Service-centric network for Urban-scale Feedback system (SURF)

The SURF project (Service-centric network for Urban-scale Feedback systems) aims to develop a service composition software infrastructure that leverages mobile and embedded sensing infrastructures (e.g smart phones, energy/water meters, roadside monitoring units, vehicles, buildings, etc) to optimise access and usage of urban resources.


180,000 people move to cities every day, and according to the WHO, up to 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. Such population growth is resulting in significant pressure on already constrained city resources and increases the cost of resource provision. For example, urban sprawl negatively impacts transportation, CO2 emissions and the cost of public transport. According to a 2010 IBM report, in Dublin alone, the cost of congestion has been calculated at up to 4.1% of GDP. The demand for energy is increasing in all sectors, and yet the world uses 50% more resources than can be sustainably produced. Urban stakeholders need to have a better understanding of urban dynamics and they need to be able to make better use of the available resources. Urban resources need to be described through real-time data and presented to city dwellers through rich services.

Pervasive sensing and monitoring infrastructures such as wireless sensor networks and mobile smart phones are enabling real-time data collection from cities as well as exposure of services for end-users. However, existing deployments are disconnected, siloed, application specific and often not accessible to the public. The SURF project proposes a software infrastructure to unify management and control of these disparate monitoring infrastructures and to provide automated composition of services based on user requests.

SURFThe key challenges and contributions of the SURF project are:

  • orchestration and provisioning of a heterogeneous, multi-owner, geographically dispersed and partly mobile infrastructure in a dynamic, real-time fashion
  • achieving timely, accurate and fault-tolerant service delivery based on composition of services owned by different stakeholders with differing constraints and costs.

What Nimbus is doing

In SURF, Nimbus is investigating the problem of optimised network control in low-power, constrained, sensing infrastructures, where the network topology changes often and communication is costly. The goal is to make efficient use of available communication and sensing resources in a multi-owner, city-wide, sensing infrastructure. The Nimbus solution will allow the low-power, constrained, network to support concurrent applications with differing application and communication QoS parameters, while maximising the utilisation of network resources (such as bandwidth) and application resources (such as sensing or processing). Nimbus is conducting research in the following areas:

  • central network control inspired by Software-Defined Networking (SDN) concepts
  • optimal usage of network resources with Virtual Network Embedding algorithms.


SURF is a joint project between Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) funded through a joint SFI Investigator Award between Prof. Siobhan Clarke (TCD) and  Dr. Dirk Pesch (CIT).

For details on SURF please contact  Dr Dirk Pesch + 353 21 433 5560 or Dr. Victor Cionca + 353 21 433 5188