Incredible example of rethinking “things” with Internet of Things

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the epitome of the IoT-enabled product: the trash can!

My reader statistics do not indicate this blog has a heavy readership among trash cans, but let me apologize in advance to them for what I’m about to write: it’s not personal, just factual.

I’m sorry, but you municipal trash cans are pathetic!

Dented. Chipping paint. Trash overflowing. Smelly. Pests (ever seen any of those prize city rats? Big!!!) Sometime even knocked over. And, worst of all, you are so…. DUMB. You just sit there and don’t do anything.

BigBelly trash compactor and recycling center

But that was then, and this is now.

I have seen the future of trash cans, and, equally important, perhaps the best example I’ve seen of how smart designers and company strategists can –and must — totally rethink products’ design and how they are used because of the Internet of Things! 

At last week’s Re-Work Internet of Things Summit there were many exciting new IoT examples (I’ll blog others in coming weeks) but perhaps the one that got more people talking was the BigBelly trash compactor & recycling system, high-tech successor to the lowly trash can.

The company’s motto is that they are “transforming waste management practices and contributing to the Smart Cities of tomorrow.” Indeed!

I was first attracted to the BigBelly systems because of my alternative energy and environmental passions: they featured PV-powered trash compactors, which can quintuple the amount a trash container can hold, eliminating overflowing containers and the need to send trucks to empty them as frequently. Because the containers are closed, there’s no more ugly banana peels and McDonald’s wrappers assaulting your delicate eyes — or noses! Equally important, each is paired with a recycling container, which are almost never seen on city streets, dramatically reducing the amount of recyclables that go into regular trash simply because no recycling containers are accessible downtown.  These features alone would be a noteworthy advance compared to conventional trash cans.

But BigBelly wasn’t content to just improve the efficiency of trash and recyclable collection: they decided to make the containers smart.

The company worked with Digi to add wireless communications to the bins. This is a critical part of BigBelly’s broader significance: when the IoT first started to creep into corporate consciousness, of course designers thought about smart versions of high-value products such as cars, but lowly trash cans? That deserves real praise, because they fundamentally re-examined not only the product as it existed, but also realized that an IoT-based version that could also communicate real-time data would become much more versatile and much more valuable.

Here’s what has resulted so far (and I suspect that as the BigBellys are more widely deployed and both city administrators and others become aware of their increased functionality, other features will be added: I see them as “Smart City Hubs!”):

  • heatmap of trash generation in Lower Manhattan using real-time data from BigBellys and CLEAN dashboard

    instead of traditional pickup routes and schedules that were probably based on sheer proximity (or, as BigBelly puts it a little more colorfully, “muscle memory and gut instincts”), they now offer a real-time way to monitor actual waste generation, through the “CLEAN Management Console,” which allows DPW personnel to monitor and evaluate bins’ fullness, trends and historical analysis, for perspective. Collections can now be dynamic and driven by current needs, not historical patterns.

  • For those cities that opt for it, the company offers a Managed Services option where it does the analysis and management of the devices — not unlike the way jet turbine manufacturers now offer their customers value-added data that allows them to optimize performance — and generates new revenue streams for the manufacturers.
  • You may remember that I blogged a while ago about the “Collective Blindness” analogy: that, until the IoT, we humans simply couldn’t visualize much about the inner workings of the material world, so we were forced to do klugy work-arounds.  That’s not, strictly speaking, the case here, since trash in a conventional can is obviously visible, but the actual volume of trash was certainly invisible to those at headquarters. Now they can see — and really manage it.
  •  They can dramatically increase recycling programs’ participation rate and efficiency. As BigBelly says, the system provides “intelligent infrastructure to support ongoing operations and free up staffing and resources to support new and expanded recycling programs. Monitoring each separate stream volumes, days to fullness, and other activities in CLEAN enables you to make changes where needed to create a more effective public recycling program. Leverage the stations’ valuable sidewalk real estate to add messaging of encouraging words to change your users’ recycling behaviors.”Philadelphia is perhaps the best example of how effective the system can be. The city bought 210 of the recycling containers in 2009. On average, each collected 225 pounds of recyclables monthly, resulting in 23.5 tons of material diverted from landfills. Philly gets $50 per ton from the recycling — and avoiding $63 in landfill tipping fees, with a total benefit to the city of $113 per ton, or $2599 per month.

