NMEA’s OneNet pro­to­col should of­fer bet­ter speeds, in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and net­work se­cu­rity.

Yachting - - DEPARTMENTS - by david sch­midt

The NMEA’s OneNet pro­to­col is poised to ramp up data-trans­fer speeds and help with net­work se­cu­rity and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity.

Myd ad pur­chased South­ern Cross, his mod­i­fied j/44, in late 2001. While she nicely ticked all of our off­shore sail­ing wants, her elec­tron­ics were dated. Also, be­ing that it was 2001, the elec­tron­ics con­sisted (mostly) of dis­crete in­stru­ments. There was lit­tle net­work­ing or in­ter­op­er­abil­ity. This prob­lem was short-lived, how­ever, be­cause my dad in­stalled a then state-of-the-art NMEA 0183 data back­bone, al­low­ing us to pipe net­worked in­for­ma­tion to our PC-based nav­i­ga­tion soft­ware. ¶ This sys­tem has worked well for count­less off­shore miles, but its late-1990s ar­chi­tec­ture didn’t fore­see ad­vances such as wire­less de­vices, ubiq­ui­tous con­nec­tiv­ity or the In­ter­net of Things. For­tu­nately, the Na­tional Ma­rine Elec­tron­ics As­so­ci­a­tion’s soon-to-be pub­lished OneNet pro­to­col ad­dresses these short­com­ings and more while aim­ing to fu­ture-proof early adopters against tech­nol­ogy’s ever-quick­en­ing drum­beat. ¶ OneNet be­gan in 2010, when a group of ma­rine-elec­tron­ics brand man­agers asked the NMEA to es­tab­lish a stan­dard­ized pro­to­col for trans­mit­ting and re­ceiv­ing NMEA 2000 mes­sages over Eth­er­net. In­di­vid­ual brands had al­ready been net­work­ing mul­ti­func­tion dis­plays with radar us­ing Eth­er­net, but cus­tomers had to stay within a par­tic­u­lar man­u­fac­turer’s walled prod­uct gar­den — Ap­ple style — to en­joy this con­nec­tiv­ity. ¶ The re­cently pub­lished OneNet stan­dard, says Steve Spitzer, NMEA’s di­rec­tor of stan­dards, will live in par­al­lel with NMEA 0183 or N2K back­bones and will use the same NMEA net­work mes­sage database as N2K, al­low­ing OneNet to share in­for­ma­tion with other net­worked in­stru­ments or de­vices in a com­mon for­mat that sup­ports in­ter­op­er­abil­ity. ¶ “I can’t overem­pha­size OneNet’s se­cu­rity,” Spitzer says. “It’s not per­sonal data, but [the boat’s] ac­tual nav­i­ga­tion and op­er­a­tions that could be hacked.” ¶ One way to pre­vent elec­tronic tom­fool­ery, of course, is to fire­wall the net­work. OneNet ac­com­plishes this in a process sim­i­lar to that of a smart­phone pair­ing with a Blue­toothen­abled speaker. ¶ “OneNet own­ers can se­cure the net­work so that noth­ing [but NMEA-cer­ti­fied de­vices] can get on, or they can open it up to a non-NMEA-cer­ti­fied de­vice,” Spitzer says. ¶ In all cases, the net­work’s owner has fi­nal say about all de­vices or soft­ware that try to join the net­work. “For com­mod­ity de­vices such as smart­phones or tablets, we don’t ex­pect the iPad to be OneNet-cer­ti­fied, but the ap­pli­ca­tion that it’s run­ning needs to be cer­ti­fied,” Spitzer says. As an ad­di­tional se­cu­rity mea­sure, all out­go­ing OneNet mes­sages are en­crypted be­fore be­ing shared; once they are re­ceived, other net­worked de­vices au­then­ti­cate each mes­sage be­fore un­lock­ing it. ¶ In ad­di­tion to bol­stered se­cu­rity, OneNet’s data back­bone de­liv­ers 5G data-trans­fer speeds of 100 megabits per sec­ond to 10 gi­ga­bits per sec­ond, as much as 40,000 times faster than N2K’s data-trans­fer speed of 250 kilo­bits per sec­ond. OneNet also pro­vides up to 25.5 watts of power over Eth­er­net to all con­nected in­stru­ments. And while N2K net­works sup­port as many as 52 de­vices, OneNet can sup­port a vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited num­ber of in­stru­ments, mul­ti­func­tion dis­plays and wire­less de­vices. ¶ OneNet’s most for­ward-lean­ing at­tribute is its IPv6 ar­chi­tec­ture, which is the most re­cent pro­to­col for in­ter­net traf­fic. “There are no more IPv4 ad­dresses avail­able for North Amer­ica,” Spitzer says. “Does a boat need end­less IP ad­dresses? No. But it’s the con­nec­tiv­ity that we wanted.” ¶ Ad­di­tion­ally, OneNet is de­signed to evolve and adapt as fiber-op­tic ca­bles and next-gen­er­a­tion con­nec­tors be­come avail­able, and as Eth­er­net-based ap­pli­ca­tions evolve. ¶ To­day, OneNet al­lows users to send high-band­width data, such as en­gine-room cam­era feeds, over the net­work. ¶ “A Maersk con­tainer ship might gen­er­ate 1 ter­abyte of data a month,” Spitzer says. “I don’t see most recre­ational boats gen­er­at­ing this much data. It’s hard to know where [tech­nol­ogy] will


go, but I be­lieve OneNet will pro­vide the nec­es­sary scal­a­bil­ity.” ¶ OneNet was un­der­go­ing fi­nal tests at the time of this writ­ing, so there are no yachts equipped with the sys­tem and no OneNet-cer­ti­fied af­ter­mar­ket de­vices avail­able yet. Adop­tion, Spitzer says, “will start with peo­ple who want the lat­est and great­est. I sus­pect the retro­fit mar­ket will be the first mar­ket, then new builds.” ¶ Hard­ware­wise, own­ers will need to in­stall at least one Eth­er­net switch that sup­ports OneNet net­work ser­vices and OneNet-cer­ti­fied de­vices, the lat­ter of which Spitzer hopes will be avail­able by 2020. There’s of­ten sig­nif­i­cant la­tency from the time a pro­to­col is pub­lished un­til it reaches ma­tu­rity. Spitzer notes that N2K was pub­lished in 2001 but only tran­si­tioned out of its early-adopter stage in 2017. ¶ “Even when OneNet is pub­lished, there will be some de­vel­op­ment cy­cle,” Spitzer says. “It might be faster than N2K be­cause Eth­er­net is more ubiq­ui­tous.” ¶ In the mean­time, OneNet of­fers sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved au­to­matic net­work-con­fig­u­ra­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties and mul­ti­cast rout­ing, as well as the abil­ity to in­ter­act with other con­nected smart de­vices by way of cel­lu­lar, Wi-Fi or satel­lite-com­mu­ni­ca­tions sig­nals. ¶ “A cruiser could turn the lights on and off at his home while he’s in Bar­ba­dos on his boat, and he could look at his [home] se­cu­rity cam­eras, all through his boat’s satel­lite-com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem,” Spitzer says. ¶ So, if you’re a yacht owner con­tem­plat­ing a new-yacht build or a re­fit, OneNet could be a wise in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially if you en­vi­sion cruises amid the fu­ture’s con­stantly un­furl­ing tech­nolo­gies.

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