Democratizing authority in the built environment

Michael P. Andersen, John Kolb, Kaifei Chen, Gabe Fierro, David E. Culler, Randy Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Operating systems and applications in the built environment have relied upon central authorization and management mechanisms that restrict their scalability, especially with respect to administrative overhead. We propose a new set of primitives encompassing syndication, security, and service execution that unifies the management of applications and services across the built environment, while enabling participants to individually delegate privilege across multiple administrative domains with no loss of security or manageability. We show how to leverage a decentralized authorization syndication platform to extend the design of building operating systems beyond the single administrative domain of a building. The authorization system leveraged is based on blockchain smart contracts to permit decentralized and democratized delegation of authorization without central trust. Upon this, a publish/subscribe syndication tier and a containerized service execution environment are constructed. Combined, these mechanisms solve problems of delegation, federation, device protection and service execution that arise throughout the built environment. We leverage a high-fidelity city-scale emulation to verify the scalability of the authorization tier, and briefly describe a prototypical democratized operating system for the built environment using this foundation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • Built environment
  • Federation
  • Microservices
  • Syndication


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