PETRAS Year in Review 2022


The PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity is delighted to present the year 2022 in review.  

2022 has been a busy year — with a wide range of in-person and online events, new cutting-edge research projects, and high-quality research outputs from the Centre’s researchers and partners from across the UK. Here we summarise PETRAS’s highlights in 2022. 

New Research Projects Transforming Knowledge into Practice 

In January, the Centre announced seven new research projects as part of the Internal Strategic Projects and Engagement Fund (ISPEF). The projects provide technology solutions for the betterment of society and the UK economy, as well as identify potential issues and risks across sectors, ultimately helping to ensure the UK is a safer and more prosperous place. The successful projects were: DigiPort, Edge of Reality (ER), ICE-ODS, PRISM, PubVIA, RED-AID, and SDRIOTSS 2. 

PETRAS research was also awarded  funding via the Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP), a 2-phase competition funded by DCMS, to create solutions with commercial impact from their cybersecurity innovations. Four academic projects were successful in the final selection stage for CyberASAP 2022/23. 

Public Engagement Events & Activities 

After over two years of no in-person events, the Centre was excited to welcome over 80 leading academics at the PETRAS Academic Community Conference that was held in London’s Goodenough College on the 16-17 June 2022. Highlights included project presentations and a Research Showcase & Networking session with key industry experts and government representatives.

The Securing the Future Event: Nurturing Research Ecosystems – Why Academic-Industry Collaborations are Critical to IoT Cybersecurity in November focussed on hearing from valued partners in industry and government. The event included keynotes from Sarah Sharples, DfT Chief Scientific Adviser, and Fiona Strens, Professor of Practice at the University of Strathclyde, as well as interactive panel sessions with panellists from DCMS, National Highways, Forescout Technologies, and Siemens.

In a series of Industry-Specific Workshops (ISW) organised in collaboration with existing and new industrial partners, the events reflected on state-of-the-art IoT technologies, and IoT-Cybersecurity across major industry sectors. This ongoing series aims to identify emerging IoT cybersecurity challenges and to explore priorities for future research. So far events have been held across the UK and have covered the following key sectors: Energy & Infrastructure (March 2022, Warwick), Smart Manufacturing (April 2022, Sheffield), Smart Places (June 2022, Cardiff), and Transport & Mobility (September 2022, Glasgow). Three more events are scheduled for Q1 of 2023 to engage organisations with interests in AgriTech and Food/Environment Sustainability; Healthcare & Wellbeing; and Financial Services. 

The Community Development Programme continued with eight events in 2022. These sessions offer our community opportunities to meet up, network and discover new things. Events in 2022 included the ‘Internet of Things, Digital Twins, and Physical Digital Twins’ session with Andy Stanford-Clark (IBM); and ‘How Sustainable is IoT? Do the Benefits Outweigh the Negatives?’ with Dr Mike Stead & Prof. Gordon Blair (Lancaster University). This series is hosted by Dr Claire Coulton and will continue in 2023. To receive updates on these events and more, you can click here to subscribe to the PETRAS newsletter. 

2022 saw new audiences engaged with many outreach events – building on well-established networks in the public and private sectors, as well as the general public.  

PETRAS was delighted to host an exhibition stand at NCSC’s CYBERUK 2022 in Newport, South Wales on 10-11 May 2022, receiving positive responses from delegates, reinforcing the importance of the Centre’s collaborative and socio-technical research approach. Attendees were able to engage with the PETRAS centre team, play the ‘Prometheus’ game sparking discussions on the relationship between cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT), and were invited to sign up for an online ‘surgery session’ with a selection of projects, including P-PITEE, RED-AID, SDRIOTTS and Reg-MedTech. 

STaR-IoT 2022 was the 1st International Workshop on Socio-technical Cybersecurity and Resilience in the Internet of Things and engaged an international audience. The workshop was held at the 12th Conference of IoT at TU Delft (The Netherlands) on 7 November 2022.

