on standards, their applications, and their impact on designing new products, processes, and services. For more information about IEEE Standards Education, please visit standardseducation.org or contact Susan Tatiner at s.tatiner@ieee.org. For more information about IEEE, please visit www.ieee.org.

Panelist presentations from the CWRU Engineering Standards Workshop are available at  researchguides.case.edu/standards/workshop. More information about CWRU is at case.edu.

Photo courtesy of WDS Photography. Howard Wolfman is pictured fourth from right of the landing at the top of the stairs. Daniela Solomon is pictured second from the bottom of the stairs.

Photo courtesy of WDS Photography. Howard Wolfman is pictured fourth from right of the landing at the top of the stairs. Daniela Solomon is pictured second from the bottom of the stairs.

IEEE Standards Association and the University of Southern California Co-Sponsor Hackathon

By Jay Iorio, Innovation Director, IEEE Standards Association

USC Hackathon - Green, Shah, and IorioUniversity of Southern California (USC)’s Keck School of Medicine and Institute for Creative Technologies, with participants from a variety of locations on and off the USC campus, joined forces with IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) for a two-day hackathon called “Hacking Virtual Medicine,” the results of which will be announced at the USC Body Computing Conference on 9 October. The grand-prize winner will receive $10,000.

The IEEE-SA co-sponsored the event with USC, and two companies pushing the boundaries of healthcare-related data—Dr. Evidence and Akido Labs–contributed their data and valuable expertise.

Hackathon participants were given customized Google Cardboard Virtual-Reality (VR) viewers, world-class mentoring by the VR and advanced-technology pioneers at ICT, and the mission to employ VR technology to advance healthcare in a meaningful way.

Six teams set up camp (some overnight) at ICT headquarters in Playa Vista, the “Silicon Beach” neighborhood that is the former home of Hughes Aircraft and the famous “Spruce Goose” and is now a hotbed of major tech companies and cutting-edge startups.

Arguably, VR could radically affect a broad spectrum of human endeavors in a positive way, and few human endeavors are as important as healthcare and medicine. Health is the platform on which all else happens. So it’s not surprising that the hackathon participants — both the hackers themselves and the supporting personnel — were passionate, driven, and informed.  Although the winner hasn’t yet been announced, all the teams did impressive, meaningful, and inventive work that suggests some of the many ways VR could transform healthcare.

Key participants were Julie Berkley and Leslie Saxon, M.D., from Keck and the USC Body Computing Center, Todd Richmond from ICT, and the Akido and Dr. Evidence experts in attendance. Jay Iorio and Lloyd Green represented IEEE Standards Association.

The IEEE-SA is looking forward to expanding its relationship over the coming years with this interdisciplinary community, a group that is spearheading major advances by employing VR to enhance quality of life, doctor-patient interaction, and general health and happiness.

For more information on AR standards, visit standards.ieee.org/innovate/ar/index.html.

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IoT Interoperability Requires Security

By Walter Pienciak, Senior Manager, Strategic Programs, IEEE Standards Association

As Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives spin up around the globe, the race is on. And building from a foundation that isn’t going to require short-term retooling is critical for continued success of your effort.

Privacy and security have emerged as key requirements for IoT. The cost of not protecting data—both inside a closed environment and end-to-end through the Internet—is too high. Sensor networks such as those envisioned for IoT raise the specter of early-generation SCADA system build-outs, which taught us many lessons. Nobody wants a repeat build-out of early-generation, unprotected infrastructure controls.

The US government is paying close attention. For example, “Security Tenets for Life Critical Embedded Systems” is a draft document from the US Department of Homeland Security currently open for comments. The opening paragraphs include:

“Designing security into life critical embedded systems is increasingly important as more and more devices are becoming Internet connected smart things in the Internet of Things (IoT). . . . These devices have the potential to better mankind, but also the potential to be co-opted by malicious parties and do grave harm.”

Interoperability of IoT devices depends on widely accepted standards. Who’s putting out standards with security in the core?

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is soliciting final comments for “TLS/DTLS Profiles for the Internet of Things” and should be making a decision on approval in a few weeks. The content of the document “defines a Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Datagram TLS (DTLS) 1.2 profile that offers communications security for this data exchange thereby preventing eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery. The lack of communication security is a common vulnerability in Internet of Things products that can easily be solved by using these well-researched and widely deployed Internet security protocols.”

As we have seen again and again, existing well-designed standards can be applied in emerging areas. This allows quick development that leverages widely accepted solutions already supported in the market. Those building blocks are visible in this solid IETF effort in the security area.

