DOE Examines Interoperability of Connected Lighting System Application Programming Interfaces(APIs)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported the completion of the first study in a series about connected lighting system (CLS) interoperability. The primary goal of the series of studies is to examine and document the state of CLS interoperability at this early stage, with its multiple vendors, technologies, and business models. Currently, application programming interfaces facilitate the interoperability between connected lighting systems offered by various vendors or in some cases, even between separate solutions from the same vendor. Without APIs interoperability usually isn’t possible at all.

The DOE’s first study about CLS concentrated on the interoperability as realized through the use of APIs. The study explored the variety of such interfaces in several CLS, characterized the extent of interoperability they offer, and illustrated challenges, limitations, and tradeoffs of using such interfaces. Also, the study examined and described the system architectures and the API structure, information models, and nomenclature and investigated the evolution of a common integration platform.

As part of the investigation in CLS APIs, the DOE simulated two real-life use cases to demonstrate the relative effort needed to use each API to utilize information exchange to enable new features and capabilities.

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APIs are becoming increasingly available for connected lighting systems, and the APIs provided by current CLS vendors can be employed to facilitate some level of multivendor interoperability between lighting systems and can offer some level of remote configuration and management services, as well as present adaptive lighting strategies. However, in many cases, the DOE found that API inconsistency and immaturity unnecessarily increase the work required to realize these services and strategies and reduce the value and performance that they deliver.

Recommendations to Improve Interoperability

First, CLS developers should make their APIs readily available and ensure that documentation is synchronized with software updates.

Also, in terms of security, the lighting industry, and possibly the Internet of Things industry, should consider embracing a common approach to authentication that provides some minimum level of resistance to cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, API developers should explore strategies for reducing system integrator effort, and should consider implementing publish-subscribe models for reported data, and of prioritization or override or schemes that support adaptive control of configurable system devices.

For a look at the findings, download the full report.