Welcome on blog YTD2525

5 Jul

The blog YTD2525 contains a collection of clippings news and on telecom network technology.

Building the IoT – Connectivity and Security

25 Jul

Short-range wireless networking, for instance, is another major IoT building block that needs work. It is used in local networks, such as:

and more.With the latest versions of Bluetooth and Zigbee, both protocols can now transport an IP packet, allowing, as IDC represents it, a uniquely identifiable endpoint. A gateway/hub/concentrator is still required to move from the short-range wireless domain to the internet domain. For example, with Bluetooth, a smartphone or tablet can be this gateway.

The main R&D efforts for local area networking are focused on radio hardware and power consumption so that we can avoid needing a power cable or batteries for wireless devices, network topologies and software stacks. 6LoWPAN and its latest evolution under Google’s direction, Thread, are pushing the limits in this area. Because consumers have become accustomed to regularly changing their technology, such as updating their computers and smartphones every few years, the consumer market is a good laboratory for this development.

There is also a need for long-range wireless networking in the IoT to mature. Connectivity for things relies on existing IP networks. For mobile IoT devices and difficult-to-reach areas, IP networking is mainly achieved via cellular systems. However, there are multiple locations where there is no cellular coverage. Further, although cellular is effective, it becomes too expensive as the number of end-devices starts reaching a large number. A user can pay for a single data plan (the use of cellular modems in cars to provide Wi-Fi, for example), but that cost rapidly becomes prohibitive when operating a large fleet.

For end-devices without a stable power supply—such as in farming applications or pipeline monitoring and control—the use of cellular is also not a good option. A cellular modem is fairly power-hungry.

Accordingly, we are beginning to see new contenders for IoT device traffic in long-range wireless connections. A new class of wireless, called low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN), has begun to emerge. Whereas previously you could choose low power with limited distance (802.15.4), or greater distance with high power, LPWAN provide a good compromise: battery-powered operation with distances up to 30KM.

There are a number of competing technologies for LPWAN, but two approaches are of particular significance are LoRa and SIGFOX.

LoRa provides an open specification for the protocol, and most importantly, an open business model. The latter means that anyone can build a LoRa network—from an individual or a private company to a network operator.

SIGFOX is an ultra-narrowband technology. It requires an inexpensive endpoint radio and a more sophisticated base station to manage the network. Telecommunication operators usually carry the largest amount of data; usually high frequencies (such as 5G), whereas SIGFOX intends to do the opposite by using the lower frequencies. SIGFOX advertises that its messages can travel up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), and each base station can handle up to 1 million objects, consuming 1/1000th the energy of a standard cellular system. SIGFOX communication tends to be better if it’s headed up from the endpoint to the base station, because the receive sensitivity on the endpoint is not as good as the expensive base station. It has bidirectional functionality, but its capacity going from the base station back to the endpoint is constrained, and you’ll have less link budget going down than going up.

SIGFOX and LoRa have been competitors in the LPWAN space for several years. Yet even with different business models and technologies, SIGFOX and LoRa have the same end-goal: to be adopted for IoT deployments over both city and nationwide LPWAN. For the IoT, LPWAN solves the connectivity problem for simple coverage of complete buildings, campuses or cities without the need for complex mesh or densely populated star networks.

The advantage of LPWAN is well-understood by the cellular operators; so well, in fact, that Nokia, Ericsson and Intel are collaborating on narrowband-LTE (NB-LTE). They argue it is the best path forward for using LTE to power IoT devices. NB-LTE represents an optimized variant of LTE. According to them, it is well-suited for the IoT market segment because it is cheap to deploy, easy to use and delivers strong power efficiency. The three partners face an array of competing interests supporting alternative technologies. Those include Huawei and other companies supporting the existing narrowband cellular IoT proposal.

These technologies are part of the solution to solve some of the cloud-centric network challenges. It is happening, but we can’t say this is mainstream technology today.

Internet concerns

Beyond the issue of wireless connectivity to the internet lie questions about the internet itself. There is no doubt that IoT devices use the Internet Protocol (IP). The IPSO Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote IP adoption. Last year, the Alliance publicly declared that the use of IP in IoT devices was now well understood by all industries. The question now is, “How to best use IP?”