Aiming to communicate cybersecurity issues to a more general audience, the Edge of Tomorrow’s Prometheus game looked to raise awareness of IoT, cybersecurity and sustainability issues with the general public at Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2022, with over 500 people playing it. The game takes the role of a hacker exploiting IoT vulnerabilities while learning about the carbon footprint of IoT and the associated security measures. The Edge of Tomorrow team describe the game as being about “making the invisible visible, a way of starting the debate on what Data Sustainability is and engaging with the public on this matter. Awareness of this topic is the first step in changing behaviours and the game is purposefully designed with this idea in mind. 

In addition, the Edge of Tomorrow and Edge of Reality projects both exhibited at the British Science Festival in Leicester and The V&A’s Digital Design Weekend in September. Over the course of the two events, more than 900 people were given the opportunity to either choose their own adventure and take on the role of a hacker in the Edge of Tomorrow videogame or immerse themselves in a possible living room of the future through the Edge of Reality project.  

In October 2022, the P-PITEE project ran the first of their ‘Taking IoT for a walk’ in Lancaster as part of ESRC’s Festival of Social Science. Members of the public were guided on a ‘walkshop’ around Lancaster, in which they encountered real and fictional instances of IoT deployment, discussing the benefits, risks and language. This walkshops method has received EPSRC Telling Tales of Engagement funding to deliver similar events in Leeds, East Riding, Dorset and the London Borough of Hounslow.  

Finally, PETRAS delivered an innovative pilot using design and theatre to explore public understanding and attitudes towards IoT and cybersecurity. 15 older adults from Edinburgh designed their own provocative prototypes of IoT devices which addressed their hopes and fears concerning ageing. Participants then wrote and performed six short plays built around these prototypes and the privacy, ethics, trust and security concerns they provoked. 

High Quality Research Publications & Outputs 

In tandem, the Centre has produced high quality research outputs, including 29 peer reviewed publications, white papers, policy briefings and reports by its trans-disciplinary academic researchers.  

For example, the Reg-MedTech project launched a Standards Map for Connected, Intelligent Medical Devices (CIMDs) and published a White Paper titled The Future of Medical Device Regulation and Standards in partnership with BSI. The paper reviews the main trends in the existing standards and regulatory landscape applicable to CIMDs and captures critical challenges and potential gaps in this area. 

Furthermore, academics from the MASS project published a Policy Briefing on Improving the Cybersecurity of CNI using Modelling and Simulation by the MASS project. The Centre also held a closed roundtable event in March 2022 with key stakeholders from government and industry to discuss the outcomes of this briefing. 

The Power2 project also published a report on How to Talk about Cybersecurity of Emerging Technologies, followed by an online roundtable event in April 2022 with key stakeholders from government and industry. 

Additional research outputs included the launch of TrustLens Toolkit by the P-PITEE project aiming to help organisations use technology in public spaces and media coverage for the PT.HEAT project for the development of the ThermoSecure system that examines how thermal attacks can occur. 

Additional Highlights & Activities in 2022 

Researchers from the CyFer project announced an expression of Interest Call for artists, designers and creative technologists to respond to the science of FemTech cybersecurity, privacy, ethics and trust. 

In July 2022, PETRAS Senior Research Fellow Dr Peter Novitzky (UCL) participated in the CDT Future Fraud conference that addressed current themes in future fraud. 

In September 2022, Dr Peter Novitzky took part in a roundtable discussion in the Frontiers in Best Practice in Research Ethics Conference, part of the UCL’s Enhancing Research Culture Programme. 

The Centre’s work was also highlighted in parliamentary debates on an amendment to strengthen cybersecurity in children’s products in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill in March 2022. 

Researchers from the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence were requested to contribute to an experts’ feedback on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) chapter “Next-Gen Internet of Things” (forthcoming 2023). 

Finally, the Centre endorsed the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) new initiative calling for a global baseline for consumer IoT security. 

As a Centre, we look forward to 2023 and we are excited to keep you updated with the latest news from the PETRAS team.  

We wish everyone a happy new year!