Here’s where it really gets neat, in my estimation.

Because the BigBellys are connected in real time, the devices can serve a number of real-time communication functions as well (enabled by an open API and an emphasis by BigBelly on finding collaborative uses). That includes making them hubs for a “mesh network” municipal wi-fi system (which, by the way, means that your local trash container/communications hub could actually save your life in a disaster or terror attack, when stationary networks may be disrupted, as I explained years ago in this YouTube video).

The list of benefits goes on (BigBelly lists all of them, right down to “Happy Cities,” on its web site). Trust me: if my premise is right that we can’t predict all of the benefits of the IoT at this point because we simply aren’t accustomed to thinking expansively about all the ways connected devices can be used, there will be more!

So here’s my take-away from the BigBelly:

If something as humble and ubiquitous as a municipal trashcan can  be transformed into a waste-reduction, recycling collection, municipal communication hub, then to fully exploit the Internet of Things’ full potential, we need to take a new, creative look at every material thing we interact with, no longer making assumptions about its limited role, and instead looking at it creatively as part of an interconnected network whose utility grows the more things (and people!) it’s connected with!

Let me know your ideas on how to capitalize on this new world of possibilities!

Smart Cities: opportunity … and danger if security isn’t a priority

Smart cities are one of the Internet of Things’ most promising areas — as well as one of the most potentially dangerous.

As this list of smart city initiatives shows, The IoT can reduce energy consumption, cut operating costs, and improve the quality of life. However, if hacked, it could also potentially paralyze an entire city and plunge it into darkness and/or create traffic gridlock.

As in so many other IoT areas, which scenario wins out will rest increasingly on making security and privacy in smart cities an absolute priority from Day 1, not an afterthought.

A recent New York Times article brings the issue to the foreground again, through the work of Cesar Cerrudo, an Argentine security researcher and chief technology officer at IOActive Labs, who showed what happens when idiots (so sue me…) decide not to make security a priority:

” (he) demonstrated how 200,000 traffic control sensors installed in major hubs like Washington; New York; New Jersey; San Francisco; Seattle; Lyon, France; and Melbourne, Australia, were vulnerable to attack. Mr. Cerrudo showed how information coming from these sensors could be intercepted from 1,500 feet away — or even by drone — because one company had failed to encrypt its traffic.

“Just last Saturday, Mr. Cerrudo tested the same traffic sensors in San Francisco and found that, one year later, they were still not encrypted.”

Even worse, Cerrudo found the same failure to bake in obvious security measures such as encryption in a wide range of other smart city devices and software.

The article goes on to cite a variety of very real cybersecurity threats to cities and critical infrastructure (don’t forget that about 85% of the nation’s critical infrastructure is in private ownership) including a break-in at a utility’s control network by a “sophisticated threat actor” that just guessed a password.

Among the measures Cerrudo suggests that cities take to reduce their vulnerability:

  • think of cities “as vast attack surfaces that require security protection just as a corporate network might.”
  • encrypt data, use strong passwords, and patch security holes
  • create computer emergency response teams (CERTs), for rapid response
  • restrict data access and monitor who does have it.
  • “Finally, he suggests that cities prepare for the worst, as they would for a natural disaster.”

He concluded:

“When we see that the data that feeds smart city systems is blindly trusted and can be easily manipulated — that the systems can be easily hacked and there are security problems everywhere — that is when smart cities become dumb cities.” (my emphasis)

Let me be blunt about it: whether in smart cities or any other aspect of the Internet of Things, if your attitude is “we’ll get around to security” after concentrating on product development, you’re irresponsible and deserve to fail — before your irresponsibility harms others.


BTW, here’s a great way for you to have a role in shaping tomorrow’s smart cities. IBM (who would have thunk it?  I suspect this is reflects Ginni Rometty’s change in direction and attitude at the top) has created People for Smarter Cities, a new site to crowdsource ideas for how to make cities smarter. It’s a great example of democratizing innovation, one of my IoT Essential Truths. I plan to contribute and hope you will as well!