For example, is the current IP networking topology and hierarchy the right one to meet IoT requirements? When we start thinking of using gateways/hubs/concentrators in a network, it also raises the question of network equipment usage and data processing locations. Does it make sense to take the data from the end-points and send it all the way to a back-end system (cloud), or would some local processing offer a better system design?

Global-industry thinking right now is that distributed processing is a better solution, but the internet was not built that way. The predicted sheer breadth and scale of IoT systems requires collaboration at a number of levels, including hardware, software across edge and cloud, plus the protocols and data model standards that enable all of the “things” to communicate and interoperate. The world networking experts know that the current infrastructure made up of constrained devices and networks simply can’t keep up with the volume of data traffic created by IoT devices, nor can it meet the low-latency response times demanded by some systems. Given the predicted IoT growth, this problem will only get worse.

In his article, The IoT Needs Fog Computing, Angelo Corsaro, chief technology officer ofPrismtech, makes many good points about why the internet as we know it today is not adequate. He states that it must change from cloud to fog to support the new IoT networking, data storage and data processing requirements.

The main challenges of the existing cloud-centric network for broad IoT application are:

  • Connectivity (one connection for each device)
  • Bandwidth (high number of devices will exceed number of humans communicating)
  • Latency (the reaction time must be compatible with the dynamics of the physical entity or process with which the application interacts)
  • Cost (for an system owner, the cost of each connection multiplied by the number of devices can sour the ROI on a system)

These issues led to the creation of the OpenFog Consortium (OFC). OFC was created to define a composability architecture and approach to fog/edge/distributed computing, including creating a reference design that delivers interoperability close to the end-devices. OFC’s efforts will define an architecture of distributed computing, network, storage, control, and resources that will support intelligence at the edge of IoT, including autonomous and self-aware machines, things, devices, and smart objects. OFC is one more example that an important building block to achieve a scalable IoT is under development. This supports Gartner’s belief that the IoT will take five to 10 years to achieve mainstream adoption.

Yet the majority of media coverage about the IoT is still very cloud-centric, sharing the IT viewpoint. In my opinion, IT-driven cloud initiatives make one significant mistake. For many of the IoT building blocks, IT is trying to push its technologies to the other end of the spectrum—the devices. Applying IT know-how to embedded devices requires more hardware and software, which currently inflates the cost of IoT devices. For the IoT to become a reality, the edge device unit cost needs to be a lot lower than what we can achieve today. If we try to apply IT technologies and processes to OT devices, we are missing the point.

IT assumes large processors with lots of storage and memory. The programming languages and other software technologies of IT rely on the availability of these resources. Applying the IT cost infrastructure to OT devices is not the right approach. More development is required not only in hardware, but in system management. Managing a network of thousands or millions of computing devices is a significant challenge.

Securing the IoT

The existing internet architecture compounds another impediment to IoT growth: security. Not a single day goes by that I don’t read an article about IoT security requirements. The industry is still analyzing what it means. We understand IT security, but IT is just a part of the IoT. The IoT brings new challenges, especially in terms of networking architecture and device variety.

For example, recent studies are demonstrating that device-to-device interaction complexity doesn’t scale when we include security. With a highly diverse vendor community, it is clear the IoT requires interoperability. We also understand that device trust, which includes device authentication and attestation, is essential to securing the IoT. But device manufacturer-issued attestation keys compromise user privacy. Proprietary solutions may exist for third-party attestation, but again, they do not scale. Security in an IoT system must start with the end-device. The device must have an immutable identity.

Unfortunately, today this situation does not have an answer. Some chip vendors do have solutions for it. However, they are proprietary solutions, which means the software running on the device must be customized for each silicon vendor.

Security in a closed proprietary system is achievable, especially as the attack surface is smaller. As soon as we open the systems to public networking technologies, however, and are looking at the exponential gain of data correlation from multiple sources, security becomes a combinatory problem that will not soon be solved. With semantic interoperability and application layer protocol interoperability required to exchange data between systems, translation gateways introduce trusted third parties and new/different data model/serialization formats that further complicate the combined systems’ complexity.

