Dominate complex ict solutions

ICT systems can be found not only in everyday life in mobile phones, entertainment equipment or in the office, they increasingly control our infrastructure, support the drivers of motor vehicles, monitor energy networks and control aircraft. The increasing complexity of these systems creates technical and fundamental problems for ICT that have direct economic and social impacts.

Short Description

Against this background, the present roadmap provides the actors of the Austrian RTI policy, i.e. in particular the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT), with a foundation for RTI policymaking in the specific field of complex ICT systems.

The exact definition and classification of complex IT systems is difficult and even within the sciences controversial. Complexity occurs when the properties or behaviour of a system cannot be easily predicted from the properties or behavior of the system components. There is a massive trend for networking different (i.e., heterogeneous) systems. Among other things this leads to difficulties in controlling the overall system dynamics.

Nevertheless, in many applications the integration of heterogeneous components has become indispensable and the trend towards increasingly complex "systems of systems" is irreversible.

The following areas of computer science research are to be regarded as central to the development of complex ICT solutions:

  • real-time systems,
  • adaptive systems,
  • autonomous systems and
  • rigorous design methods (rigorous systems engineering).

Complex ICT systems are found in many, very different areas of life, and of industrial and economic sectors. They make an important contribution to maintaining and increasing the competitiveness and export performance of Austrian high-tech companies. They also contribute to creating new dynamics in traditional industries.

Due to the great importance especially of machine and plant construction for the Austrian economy, complex ICT systems provide a way to establish Austria in the medium term and permanently as a technology provider or to strengthen this position.

In addition, they provide technological solutions to societal challenges in the areas of aging society and health, mobility, renewing the energy systems etc. Especially against the background of ongoing socio-economic trends such as urbanization, mobility, energy policy, etc. complex ICT systems are becoming more and more a global progress driver and enabler.

The central research fields and (technological) milestones of a roadmap for complex ICT systems for Austria, i.e. in line with the existing research and industry priorities, are as follows:

  • Autonomous systems

  • Autonomous, i.e. self-driven systems (self-driving vehicles, but also in partial aspects such as machinery and equipment)

  • Self-guided, mobile robotic systems, production robots, collaborative robots

  • Systems, that can be maintained predictively, i.e. that can control their own maintenance needs autonomously (predictive maintenance)

  • Autonomous correction of drift, calibration or general self-healing (e.g. in reaction to abrasion or partial failure of components)

  • Advanced service robots

  • digital assistants

  • advanced mixed signal devices

  • energy-efficient processors and memories

  • autonomic data centres

  • self-programming software

  • Adaptive systems

  • Natural man/machine interfaces

  • immersive (i.e. sensory rich) or smart user interfaces

  • adaptive control systems, also as a step to more complex, smart and networked cyber-physical systems

  • smart networked cyber-physical systems and massively parallel cyberphysical systems

  • rigorous system engineering

  • continuous verification

  • efficient utilization of multicore systems

  • certification of components and combining of partially certified systems to complete systems with certifiable properties

  • modelling and simulation (in particular real-time properties, utilization of cloud resources and their combination and new algorithms for real-time interaction

  • reliability and stability

  • specific methods and tools for security testing

  • mastery of several layers of security

  • cyber-attack proof systems

  • cloud connectivity for real-time systems

  • implantable and portable computing devices

  • system evolution

  • maintenance of legacy systems

  • smart sensors (increasing intelligence, i.e. adaptability, computing complexity etc. of the sensor systems)

  • open interfaces

Next to these technological and research fields, the study also identified fields of action that are interdisciplinary. These are nevertheless crucial for the support of Austrian companies in the field of complex systems, e.g. the development and implementation of technology platforms, the consideration of technological trends and development milestones in standards and regulation as well as the creation and maintenance of research infrastructure.

The achievement of these milestones and the associated advance in competitiveness require (not only) RTI policy measures in addition to the provision of appropriate funding in future ICT programmes. In particular, the strengthening of research groups at universities and research institutions concerning personnel and other resources is essential for sustainably harvesting the possible gains of technological progress in the field of complex ICT systems for Austria.

Furthermore, it is necessary to focus more on the role of the state as a consumer in innovation policy; in particular as many areas of application of complex ICT solutions would directly make the public administration or other state services more innovative. The existing funding landscape is generally judged to be very wide and stable base.

At the same time a reduction in the number of programs and their complexity could facilitate access for research institutions and enterprises, thus extending the impact of government funding. This includes the establishment of joint tenders for various programs such as ICT and production/building/energy programmes utilizing the cross-cutting nature of ICT in general and complex ICT solutions (especially in production).

To prevent top-down targets of research topics from reducing the attractiveness of funding measures, setting up of Austrian technology platforms such as public-private partnerships should be examined. These initiatives could develop multi-annual, specifically Austrian research and development strategies, and apply them accordingly as guidelines or even in the form of invitations to tender to the funding programs.

The establishment of so-called lighthouse projects (e.g. in the area of smart cities or autonomous vehicles) could be examined and potentially implemented through these platforms. In addition, the establishment of an interdisciplinary accompanying research should be studied to investigate societal challenges or acceptance problems (and thus barriers for national demand).

The report at hand is structured into 5 main chapters.

  • Chapters 2 and 3 describe on the one hand the field of complex systems and applications already in development and available to the market by Austrian companies on the other.
  • Chapter 4 analyses the background for the roadmap itself by discussing the specific Austrian context of complex systems, i.e. analyzing the importance of crucial, research intensive economic sectors, existing ICT-related value chains and through the identification and description of especially relevant groups of researchers.
  • In chapter 5, the study describes the complex systems roadmap and its main components and milestones. Building on the roadmap,
  • chapter 6 discusses recommendations on both the strategic and operational level whose implementation are considered vital for the optimization of companies engaged in the field of complex systems.