IEEE has a blockbuster IoT initiative that brings together academia and industry for a full-spectrum approach and understanding. There are now hundreds of IEEE standards applicable to the IoT already developed and supported in the marketplace. IEEE also has a specific IoT framework in development with IEEE P2413, “Draft Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things,” which has seen steadily increasing buy-in and participation. Finally, IEEE routinely cooperates with its Open Stand partners, and P2413 adds collaborations with other industry organizations, such as SAE and the Industrial Internet Consortium. More collaborations are in development.  It’s a powerful effort that explicitly includes protection, security, privacy, and safety as goals.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency, is now forming an IoT study group (ITU-T SG20). The nascent group may work at coordinating IoT build-outs in developing countries that use best-of-breed solutions based on standards developed with wide participation following Open Stand principles, or it may put its effort into frameworks and standards it would develop primarily at the ITU. It remains to be seen what the group views as its goal.

In any case, with the need for privacy and security critical to IoT success, it is encouraging to see strong solutions coming out from established standards organizations. When security is built in from the start, many problems can be avoided.

Let’s get this right the first time! Is your organization willing to bet it’ll get a second chance in a market headed to warp speed? Be sure to share your comments and feedback.


Utilities & Augmented Reality: Challenges, Opportunities and Standards

By Rudi Schubert, Director, New Initiatives, IEEE Standards Association

Interest in Augmented Reality (AR) solutions continues to grow across many industry segments. The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) recently co-sponsored the Augmented Reality in Leading Utilities (ARLU) workshop hosted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) at their Charlotte, NC facilities on 27-28 July 2015. ARLU was organized in collaboration between EPRI, IEEE-SA, and AREA (Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance). With a focus on the electric power utility industry, the workshop drew a range of participants representing a number of utilities, EPRI researchers across several technology domains, government, and vendors of AR solutions.

Utilities view AR solutions as having potential to provide value as a complementary tool for enhancing the functions involved in electricity delivery. While compelling use cases for the utility environment are in their early stages, two key applications resonate with both utility participants and researchers:

  • Enhancing field worker performance through AR tools
  • Enhancing storm restoration capabilities to address and minimize storm related power outages

Worker performance opportunities build on applications being advocated for manufacturing floor environments and take those out into the field where the electric distribution infrastructure is found. Broad field visualization of underground and aerial plants can accelerate installation and repair times. Instructional aids using AR can support more rapid troubleshooting and, in some cases, provide remote access to distributed experts for consultation as needed. These capabilities can be even more powerful in storm restoration scenarios where rapid response is expected. Storm response can also be aided with solutions that look at triage to identify specific critical failure locations and quickly inventory the required asset needed for repair. Syncing this information through the supply chain can accelerate routing of required hardware for repair to the right location, thus reducing the time to restoration. A number of utilities are involved with in-house projects looking at warehouse case studies, which provide real time information for asset inventory and tracking to support as-needed hardware to address field issues and other needs. AR is increasingly being considered by utilities for use in operations, maintenance optimization, predictive maintenance, and as a means to connect field personnel to centralized experts for support.

IEEE-SA put the event participants to work with an interactive mini-workshop where attendees were split into two breakout groups to address cross cutting issues, priorities, and standards. One breakout group focused on augmented reality devices (e.g., smart glasses) by identifying utility expectations and concerns for adoption such as user acceptance, usage environment constraints, safety considerations, and other topics as identified by the group. The second breakout group focused on augmented reality applications and support infrastructure.

Both groups were presented with the same set of three questions. They were asked to discuss each question, build a list of responses, and reach consensus on the priority issues for each question. The three questions were:

  • What are the drivers in a utility to introduce AR solutions?
  • What are the obstacles and challenges to overcome in introducing AR solutions for utilities?
  • What technology standards (or related work) are needed to drive AR adoption in the utility environment?

The focus issues and priorities for utilities were highly informative. Safety issues were the dominant theme, consistent with the high priority on safety emphasized by utilities. It was discussed that AR solutions will need to be demonstrated as enhancing worker safety and not be perceived as introducing distractions that can lead to unsafe situations. Hardware communications and security were also key issues influencing utility purchasing decisions. A need for compatibility with existing infrastructure and an ability to use existing digital asset information will be drivers in assuring that AR solutions provide an acceptable return on investment. Barriers to adoption were also discussed with respect to the unique utility regulatory requirements, as well as acceptance from organized labor. These considerations, more specific to the utility environment, are not found in many other industries considering AR solutions and are often not at the forefront of consideration by AR hardware and application developers.

Relative to standards, a high priority issue was standards for safety (as expected). It’s an open question on how well existing safety standards for similar electronics are applicable or whether new and modified standards will be needed to meet industry expectations. Wireless communications standards were also high on the list. Will existing standards apply directly, enabling utilities to maintain consistency with existing infrastructure? Will AR solutions coexist in a utility communications environment? Will interference issues need to be addressed? These issues will all need to be addressed in driving adoption.