The IT realm has had the benefit of running on Intel or similar architectures, and having Windows or Linux as the main operating system. In the embedded realm there is no such thing as a common architecture (other than the core—which, most of the time, is ARM—but the peripherals are all different, even within the same silicon vendor product portfolio). There are also a number of real-time operating systems (RTOS) for the microcontrollers and microprocessors used in embedded systems, from open-source ones to commercial RTOS. To lower embedded systems cost and achieve economies of scale, the industry will need to standardize the hardware and software used. Otherwise, development and production costs of the “things” will remain high, and jeopardize reaching the predicted billions of devices.

Fortunately, the technology community has identified several IoT design patterns. A design pattern is a general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem. While not a finished design that can be transformed directly into hardware or code, a design pattern is a description or template for how to solve a problem that can be used in many different situations.

These IoT design patterns are described in IETF RFC 7452 and in a recent Internet Society IoT white paper. In general, we recognize five classes of patterns:

  • Device-to-Device
  • Device-to-Cloud
  • Gateway
  • Back-end Data Portability
  • IP-based Device-to-Device

Security solutions for each of these design patterns are under development. But considerable work remains.

Finally, all of this work leads to data privacy, which, unfortunately, is not only a technical question, but also a legal one. Who owns the data, and what can the owner do with it? Can it be sold? Can it be made public?

As you can see, there are years of work ahead of us before we can provide solutions to these security questions. But the questions are being asked and, according to the saying, asking the question is already 50% of the answer!

Conclusion

My goal here is not to discourage anyone from developing and deploying an IoT system—quite the contrary, in fact. The building blocks to develop IoT systems exist. These blocks may be too expensive, too bulky, may not achieve an acceptable performance level, and may not be secured, but they exist.

Our position today is similar to that at the beginning of the automobile era. The first cars did not move that fast, and had myriad security issues! A century later, we are contemplating the advent of the self-driving car. For IoT, it will not take a century. As noted before, Gartner believes IoT will take five to ten years to reach mainstream adoption. I agree, and I am personally contributing and putting in the effort to develop some of the parts required to achieve this goal.

Many questions remain. About 10 years ago, the industry was asking if the IP was the right networking technology to use. Today it is clear. IP is a must. The question now is, “How do we use it”? Another question we begin to hear frequently is, “What is the RoI (return on investment) of the IoT”? What are the costs and revenue (or cost savings) that such technology can bring? Such questions will need solid answers before the IoT can really take off.

Challenges also abound. When designing your system, you may find limitations in the sensors/actuators, processors, networking technologies, storage, data processing, and analytics that your design needs. The IoT is not possible without software, and where there is software, there are bug fixes and feature enhancements. To achieve software upgradability, the systems need to be designed to allow for this functionality. The system hardware and operation costs may be higher to attain planned system life.

All that said, it is possible to develop and deploy an IoT system today. And as new technologies are introduced, more and more system concepts can have a positive RoI. Good examples of such systems include fleet management and many consumer initiatives. The IoT is composed of many moving parts, many of which have current major R&D programs. In the coming years, we will see great improvements in many sectors.

The real challenge for the IoT to materialize, then, is not technologies. They exist. The challenge is for their combined costs and performance to reach the level needed to enable the deployment of the forecasted billions of IoT devices.

Source: http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/eye-on-iot-/4442411/Building-the-IoT—Connectivity-and-Security

Chaos Theory of Standardization in IOT

9 May

Transforming the Internet of Things market by reducing inefficiency

As Chaos theory focuses on the initial condition of every event meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, I feel that the IOT scenario is also currently at an initial juncture where we have an opportunity to control the situation before it goes out of hand. There are numerous standards being followed currently in the IOT space to connect various devices but no single global framework is followed. Like the TCP for internet or the IPV4/6 for connectivity which has become the global standard. We have seen the telecommunication and internet revolution simultaneously happening which has fueled various innovations and has made life much more convenient. Even though 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G technologies along with Internet have been globally standardized, the IOT which uses internet as a platform has not yet been standardized. The objective of IOT standardization is to create one language for IOT communication. Even though historically many technological standards have been standardized to a global standard, the IOT world is in a state of chaos and is actually diverging into many individual standard formats than converging into one. Think of the data that were recorded in the cassette tapes and VCR system. Their formats are not compatible in today’s data format and hence obsolete. This will “distinguish past from the future, by marching away from the chaos, the randomness, and moving towards stability. This is why standards are necessary”. (Campbell, J., 1983. Grammatical Man, A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, Inc., page 265.)