GE & IBM make it official: IoT is here & now & you ignore it at your own risk!

Pardon my absence while doing the annual IRS dance.

While I was preoccupied, GE and IBM put the last nail in the coffin of those who are waiting to launch IoT initiatives and revise their strategy until the Internet of Things is more ….. (supply your favorite dismissive wishy-washy adjective here).

It’s official: the IoT is here, substantive, and profitable.

Deal with it.

To wit:

The two blue-chips’ moves were decisive and unambiguous. If you aren’t following suit, you’re in trouble.

The companies accompanied these bold strategic moves with targeted ones that illustrate how they plan to transform their companies and services based on the IoT and related technologies such as 3-D printing and Big Data:

  • GE, which has become a leader in 3-D printing, announced its first FAA-approved 3-D jet engine part, housing a jet’s compressor inlet temperature sensor. Sensors and 3-D printing: a killer combination.
  • IBM, commercializing its gee-whiz Watson big data processing system, launched Watson Health in conjunction with Apple and Johnson & Johnson, calling it “our moonshot” in health care, hoping to transform the industry.  Chair Ginny Rometty said that:

“The Watson Health Cloud platform will ‘enable secure access to individualized insights and a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health,’ IBM says each person generates one million gigabytes of health-related data across his or her lifetime, the equivalent of more than 300 million books.”

There can no longer be any doubt that the Internet of Things is a here-and-now reality. What is your company doing to catch up to the leaders and share in the benefits?

 

Global Warming: The IoT Can Help Fill Some of the Gap Due to Government Inaction

I won’t dwell on politics here, but  97% of scientists agree that global warming is real, and, according to the latest United National report this month, it is worse than ever (according to the NYTimes,

“The gathering risks of climate change are so profound that they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.”). (my emphasis)

Thus, it should be noted that the chances of significant government action to curb global warming during the next two years have vanished now that Senator James Inhofe will chair the the Senate Environmental Committee (I won’t repeat any of the clap-trap he has said to deny global warming: look it up…).

While probably not enough to combat such a serious challenge, the Internet of Things will help fill the gap, by helping bring about an era of unprecedented precision in use of energy and materials.

Most important, the IoT is a critical component in “smart grid” electrical strategies, which are critical to reducing CO2 emissions.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “Because a smart grid can adjust demand to match intermittent wind and solar supplies, it will enable the United States to rely far more heavily on clean, renewable, home-grown energy: cutting foreign oil imports, mitigating the environmental damage done by domestic oil drilling and coal mining, and reducing harmful air pollution. A smart grid will also facilitate the switch to clean electric vehicles, making it possible to “smart charge” them at night when wind power is abundant and cheap, cutting another huge source of damaging air pollution.”

And then there’s generating electricity from conventional resources: GE, as part of its “industrial internet” IoT strategy, says that it will be able to increase its gas turbines’ operating efficiency (which it says generate 25% of the world’s electricity) by at least 1%.

Equally important, as I’ve written before, “precision manufacturing” through the IoT will also reduce not only use of materials, but also energy consumption in manufacturing.

In other important areas, the IoT can also help reduce global warming:

  • Agriculture: conventional farming is also a major contributor to global warming. “Climate-smart” agriculture, by contrast, reduces the inputs, including energy, needed while maximizing yield (Freight Farms, which converts old intermodal shipping containers into self-contained “Leafy Green Machine” urban farming systems, is a great example!).
  • IoT-based schemes to cut traffic congestion.  As The Motley Fool (BTW, they’re big IoT fans of the IoT as a smart investment opportunity) documents, “1.9 billion gallons of fuel is consumed every year from drivers sitting in traffic. That’s 186 million tons of unnecessary CO2 emissions each year just in the U.S. “

The Motley Fool concludes that, combined, a wide range of IoT initiatives can reduce carbon emissions significantly while increasing the economy’s efficiency:

“A recent report by the Carbon War Room estimates that the incorporation of machine-to-machine communication in the energy, transportation, built environment (its fancy term for buildings), and agriculture sectors could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 9.1 gigatons of CO2 equivalent annually. That’s 18.2 trillion pounds, or equivalent to eliminating all of the United States’ and India’s total greenhouse gas emissions combined, and more than triple the reductions we can expect with an extremely ambitious alternative energy conversion program.

