FTC to hold a workshop on #IoT privacy and security implications!

Posted on 17th April 2013 in Internet of Things

Bravo! I’ve been critical of the President’s silence on the IoT, especially in light of how frequently the Chinese premier mentions it — and  spends money on it.

Now the FTC has broken that silence, with announcement of a Nov. 21st workshop in DC on the Internet of Things’ implications for privacy and security.

Specifically, they are looking for comment on the following questions:

  • What are the significant developments in services and products that make use of this connectivity (including prevalence and predictions)?
  • What are the various technologies that enable this connectivity (e.g., RFID, barcodes, wired and wireless connections)?
  • What types of companies make up the smart ecosystem?
  • What are the current and future uses of smart technology?
  • How can consumers benefit from the technology?
  • What are the unique privacy and security concerns associated with smart technology and its data?  For example, how can companies implement security patching for smart devices?  What steps can be taken to prevent smart devices from becoming targets of or vectors for malware or adware?
  • How should privacy risks be weighed against potential societal benefits, such as the ability to generate better data to improve health-care decisionmaking or to promote energy efficiency? Can and should de-identified data from smart devices be used for these purposes, and if so, under what circumstances?

The commission is requesting written comment on these and other issues by June 1st.


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Optimum Energy Bringing IoT to Building Energy Use

Posted on 15th April 2013 in energy, Internet of Things

You have to wade through some pretty breathless hype in this press release about Optimum Energy to get to the real facts, but this Seattle firm is off to a good start bringing the IoT to building HVAC management.

They call their service “True Optimization,” and say their patented Real-Time Dynamic Commissioning™ (RTDC) system “continuously learns and adapts in real time, and manages a facility’s heating and cooling requirements to produce the lowest possible energy draw.”  It offers predictive diagnostics optimizing an HVAC system’s energy efficiency.

The company stresses use of Big Data in its methodology: they’ve accumulate more than 200 years of cumulative operating data, growing at a rate of 8 incremental years of data per month: “the data enables accurate benchmarking of equipment on system and component performance. Optimum Energy uses this information to provide decision support services, such as data-driven equipment selection and predictive diagnostics.”

The results are pretty impressive for the 66 million sq. ft. of commercial space it serves:

  • Reduced energy consumption by 125 million kW-hours
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by over 190 million lbs.

Matthew Frey, the company’s president and CEO concludes that“Optimum Energy is actively leading the creation of the industrial Internet by bringing cloud connectivity, data analytics and domain expertise to our enterprise customers who want to optimize their HVAC systems.”

I’m convinced that the IoT is our best way forward in dealing with energy and environmental issues without reducing economic growth.




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Happy #IoTDay!

Posted on 9th April 2013 in Internet of Things

Today is being celebrated as worldwide IoT Day, with a range of activities designed to increase public understanding of the IoT.  You can track all the activities on Twitter by searching the hashtag #iotday!  The Council site also has a lot of material about the events.

Enjoy: and take the time to explain the IoT to those you meet today (in that regard, let me put in a plug for my YouTube video introducing the IoT to non-technical audiences…)!

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Important step toward open #IoT standards: ZigBee embraces IPv6

Posted on 3rd April 2013 in Internet of Things, open data

Nothing is more dangerous to rapid expansion of the Internet of Things than proprietary standards that would impede free flow of data.

That’s why it’s good news that the ZigBee protocol, one of the longest running standards for in-home automation, has released its third specification for IPv6, which will enable expansion of Internet naming protocols for the foreseeable future, allowing assignment of unique identities to literally trillions of “things.”  The ZigBee Alliance says “it is the  first open standard for an IPv6-based complete wireless mesh networking solution for controlling low-power, low-cost devices.”

The ZigBee specification is particularly important for expansion of the “smart grid,” since so many addressable devices in the home, including smart meters, smart thermostats, and smart appliances use ZigBee for “personal area networks.”

“‘ZigBee offers a significant step forward in the expansion of IP-based control,’ said Mark Grazier, marketing manager and ZigBee board member, Wireless Connectivity Solutions at Texas Instruments. ‘Having low-power, low-cost wireless mesh devices that connect to a variety of smart grid IPv6-based protocols will further expand the Internet of Things.'”

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Cautionary note about self-monitoring, Quantified Self

Posted on 3rd April 2013 in health, Internet of Things

I’m terribly excited about the potential for #IoT self-monitoring devices and their potential to change the relationship between us and our doctors from an episodic, one-way thing into a continuous dialogue in which patients are empowered  and really able to work with our doctors to increase wellness.

Having said that, this Atlantic article by Thomas Goetz is an important cautionary note. You see, diabetics have been there, done that — and, for the past thirty years they have seen self-monitoring of their glucose levels as more of a burden than an opportunity. As Goetz writes:

“In the case of diabetes, the distaste falls into three categories: Self monitoring for diabetes is an unremitting and unforgiving labor; the tools themselves are awkward and sterile; and the combination of these creates a constant sense of anxiety and failure.”

Not very pleasant, and not very encouraging for the Quantified Self movement.

Goetz draws some important conclusions from all three problems:

“Each of these issues offers lessons, not just for diabetes, but for healthcare overall, as we look to patients to start paying attention to their own bodies, start pushing Fitbits and other devices upon them. First, self-tracking needs to be as effortless and automatic as possible; friction is the enemy. Second, the tools need to be designed with the consumer in mind, not the clinician. The best practices of consumer electronics need to be applied, and the data needs to be kept in the background whenever possible. And third, it’s essential that self-tracking address the emotional needs of the patient, not just their rational side. At the end of the day, self-tracking needs to be a positive experience, because it is such a demanding one.”

I don’t think we should have second thoughts about the need for advances in self-monitoring (just wait until the Rest Devices Peeko Infant monitor “onesie” starts saving infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome!) but the experience of those who have been doing it the longest must be respected, and Goetz’ cautionary notes should be posted in every QS device lab!

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Need strategic planning help with the #IoT? Get in touch!

Posted on 1st April 2013 in Internet of Things

During most of the past year I have been concentrating my efforts on writing and speaking about the Internet of Things. Now it’s time to rebuild my consulting practice. If you need help with strategic planning, marketing and/or public relations regarding the IoT I’d appreciate it if you’d get in touch:

W. David Stephenson
(508) 740-8918

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I’m quoted in optimistic projection on the Internet of Things

Posted on 1st April 2013 in Internet of Things

Julie Bort of Business Insider has just written a very optimistic report on the Internet of Things’ potential, and quoted me, particularly on my contention that the IoT’s greatest potential to change our lives may be in giving everyone within an organization near-real time, simultaneous access to the information they need to make decisions, do their jobs better, and break down internal boundaries through collaboration. Check it out!

PS: Julie referred to me as a consultant with INEX Advisors. While we collaborate on new business development and hope to team up in the near future, I don’t have a formal consulting agreement with them.

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