Fraunhofer FOKUS

 Founded in 1949, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft currently operates 75 institutes and research institutions throughout Germany. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the leading organization of institutes of applied research and development in Europe. Future-oriented strategic research commissioned by the government and public authorities is carried out with the aim of promoting innovations in key technologies with economic and social relevance in the next five to ten years. Work focuses on specific tasks across a wide spectrum of research fields including communications, energy, smart cities, microelectronics, manufacturing, transport, and the environment.

Fraunhofer FOKUS conducts research on digital transformation and its impact on economics, technology, and our society. Since 1988, FOKUS has been supporting commercial enterprises and public administrations in the shaping and implementation of digital transformation. For this purpose, Fraunhofer FOKUS offers research services ranging from requirements analysis to consulting, feasibility studies, technology development right up to prototypes and pilots in the business segments Digital Public Services, Future Applications and Media, Quality Engineering, Smart Mobility, Software-based Networks, Networked Security, Visual Computing und Analytics. With about 460 employees in Berlin and an annual budget of 32,9 million euros, Fraunhofer FOKUS is one of the largest ICT institutes of the Fraunhofer Society. More than 80 percent of its budget is generated through projects from industry and the public domain. Thereby FOKUS acts as a supplier and technology independent agent between industry, science and the public administration that can combine long standing scientific expertise and experience from various branches to optimal solutions for its customers. The researchers concentrate not only on the technical infrastructure but furthermore develop practical concepts, prototypes and applications in a pre-competitive environment. At the center of the research activities lies the development of cross-domain and cross–organizational solutions that are both interoperable and user-centric. Fraunhofer FOKUS has developed a number of concepts, prototypes and pre-products in the area of smart cities, Internet of Things, 3G/4G/5G, M2M-communication, AI, Next Generation Networks, Urban Data Platforms, Big Data and Open Data. Especially, Fraunhofer FOKUS has initially developed the Open Data portal of the city of Berlin, as well as the official Open Governmental Data portal for Germany (GovData.DE).

Fraunhofer FOKUS is currently developing the European Open Data portal (i.e. and is also involved in various research and industrial projects, e.g. for realizing the interplay between (Open) Urban Data, 5G, Internet of Things and the energy sector (e.g. in Smart Cities. It is also co-developing and supporting different standardization activities for digitalization in general and for Smart Cities (e.g. multiple groups and initiatives at ETSI, EIP SCC Towards Open Urban Platforms for Smart Cities and Communities, DIN SPEC 91357 Open Urban Platforms and DIN 91367 focussing on mobility data for real-time urban applications and services) which are of relevance for areas such as Internet of Things, Cyber-Physical Systems, AI and digital connectivity. Fraunhofer FOKUS is actively participating in a large number of projects (of industrial and research nature) including projects related to security testing (DIAMONDS, PREVENT, FORTIKA …) as well as the certification of critical infrastructures, e.g. Common Criteria Certification and Testing for key national and European ICT infrastructures.

In addition, Fraunhofer FOKUS is running the IoT Transfer Center that supports German industries and SMEs in the development and evaluation of IoT solutions. The various testing and quality assurance concepts developed over the years are utilized in order to assess IoT solutions with respect to cybersecurity, safety and functional correctness.


Principal Investigator

Dr.-Ing. Nikolay Tcholtchev
is a senior researcher and project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems in Berlin. He holds a PhD in engineering and a master’s degree (Dipl. Inf.) in computer science from the Berlin University of Technology and is currently working for Fraunhofer FOKUS. At the company he leads and participates in projects related to the areas of Open/Big Data for Smart Cities, Open Urban Platforms, ICT reference architectures for Smart Cities, Software-based and Virtualized Networks, Firewalls/IDS/IPS, Testing, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Voice over IP Emergency Communication and the application of Quantum Computing and Quantum Technology in industrial and Smart City use cases. 


Besides Nikolay takes technical management roles in multiple industrial and research projects. Nikolay Tcholtchev is involved in standardization activities and international collaborations such as “EIP SCC, Towards Open Urban Platforms for Smart Cities and Communities”, DIN SPEC 91357 „Reference Architecture Open Urban Platform” and DIN SPEC 91367 “Urban mobility data collection for real-time applications”, DIN “Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence”, CEN/CENELEC “Focus Group on Quantum Technology”. He is also a regular participant at international conferences and has more than 70 publications in conference/workshop proceedings and international journals.

  1. How did you started/joined/enrolled SPATIAL?

We started the idea of SPATIAL around 2019 when we had many discussions with Aaron (TU Delft) and Jason (Erasmus University) on the topics of AI, explainability and the need to increase the acceptance of AI technology in society and especially in Smart Cities, which the domain of primary interest for our research group. Later on, we started engaging with other important partners in the European research and development landscape, in order to shape the strong proposal that was successful in the rigorous evaluation process of the European Commission.

  1. What are your expectations in a project of this nature?

I expect us to have good and solid technological demonstrators, which show how AI can be made explainable and how it can be applied to critical infrastructures. Furthermore, I expect us to contribute to standardization and to have some solid ideas regarding how the certification of AI and machine learning can look like in the future.

  1. What can the research community expect from SPATIAL?

The research community can expect some exciting publications relating to the demonstrators (from the domains of 5G, Smart Cities, IoT, NG112 and cyber-security) and to the applied methods for explainable AI. We hope to make a sustainable impact through these publications and to give meaningful input and contribution to the currently running research efforts.

  1. Where do you see SPATIAL results in 10 years?

I believe that SPATIAL results will contribute to the definition and further execution of certification and quality assurance processes for the application of AI and Machine Learning in critical infrastructures. Within 10 years, such certification schemes should be in place and should be regularly executed by the belonging authorities. This would lead to increased trust and to reliable application of AI/ML in our societies and everyday life.

* Image Copyright: Michael Zalewski/ Fraunhofer FOKUS