“Increased communication between everything — engines, appliances, generators, automobiles — allows for instant feedback for more efficient travel routes, optimized fertilizer and water consumption to reduce deforestation, real-time monitoring of electricity consumption and instant feedback to generators, and fully integrated heating, cooling, and lighting systems that can adjust for human occupancy.”

It always amuses me that self-styled political conservatives are frequently the ones who are least concerned with conserving resources. Perhaps the IoT, by making businesses more efficient, and therefore more profitable, may be able to bring political conservatives into the energy efficiency fold!

Live Blogging from IoT Global Summit

I’ll be live-blogging for the next two days from the 2nd Internet of Things Global Summit.

  • Edith Ramirez, FTC chair:
    • potential for astounding benefits to society, transforming every activity
    • risks: very technology that allows this can also gather info for companies and your next employer
    • possible consumer loss of confidence in connected devices if they don’t think privacy w
    • 3 challenges:
      • adverse uses
      • security of the data
      • collection of the data
    • key steps companies should take:
      • security front and center
      • deidentify data
      • transparent policies
    • data will provide “startlingly complete pictures of us” — sensors can already identify our moods, even progression of neurological diseases
    • how will the data be used? will TV habits be shared with potential employers? Will it paint picture of you that others will see, but you won’t
    • will it exacerbate current socio-economic disparities?
    • potential for data breaches such as Target grows as more data is collected
    • FTC found some companies don’t take even most basic protections. Small size and cheap cost of some sensors may inhibit data protections
    • steps:
      • build security in from beginning
      • security risk assessment
      • test security measures before launch
      • implement defense and depth approach
      • encryption, especially for health data.
    • FTC action against TrendNet
    • follow principle of “data minimization,” only what’s needed, and dispose of it afterwards.
  • she’s skeptical of belief that there should be no limits on collection of data (because of possible benefits)
    • de-identified data: need dual approach — commit to not re-identify data
    • clear and simple notice to consumers about possible use of data.
    • Apple touting that it doesn’t sell data from Health App — critical to building consumer trust
    • transparency: major FTC priority. FTC review of mobile apps showed broad and vague standards on data collection & use.
  • Ilkka Lakaniemi, chair, FIWARE Future Internet PPP, EU perspective on IoT:
    • lot easier to start IoT businesses in Silicon Valley because of redundant regulations in EU
    • Open Standard Platform + Sustainable Innovation Ecosystem. “Synergy Platform”
  • Mark Bartolomeo,   vp of integrated solutions, Verizon:
    • Bakken Shale area visit: “landscape of IoT” solutions — pipeline monitoring, water monitoring, etc.
    • concerned about rapid urbanization: 30% of city congestion caused by drivers looking for parking. $120B wasted in time and fuel yearly.
    • cars: “seamless nodes” of system.
    • market drivers & barriers:
      • increased operational efficiency, new revenue streams, better service, comply with regulators, build competitive edge
      • fragmented ecosystem, complex development, significant back end obstacles
    • they want integrated systems.
    • need to remove barriers: aging infrastructure, congestion, public safety, economics
    • remove complexity
    • economies of scale: common services
    • trend to car sharing, smart grid
    • yea: highlighting intellistreets — one of my 1st fav IoT devices!!
    • Verizon working primarily on parking & traffic congestion on the East Coast, and water management in CA.

Smart Cities:

