7 border. While the deployment of driverless cars within Canada is comparatively still in its early stages, the study of advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicle technology has also begun to accelerate further north, such as with BlackBerry subsidiary QNX’s opening of an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre in Ottawa in December 2016. Fueled by high-speed wireless networks, the emerging technology behind autonomous driving intends to reduce the number of vehicle collisions, help commuters avoid problem routes, and decrease traffic congestion on our roadways. While these new vehicles are equipped with a multitude of sensors, Yu explains that enhanced connectivity will be responsible for adding an extra layer of safety. “Driverless vehicles are not designed to act as stand- alone units that run independently – that would be dangerous,” he says. “Collision avoidance, for example, requires vehicles to communicate through a wireless network in order to ‘see’ one another on the road, enabling them to react appropriately to situations based upon the information they receive and the sensor data that is being collected locally.” Several significant challenges remain to be addressed before the widespread deployment of software-defined and virtualized wireless networks become practical. While some of these challenges include defining what new technology will be used in 5G networks, Yu is also considering how to reinforce the security of public safety networks by collaborating with Defence Research and Development Canada, an agency of the Department of National Defence that focuses on the security aspect of science and technology. “Defence and safety agencies are understandably concerned with issues of authentication and reliability in wireless networking,” he says. “By focusing on prevention and intrusion detection, we can ensure the networks that make up our infrastructure will be protected from being obstructed or compromised.” Yu also emphasizes how 5G wireless will be a vital component of the IoT, a term which describes physical devices, buildings, and even everyday items that connect to the internet in order to integrate and communicate with one another in manners that benefit the user. Some examples include fridges that let someone know when they are running low on milk, or home security systems that can unlock a door from a mobile phone. While Yu believes that 5G wireless will be up to the task of supporting the IoT, Dr. Mohamed Ibnkahla, professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, is working to develop sensor network technologies that will help facilitate its deployment and upkeep. With expertise in sensor integration, signal processing and wireless communications, Ibnkahla was announced in late 2015 as Carleton’s all-new Cisco-funded Research Chair in Sensor Technology for the IoT, valued at $1.8 million over nine years. His research looks to apply the IoT in many areas, including smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, smart homes and cities, and even food traceability. With such widespread potential for the IoT, Ibnkahla stresses the significance of supporting the backend infrastructure of networks that will be in high demand. “We’re evolving to consume more and more data as a society,” he says. “It’s important that there be dialogue between 5G, information systems and sensor networks in order to accommodate this increase in volume and to improve data processing and transmission.” With additional applications for industries such as health care, agriculture and energy, Ibnkahla believes that sensor networks will serve as a gateway to improved practices and future discovery. “It’s a bit like using a telescope or microscope,” he explains. “We can of course see the world around us with the naked eye, but these tools help to provide us with clarity and detailed information that we otherwise would have missed.” Ibnkahla also believes that providing individuals with access to even basic information can serve as a powerful tool for change, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding issues such as energy and water consumption. “Having access to real time information will allow people to easily identify their usage levels and patterns,” he says. “We would certainly begin to see an adjustment in consumption behaviour as a result.” According to Ibnkahla, outfitting homes with sensor technology could soon help families shift as much of Dr. Mohamed Ibnkahla joined the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering in 2015 as Carleton’s all-new Cisco- funded Research Chair in Sensor Technology for the Internet of Things. Photo: Luther Caverly