The way hierarchy structure in an organization reduces the data analytics time as only the managers data have to be analyzed as each manager manages few associates. Therefore less data analysis saves time and hence cost. Most economics theory is based on saving time. Most of the ecommerce startup like online grocery (Food tech startup) or cab aggregators like Uber focus on saving time using mobile apps hence save effort and cost.As Chaos theory focuses on the initial condition of every event meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, I feel that the IOT scenario is also currently at an initial juncture where we have an opportunity to control the situation before it goes out of hand. There are numerous standards being followed currently in the IOT space to connect various devices but no single global framework is followed. Like the TCP for internet or the IPV4/6 for connectivity which has become the global standard. We have seen the telecommunication and internet revolution simultaneously happening which has fueled various innovations and has made life much more convenient. Even though 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G technologies along with Internet have been globally standardized, the IOT which uses internet as a platform has not yet been standardized. The objective of IOT standardization is to create one language for IOT communication.

Even though historically many technological standards have been standardized to a global standard, the IOT world is in a state of chaos and is actually diverging into many individual standard formats than converging into one. Think of the data that were recorded in the cassette tapes and VCR system. Their formats are not compatible in today’s data format and hence obsolete. This will “distinguish past from the future, by marching away from the chaos, the randomness, and moving towards stability. This is why standards are necessary”. (Campbell, J., 1983. Grammatical Man, A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, Inc., page 265.)

Standardization will in turn save enormous amount of time and cost. One of the major changes in this space has been triggered due to the declining cost of sensors and cloud storage.

Hence the cost effectiveness has triggered traction in the adoption of this technology.

In the world of standardization in IOT, there are many wicked problems. To make people accountable and fix the issues, one standard is imperative. The major challenge is changing requirements as innovation are taking place every day and devices being connected are increasing every day in the IOT space hence difficult to track. One way of reducing cost is by reducing initial research of creating protocols and development cost, maintenance cost by reducing duplication and hence training cost. The benefits of well-planned IOT standardization should overpower the initial investment by a huge margin. Just by having one global standard can solve all these problems.Getting frustrated because of non-availability of right charger for your mobile phone will be a story of the past!

There has been very significant shift in new technology adoption. From innovation to adoption of a technology there are series of events that unfold. Before I explain this shift, let me start with a ‘why’ by asking why IOT standardization now? There are 3 reasons why there is a need for standardization of IOT now.

  1.      99% devices in the world are not connected. This means that the timing is perfect. Timing was the key for Uber and Airbnb launch and hence the success factor.
  2.      50 billion connected devices by 2020 and 2 trillion in revenue means that demand will only rise and hence streamlining is the key.
  3. In 2013-14, approximately 2 billion USD invested in IOT startups in Silicon Valley alone. This only shows that the IOT industry is going to be in the early adopter stage. Hence early adopters of common universal standard is crucial right now as the timing is perfect as 1% of devices in the world is currently connected.

 

https://setandbma.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/technology-adoption-shift/

This is the Gartner Hype cycle which conveys that not all technology made it to the mainstream. All these are from the perspective of an enterprise where consumers have very little role to play in this lifecycle. This underlying theme comes out in both the “Hype Cycle” model used by Gartner since 1995 and the “Technology Adoption Lifecycle” model popularized by Everett Rogers and Geoffrey Moore. Overlaying the hype cycle on the actual consumer adoption is a better way for organizations to make decisions.

To summarize this figure, the peak of adoption cycle talks about the early majority users and that is the phase when the technology is moving up the slope and is being accepted slowly. In 2015, IOT is in the Peak of Hype cycle and its rapidly being adopted by various industry standards but with chaos and zero strategy for the future compatibility. In the technology adoption space, most of the IOT companies are in the initial start of the curve and hence right time for everyone to follow one platform which can define the end goal. This refusal to adopt a global standard will land all of us in the same problem we have about non-compatibility of various audio and video formats like VHS v/s Betamax issue. The need of the hour is to think long term.

Protocols for interoperability have to be standardized for ease of communication. Each sensor generates data which has to communicate with every other device. Different naming and addressing standards will lead to device searching issues. Hence talking to each other in the same language is of prime importance. The narrative of the English language gaining dominance as the global language supports my argument of having a universal IOT language for communication.