  • Nigel Cameron: nation-state receding, cities and corporations on ascendency
  • Sokwoo Rhee, NIST: Cyber-Physical Systems — emphasis on systems dynamics, data fed back into system, makes it autonomous.  Did Smart America Challenge with White House. Fragmentation on device level. Demonstrate tangible effects through collaborations. Examples: health care systems, transactive energy management, smart emergency response, water distribution, air quality. 24 projects.  Round Two is application of the projects to actual cities. Now 26 teams.
  • Joseph Bradley, VP, IoT Practice, Cisco Consulting: value isn’t in the devices, but the connections. Intersection of people, data, process, and things. Increase City of Nice’s parking revenue 40-60% without raising taxes through smart parking. They project $19 trillion in value over 10 years from combo of public and private innovations. Smart street lighting: reduces crime, property values increase, free wi-fi from the connected street lights. Barcelona is Exhibit A for benefits. Need: comprehensive strategy (privacy is a contextual issue: depends on the benefits you receive), scalability, apps, data analytics, transparency, powerful network foundation, IoT catalyst for breaking down silos, IoT must address people and process.
  • Ron Sege, chair and ceo of Echelon Corp: got started with smart buildings, 25 yrs. old. Why now with IoT: ubiquitous communications, low cost, hyper-competition, cloud. They do outdoor & indoor lighting and building systems. Challenges: move to one infrastructure/multiple use cases, will IT learn about OT & visa-versa?, reliability: critical infrastructure can’t fail & must respond instantly.
  • Christopher Wolf, Future of Privacy Forum: flexible, use-based privacy standards. Industry-wide approach to privacy: auto industry last week told NISTA about uniform privacy standards for connected cars (neat: will have to blog that…).
  • Peter Marx, chief innovation officer, City of LA:  big program to reduce street lights with LEDs: changed whole look of city at night & saves lot of money. 6 rail lines being built there. Adding smart meters for water & power. EV chargers on street lights. Held hackathon for young people to come up with ideas to improve city. Procurement cycles are sooo arcane that he suggests entrepreneurs don’t do business with city — he just tries to enable them.

Outside the City:

  • Darrin Mylet, Adaptrum: Using “TV white space spectrum” in non-urban areas. Spectrum access critical:need mix of spectrum types. Where do we need spectrum? Most need in non-line-of-sight areas such as trees, etc. Examples: not only rural, but also some urban areas (San Jose); Singapore; Africa; redwood forests;
  • Arturo Kuigami, World Bank: examples in developing nations: (he’s from Peru); most of global migration is to smaller cities; look at cities as ecosystems; “maker movement” is important — different business models: they partnered with Intel and MIT on “FabLabs” in Barcelona this year. MoMo — water access point monitoring in Tanzania.  Miroculus: created by a global ad hoc team — cheap way to make cancer diagnosis: have identified 3-4 types of cancers it can diagnose. Spirometer to measure COPD, made by a 15-year old! “IoT can be a global level playing field.”
  • Chris Rezendes, INEX Advisors: Profitable sustainability: by instrumenting the physical world, we can create huge opportunities for a wide range of people outside our companies. Focusing on doing a better job of instrumenting and monitoring our groundwater supplies: very little being done in SW US right now (INEX investing in a startup that is starting this monitoring). If we have better data on groundwater, we can do a better job of managing it. “Embrace complexity upfront” to be successful.
  • Shudong Chen, Chinese Academy of Sciences: talking about the Chinese food security crisis because of milk production without a food production license.  Government launched “Wuxi Food Science & Technology Park.”

Smart Homes:

  • Tobin Richardson, Zigbee Alliance: critical role of open, global standards. Zigbee LCD lights now down to $15.
  • Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies: Leader in Zigbee-based smart home devices. Smart home waay more complex than wi-fi.  1m chips a week, vs. 1 million for whole year of 2011. “Not scratching the surface.” Small data — many small packets.
  • Todd Green, CEO PubNub: data stream network.
  • no killer app for the smart home..  Controlling by your phone not really that great a method.
  • FTC agrees with me: a few adverse stories (TrendNet baby cam example) can be really bad for an industry in its infancy.
  • always hole in security. For example, you can tell if no one’s home because volume of wi-fi data drops.W
  • FTC: consumer ed critical part of their work. Working now on best practices for home data protection.
  • mitigation after a security breach? Always be open, communicate (but most hunker down!).

DAY TWO

Beyond Cost Savings: Forging a Path to Revenue Generation

  • Eric Openshaw: (had tech problems during his preso: very important one — check the Deloitte The Internet of Things white paper for details) cost savings through IoT not enough for sustainable advantage: need to produce new revenue to do that. Defined ecosystem shaping up, which creates clarity, breaks down silos.
    • areas: smart grid, health care, home automation, cars, industrial automation
    • study the GE jet model for health care: what if doctors were paid to keep us healthy.
    • need comprehensive understanding of the change issues
    • be very specific: singular asset class, etc. — so you get early victories
    • companies will have overarching, finite roadmap
    • security & privacy dichotomy: differentiate between personal health care data and data from your washing machine. Most of us will share all sorts of information if there’s something in return
    • get focused on customer and product life cycle — that’s where the money will be. Focus on operating metric level. This is most far-reaching tech change he’s seen.

