Based on open standards, the Fairhair Specification defines a unified IP-based network infrastructure that enables streamlined building-automation systems with end-to-end security.
The Fairhair Alliance has reached a key milestone with the publication of the Fairhair Specification. Fairhair is an organization of leading companies from the lighting, building-automation, semiconductor and IT industries that aims to facilitate the Internet of Things (IoT) in commercial buildings. The Fairhair Specification defines a common Internet Protocol (IP)-based network infrastructure for buildings, independent of the application ecosystem, and based on open standards.
The Fairhair Specification is an open document and can be downloaded from the Fairhair website.
Fairhair’s approach will enable information exchange between various building-automation systems, for example lighting or HVAC. Today’s systems are typically self-contained and isolated from each other. When the systems become part of a common building-wide IT infrastructure, this allows building administrators to have cross-domain, streamlined control. Components speak the same set of communication protocols and become able to exchange information, while also benefiting from end-to-end security.
As well as the critical aspect of security, the Fairhair Specification includes other essential elements such as resource discovery and identification. In fact, Fairhair originally dealt with these features in separate draft specifications but has since consolidated its work into a single publication.
“The Fairhair Specification represents the culmination of several years of hard work by our members, in collaboration with our liaison partners and other organizations,” said Ruud van Bokhorst, Secretary-General of the Fairhair Alliance.
“We have shared our Specification with our partners, and adoption has already started. We expect that different SDOs [standards-developing organizations] will adopt various features of the Fairhair Specification and build these into their own standards.”
The Fairhair application framework sits on top of a generic UDP/IP service that provides a medium-independent transport over wired or wireless physical interfaces. To interface to the UDP/IP stack, Fairhair uses services provided by the IETF Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP; RFC7252) for resource-constrained devices.
For security, Manufacturer Usage Descriptions are a means for manufacturers to communicate what sort of access a device needs, such that basic access controls can be deployed. Bootstrapping Remote Secure Key Infrastructure (BRSKI), developed by the IETF ANIMA working group, provides a means to introduce devices into a system in a secure and automated manner including provisioning of cryptographic X.509v3 certificate-based device identities. These device identities are used to control which devices are allowed to join the network, to establish secure communication, to group devices into security zones motivated by application and administrative boundaries, and to provide the basis to set application-level authorization that limit the scope of what devices are allowed to do with other devices within and outside their security zone.