Platys: From Position to Place in Next Generation Networks

September 1, 2009 - August 1, 2014

Platys is a collaborative research project between UMBC and groups at North Carolina State (led by Munindar Singh and Injong Rhee) and Duke (led by Romit Roy Choudhury) Universities. The group will share $1.8M in research funding from NSF's Network Science and Engineering program.

Platys will develop a high-level notion of 'context' that exploits the capabilities of next generation networks to enable applications that deliver better user experiences. In particular, it exploits mobile devices—always with a user -- to capture key elements of context: the user's location and, through localization, characteristics of the user’s environment. Current practice captures location at the level of position -- as geospatial coordinates. But what matters for experience is the user’s place: a location in conceptual terms such as “at home,” “jogging,” or “grocery shopping” -- descriptions that combine positions with activities, environmental properties, and the activities of other nearby people.

Realizing this notion of place requires that information from devices and infrastructure flow in ways unanticipated in current network architectures. It presumes enabling opportunistic interactions while preserving the users’ privacy and designing incentive mechanisms to promote cooperation without exploitation of any. The above architectural concerns lie far beyond traditional network topics such as routing.

Research at UMBC will focus on three areas: using Semantic Web technologies to develop the semantic models needed to represent a person's context and associated preferences, finding and exploiting the knowledge on the Web that can be used to infer context-related characteristics, and developing effective privacy preserving techniques and controls to protect users' privacy.

The overall project goal is to develop, demonstrate, and evaluate a novel network architecture that gives primacy to user experience. It will lead to theoretical advances in semantic context modeling, mobility tracking at multiple levels of abstraction, collaborative localization, and incentive mechanisms. Networked applications offering enhanced user experience will have significant payoffs for industry and the productivity and quality of life of citizens. A prototype system will implement and evaluate context-aware services in university settings with prospects of expansion to K-12 schools and public facilities.

context, mobile computing, privacy, semantic web

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Affiliated Faculty

  1. Laura Zavala


  1. Primal Pappachan

Principal Investigator

  1. Tim Finin
  2. Anupam Joshi



  1. P. K. Das, "Context-Dependent Privacy and Security Management on Mobile Devices", PhdThesis, Ph.D. Dissertation, August 2017, 1076 downloads.


  1. P. K. Das, A. Joshi, and T. Finin, "Capturing policies for fine-grained access control on mobile devices", InProceedings, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Collaboration and Internet Computing (CIC 2016), Pittsburgh, PA, USA, November 1-3, 2016, November 2016, 1290 downloads.
  2. P. K. Das, D. Ghosh, P. Jagtap, A. Joshi, and T. Finin, "Preserving User Privacy and Security in Context-Aware Mobile Platforms", InBook, Mobile Application Development, Usability, and Security, October 2016, 1356 downloads.
  3. P. K. Das, A. L. Kashyap, G. Singh, C. Matuszek, T. Finin, and A. Joshi, "Semantic knowledge and privacy in the physical web", InProceedings, Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Society, Privacy and the Semantic Web - Policy and Technology (PrivOn2016) co-located with 15th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2016), October 2016, 2146 downloads.
  4. P. K. Das, S. N. Narayanan, N. K. Sharma, A. Joshi, K. P. Joshi, and T. Finin, "Context-Sensitive Policy Based Security in Internet of Things", InProceedings, 2016 IEEE International Conference on Smart Computing (SMARTCOMP), May 2016, 1798 downloads.


  1. P. Pappachan, R. Yus, P. K. Das, S. Mehrotra, T. Finin, and A. Joshi, "Mobipedia: Mobile Applications Linked Data", InProceedings, 14th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2015), Bethlehem, PA (USA), October 2015, 1332 downloads.


  1. P. Pappachan, R. Yus, P. K. Das, T. Finin, E. Mena, and A. Joshi, "A Semantic Context-Aware Privacy Model for FaceBlock", InProceedings, Second International Workshop on Society, Privacy and the Semantic Web - Policy and Technology (PrivOn 2014), Riva del Garda (Italy), October 2014, 2829 downloads.


  1. P. K. Das, A. Joshi, and T. Finin, "Energy efficient sensing for managing context and privacy on smartphones", InProceedings, First Workshop on Society, Privacy and the Semantic Web - Policy and Technology (PrivOn 2013) co-located with the 12th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2013), Sydney, Australia., October 2013, 1374 downloads.


  1. D. Ghosh, A. Joshi, T. Finin, and P. Jagtap, "Privacy control in smart phones using semantically rich reasoning and context modeling", InProceedings, Proceedings of the IEEE Workshop on Semantic Computing and Security, May 2012, 1499 downloads.


  1. P. Jagtap, A. Joshi, T. Finin, and L. Zavala, "Preserving Privacy in Context-Aware Systems", InProceedings, Proceedings of the Fifth IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing, October 2011, 1839 downloads.
  2. L. Zavala, R. Dharurkar, P. Jagtap, T. Finin, and A. Joshi, "Mobile, Collaborative, Context-Aware Systems", InProceedings, Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Activity Context Representation: Techniques and Languages , August 2011, 2921 downloads.
  3. P. Jagtap, "Privacy Preservation in Context Aware Systems", MastersThesis, May 2011, 1551 downloads.
  4. P. Jagtap, A. Joshi, T. Finin, and L. Zavala, "Privacy Preservation in Context Aware Geosocial Networking Applications", TechReport, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, May 2011, 2026 downloads.


  1. P. A. Kodeswaran, A. Joshi, T. Finin, and F. Perich, "A Declarative Approach for Secure and Robust Routing", InProceedings, Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Workshop on Assurable & Usable Security Configuration , October 2010, 2260 downloads.