Managing Spectrum Needs

  • Julius Knapp, Chief, FCC Office of Engineering & Technology: new opportunity to combine licensed and unlicensed space. Described a number of FCC actions to reconsider role of various types of spectrum. “Hard to predict I0T’s long-term spectrum needs” because industry is new: they’ll watch developments in the field.
  • Prof. H. Nwana, exec. director of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance: most spectrum usually not used in most places at most time.  His group working to use changes to spectrum to end digital divide: (used incredible map showing how much of world, including US, China, India, W. Europe, could be fitted into Africa).
  • Carla Rath, VP for Wireless Policy, Verizon: “in my world, the network is assumed.”  Need for more spectrum — because of growth in mobile demand. Praises US govt. for trying to make more spectrum available. Don’t want to pigeonhole IoT in certain part of spectrum: allow flexibility.  Tension between flexibility and desire for global standards when it comes to IoT.
  • Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum policy, Ofcom UK:  no single solution.  Market determines best use. Some applications become critical (public safety, etc.) — must make sure people using those are aware of chance of interference.
  • Hazem Moakkit, vp of spectrum development for 03b (UK satellite provider for underserved areas of developing world): “digital divide widened by IoT if all are not on board.” Fair allocation of spectrum vital.
  • interesting question: referred to executive of a major farm equipment manufacturer whose products are now sensor-laden (must be John Deere…) and is frustrated because the equipment won’t work in countries such as Germany due to different bands.

Architecting the IoT: Sensing, Networking & Analytics: 

  • Tom Davenport: IoT highly unpredictable. “Great things about standards is there’s so many to choose from” — LOL.  Will IoT revolution be more top down or bottom up?
  • Gary Butler, CEO, Camgian: announcing an edge system for IoT. Driven by sensor info. Need new networking architecture to combine sensing and analytics to optimize business processes, manage risk. Systems now built from legacy equipment, not scalable. They’re announcing new platform: Egburt. Applicable to smart cities, retailing, ifrastructure (I’ll blog more about this soon!!). “Intelligence out of chaos.” Anomaly detection. Real-time analysis at the device level. Focus on edge computing. Must strengthen the ROI.
  • Xiaolin Lu, Texas Instruments fellow & director of IoT Lab: Working in wearables, smart manufacturing, smart cities, smart manufacturing, health care, automotive. TI claims it has all IoT building blocks: nodes, gateway/bridge or router/cloud.  Power needs are really critical, with real emphasis on energy harvesting from your body heat, vibration, etc. Challenges: sensing and data analytics, robust connectivity, power, security, complexity, consolidation of infrastructure and data. Big advocates for standards. They work on smart grid.
  • Steve Halliday, president, RAIN RFID: very involved in standards. 4 BILLION RFID tags shipped last year. Don’t always want IP devices. Power not an issue w/ RFID because they get their power from the reader. Think RFID will be underpinning of IoT for long time. Lot of confusion in many areas about IoT, especially in manufacturing.
  • Sky Mathews, IBM CTO: IBM was one of earliest in the field, with Smarter Planet. Lot of early ones were RFID. A variety of patterns emerging for where and how data is processed. What APIs do you want to expose to the world? “That’s where the real leaps of magnitude will occur” — so design that in from beginning.