Other important standardization considerations include device physical connection standards and power management. Hardware ruggedness for sometimes harsh field conditions must also be considered. A general need to move towards plug and play interoperability has also been cited to assure seamless integration of AR solutions into the utility environment. Beyond the traditional realm of standards, there is also a critical need to address internal utility process standards (e.g., work instructions, work flows) and compatibility with the Common Information Model (CIM) used in the utility industry.

Augmented reality solutions clearly have potential benefits for application in the utility environment. However, many issues remain to be addressed to build the business case, as well as to gain the acceptance and adoption by the utility community. Compelling use cases, standards, education, and the unique utility regulatory environment will all need to be pursued to implement AR solutions into the utility industry.

See what IEEE-SA is doing in the AR space.

What do you think? Share your point of view on the growth and challenges of AR.

IEEE 1264™ Guides Utilities in Mitigating Animal Intrusions to Increase Grid Reliability

By John Randolph, Chair, IEEE 1264 Working Group

Many people may not realize that animals can be a leading cause of electricity outages, which has an adverse impact on overall electric grid reliability. In fact, most electric utilities have experienced the problem of animal intrusions into electric supply substations, which has resulted in equipment damage, interruption or loss of service to customers, and safety problems for operating personnel.

For example, on July 13, 2015 a squirrel worked its way into a transformer and caused an outage that affected more than 6,000 Nashville Electric Service customers in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In early June 2015, Pacific Gas & Electric Company experienced a substation outage in El Cerrito, California impacting 45,000 customers. In this instance, a squirrel caused a flashover on a key circuit breaker linked to multiple transformer sources.

To address these intrusions from the animal kingdom, IEEE has created the standard IEEE 1264™ to guide utilities in deterring animals from causing problems inside substations. This recently revised standard identifies various troublesome animals and the problems caused by their behaviors, while also outlining mitigation methods. What’s more, the standard provides criteria for applying mitigation methods, documentation methods, and recommendations for evaluating effectiveness after the method is applied.

From an earlier survey, North American utilities responded that the top 2 primary sources for animal-related outages are squirrels and birds. Other secondary sources include raccoons, opossums, snakes, cats, mice and rats. Yet there are a number of other rodents, insects, mammals and reptiles that can also cause problems, albeit these are less endemic overall.

The variety of animals and their behavior presents a broad challenge to overcome, and it is further complicated by differing geographies and seasonal weather patterns. Some animals seek the warmth and shelter substations can provide and “homestead” in structures or equipment. As a result, larger predator animals are then attracted to the substation as well. Typical problems that occur include animal contact with energized equipment or conductors, animal waste contamination, gnawing damage to wires or covers, and birds carrying in conductive nesting material.

For utility personnel, animal waste can cause unsanitary conditions, while snakes, bees, wasps, and spiders can also be a serious safety concern. On the other hand, utility personnel can unwittingly contribute to the problem by feeding animals, not properly disposing of food-waste, or leaving boxes, crates or containers outside too long and increasing the likelihood of animal intrusions.

When experiencing an unacceptable level of animal-related problems, a utility should establish a mitigation program. The design of the program can vary, yet is best supported by tracking details such as outage records, frequency of occurrence, animal type, customer impact, damage severity and cost. Monitoring the effectiveness of the program is important, as well as making improvements and adjustments over time. IEEE 1264 advises utilities to consider the impact on adjacent property owners and the community, and to research applicable governmental regulations and laws regarding chemicals or trapping.

Traditional preventive methods include providing cover for energized parts, installing physical climbing barriers and other various deterrents, and increasing electrical insulation levels. Substation layouts and equipment designs vary widely, so a trial-and-error approach employing numerous methods may be necessary to find an effective solution.

Fence designs should prevent animal access from under, over or through the fence by using smaller mesh fabric, smooth barrier sheets, and minimized space gaps. The fence effectiveness can be complicated or compromised by adjacent landscaping and trees, or also by stored material that provides a climbing aid. Line barriers are installed on the energized or guy wires before they cross over protective fences to discourage acrobatic animals from an aerial bypass of the fence. Where a fencing solution isn’t possible, barriers can instead be installed on substation structures to prevent climbing up into the energized equipment.

Some repelling methods involve installing fake predatory animals, such as owls, or deploying disturbing noise generators, chemical repellents, or perching and climbing spikes. More recent deterrents include electric fences and electrostatic shields, snake barriers, insulating coatings, and covers that provide a tighter secure fit on varying connection shapes.  There has also been an increased onus on vendors to design more animal-resistant equipment, such as transformers, breakers, switches and structures, and to eliminate or minimize small openings that can attract birds and other nesting animals.

Now that the IEEE 1264 has recently been updated, the IEEE working group is shifting its efforts to craft a tutorial that will be offered at future industry meetings, and sending out an updated utility survey. These and other efforts will further encourage utilities and vendors to participate in the standardization effort to eradicate animal-caused electricity outages and the problems they create for utilities and consumers.