‘People’ Side of the IoT: meeting consumer expectations:

  • Mark Eichorn, asst. director, Consumer Protection Bureau, FTC: companies that have made traditional appliances & now web-enable them aren’t always ready to deal with data theft. Security and privacy: a lot don’t have privacy policies at all. At their workshop, talk about people being able to hack your insulin readings.
  • Daniel Castro, sr. analyst, Center for Data Innovation: thinks that privacy issue has been misconstrued: what people really care about is keeping data from government intrusion. Can car be designed so a cop could pull it over automatically (wow: that’s a thought!). Chance for more liability with misuse of #IoT data.
  • Linda Sherry, director of national priorities, Consumer Action: “convenience, expectations and trust.” “What is the IoT doing beside working?” Connecting everything may disenfranchise those who aren’t connected. Need to register those who collect data – hmm. Hadn’t heard that one before. Even human rights risks, stalking, etc. — these issues must be thought about. Can algorithms really be trusted on issues such as insurance coverage? How do you define particularly sensitive personal data? “Hobbling the unconnected” when most are connected? “Saving consumers from themselves.” “Document the harms.” Make sure groups with less $ can really participate in multi-stakeholder negotiations.
  • Stephen Pattison, vp of public affairs, ARM Holdings: disagrees with Linda about slowing things down: we want to speed up IoT as instrument of transformation. We need business model for it. Talks about how smart phone didn’t explode until providers started subsidizing purchase. He suspects that one model might be that a company would provide you whole range of smart appliances in return for your data. “Getting data right matters.” “Freak events” drive concerns about data security & privacy: they generate concern and, sometimes, “heavy-handed” regulation.
    Industry must work together on framework for data that creates confidence by public. Concerns about data are holding back investment in the field. They’re working with AMD on a framework: consumers own their own data — must start with that (if they do, people will cooperate); not all data equally sensitive — need chain of custody to keep data anomyzed; security must be right at the edge; simplify terms and conditions.
    Sometimes thinks that, in talking about IoT, it’s like talking about cars in 1900, but we managed to create a set of standards that allowed it to grow: “rules of the road,” etc.
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Internet of Things critical to attack global warming

I haven’t understood for a long time why there isn’t universal support for serious — and creative — measures to reduce global warming.

I first did a speech on the subject in 1996, and suspect it’s because — wrongly — people confuse energy efficiency with sacrifice, when in fact it’s just using creativity and technology to reduce waste and inefficiency. Who, especially those who style themselves as “conservatives,” could be opposed to that (although recent polls show those Tea Party types just won’t look at the facts..)?

At any rate, as far as I’m concerned, debate on this issue and toleration of “deniers” is no longer an option — we must act, and act NOW — because of the reports by two esteemed scientific panels this week that even if we DO act, catastrophic melting of part of the Antarctic may already be irreversible, ultimately raising ocean levels by 10′ — or more:

“A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.”

(Aside to Senator Rubio: perhaps scuba expeditions around the former Miami may be a big tourist draw after the apocalypse …).

The Internet of Things can and must play a critical role in such a strategy.

The Environmental Defense Fund’s smart grid initiative, especially its demonstration program in Austin, TX, shows the promise for integrated, large scale programs to turn the electricity system into a truly integrated one where customers will be full partners in demand-side management AND in generation, through small-scale, distributed production from sources such as solar and wind.

Smart AC modlet

But each of us can and must act individually to reduce our carbon footprints, which brings me to a neat device from Thinkeco, the SmartA/C “modlet.” It plugs into the wall socket where you plug in your window-mounted A/C unit, then the A/C plugs into the modelet.

You create a schedule to automatically turn your A/C on and off to save energy. The thermostat also senses the room temp and turns your A/C on and off to maintain a temperature around your set point.  And, rather than keep the A/C on all day when you’re at work just so the apartment will be cool when you get home, you can regulate the temperature from the smartphone app, turning it down before you leave the office.

Several utilities, including Con Ed in NYC, now provide the units to their customers, and they can really make a difference: in New York City alone, there are 6.5 million room air conditioners, which account for up to 2,500 megawatts of demand, or 20 percent of peak demand in the city.  What could be better: an apartment that’s cool when you need it, lower utility bills, and a reduction in greenhouse gases?

Or, there’s Automatic, which plugs into your car’s diagnostic port, and, through Bluetooth, sends you “subtle audio clues” (evidently “SLOW DOWN, IDIOT” doesn’t modify behavior) when it senses you’re accelerating or braking too rapidly or speeding. It also compiles a weekly overall score for your driving — the higher the score, the more economically you’re driving. Hopefully, you’ll modify your driving behavior, save gas money, and reduce emissions (Automatic also has some nice additional features, such as automatically notifying emergency officials if you crash).

I’m a grandfather, and I’m sick about the world that we’re leaving our grandchildren. Let’s all resolve, whether through IoT technology or personal habit change, to tread lightly on the earth and reduce our carbon footprint. It’s no longer a choice.

Two good sites if you’re introducing the IoT

Categorize this under “posts I’ve been meaning to write for a long time!”

For the current writing assignment I’m working on, I’m looking for as many good examples of practical Internet of Things applications that are available right now.

There are two sites that I repeatedly go to for those examples that deserve some praise.

postscapesOne is Postscapes, which I find to be an important all-around IoT news source. It features products (and links to their sites) in the “Body,” “Home,” “City” and “Industry” categories, as well as a DIY/Open Source grouping. The descriptions are well written and it’s attractive.

The other site is a corporate one, from Libelium, the Spanish open source sensor platform. A portion of its site is devoted to “50 Sensor Applications for a Smarter World,” grouped under “Smart Cities,” “Smart Environment,” “Smart Water,” “Smart Metering,” “Retail,” “Logistics,” “Industrial Control,” “Smart Agriculture,” “Smart Animal Farming,” “Security and Emergencies,” “Domotic and Home Automation,” and “eHealth.” There’s a wealth of accompanying information about — surprise! — the Libelium sensors that are matched to each of these applications. Of course it’s marketing for Libelium, but the range of applications does illustrate the wide range of ways that the IoT is already affecting industry, cities, and personal lives.

Check both sites out — and point your skeptical contacts who wonder if the IoT is just a laboratory curiosity to them!

 

Nice long NPR piece on Stantander

Posted on 4th June 2013 in cities, government, Internet of Things, transportation

One of my sons turned me on to this long NPR piece this morning about Santander. Thought it did a good job of covering the mix of top-down (the city’s installations of sensors) and bottoms-up (the active involvement of citizens through apps to report potholes, etc.) that a make up a robust IoT program.

Want to help plan how Internet of Things will transform government? Join my new GovLoop group!

Have no doubt about it: the Internet of Things will transform government, affecting public security, defense, environmental protection, transport, and health.  If you’d like to be part of the community planning how to help government capitalize on the IoT, please join my new GovLoop community on the topic!

London will have first Internet of Things airport!

Posted on 6th May 2013 in cities, Internet of Things, transportation

I’ve been arguing for airports as ideal laboratories for advanced, free wireless communications ever since a 2002 op-ed in the Boston Business Journal in which I chided Logan Airport for charging for wi-fi. It seems to me that airports, with such a high percentage of sophisticated users with advanced mobile devices combined with complex logistics, are perfect places to apply the latest innovations.

That’s why I was delighted to see that London City Airport, the city’s downtown, business-oriented one, will offer the first Internet of Things enabled services.

The services will be developed by Living PlanIt (“technology for sustainable cities”) and retail developer Milligan  (“..creates places where people like to shop”) in cooperation with the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.

According to Robin Daniels, Living PlanIt’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, the project’s goal is all-encompassing:

“Everything that’s uncomfortable, inconvenient or just a pain in the neck about traveling, we’re trying to turn into a more pleasurable experience,”

Among other services, the “The Living PlanIT Urban Operating System™” will:

  • track passengers through facial recognition and crowd-sourcing software plus GPS
  • automatically deliver food to people who pre-order food online or through their smartphone
  • let someone who pre-booked a taxi step right into it
  • track luggage in real-time (if someone misses their flight, their bag won’t be loaded).
  • retailers in the terminal  “will use a combination of cameras and sensors to monitor buyer behavior and to get a better sense of what types of displays work. They will also be able to offer shoppers customized offers based on previous purchases.”

The system will observe privacy concerns by making the services opt-in.  However, Evangeis Ouzounis, the head of the secure infrastructure and services unit at the European Network and Information Security Agency, worries about possible vulnerability to hackers:

“They might jam a smart device to make systems not available in the airport, or play with the bar code of flight tickets, so that you can have access to a space you shouldn’t have access to.”

I don’t know about you, but I find flying post 9/11 to be the most stressful activity imaginable. If there are adequate security and privacy protections in place, I’d gladly opt-in for IoT services!

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