In the vision of IoT, things have a digital identity (described by unique identifiers), identified with a digital name and the relationships among things can be specified in a digital domain. Some more practical reasons of why IOT standardization would be the most effective way going forward. Is there a real incentive to drive IOT standardization?

1. Interoperability: Breaking IOT products and services into non-interoperable units will hurt the growth of an emerging industry. Unified data exchange format based on context between different industry domains. A unique identifier for an object can translate to a single permanent assigned name named as IOTid for the life of an object. However, there may be need to accommodate multiple identifiers per object, as well as changes to those identifiers. For example, many objects will have a unique identifier assigned by their manufactures. Some may have network addresses (IPv6), as well as temporary local identifiers. We can have an IOTid based on a combination of its IP address as well. It is important that identifiers are not constrained by current choices of technology for storing and communicating unique identifiers or their current limitations, since data carrier technology will evolve. Sensors attached to objects will be individually addressable; their identifiers will be associated with the object via a lookup in a registry. Combinations of things will create “family of tree” identification schemes.

2. Control and Accountability:Chains of responsibility should be clearly established and remedies must be available. Having a hierarchy will exercise centralized control (for example blogs can write whatever about Facebook, twitter but FB is in control of its quality and content).

3. Economical: The economic benefit of standardization can vary significantly between different countries. For example studies show that the impact of standards on annual GDP growth could range from 0.3 to 1 percentage point in different EU member states. Standards are good for international trade because they help lower cost between the seller and the buyer by providing an independent objective set of criteria. With economies of scale in the manufacturing industry, prices do stabilize and similarly with standardization the IOT products over a period of time will be real cheap. Both the industry as well as consumers will reap the benefit of this.

4. Faster Response: Any issues or complaints can be resolved faster as there will be a clear authority to resolve the conflicts. Hence the users know where to get the work done. When there is a defined set of process and procedures, problems can be solved much faster. Imagine if a crime is committed in an IOT ecosystem, who will be responsible and hence who will respond to it? Technology is mindless; it depends on who uses it!

5. Neutral: Standardization is the voluntary process of developing rules based on consensus among all stakeholders (industry, consumers, public authorities, trade unions etc). Standards also enhance the competitiveness of industry by framing the common requirements upon which a particular IOT product can be built and a hence a level playing field can be ensured by equal representation for all groups.

6. Transparency: Open Governance protects privacy and fundamental rights of users and hence when data moves from one device to other, lots of data analysis happens which can compromise the identity of the people involved. Having one standard and hence an authority can help ensure openness and hence more security.

Now talking about the power game of who can influence the standardization process. How standardization will work? Or probably should we be asking will it ever work? To kick start this complex initiative I strongly propose a global campaign for ‘IOTism’. Currently we are witnessing an IOT ecosystem which lacks strong global IPR rules, neutral governance and a balanced participation or representation. The solution to this problem would come from game theory. Without an unbiased authority or a policy maker, it will be impossible to have a truly global IoT ecosystem.

Michel Foucault the philosopher said that power comes from multiple sources hence there must be multiple sources of resistance. If we fail to tackle the multiple sources of power, then we risk allowing them to continue to exist and hence multiple source of resistance exists which will create hindrances and hence difficult to control. The tough question we need to ask is why to create an Insecure Internet of Things (IoT)? With this analogy I feel the IOT standardization chaos needs to be tackled with minimum resistance which means making sure there is a common body of influence which can lay the code of conduct of the IOT game. The prison, and its panoptic architecture, was for Foucault a perfect example of these new technologies of power. In the Panopticon, the prisoner can be observed at any time. However, because the observation tower in the middle of the prison is also a source of light, he doesn’t know when he is actually being watched, therefore acts with the assumption of an omnipresent observer.

How and what would the governance of the IoT be like? Will it be a state-led agency, or a group under the supervision of the UN, or an industrial consortium? Currently the various power players in the standards world like ITU, ICANN, IEEE, OIC, W3C, ISO, ITEF and industry verticals standard are present who wants to influence a larger pie. Applying Game theory to IOTism for adoption of ONE universal theory – If everyone adopts the standard at the same time, it will be successful. Need of the hour is to bring all institutions together and frame an IOT standard together.

IOTism or IOT standard Share = 1 / number of IOT standard organization
Note: Number of IOT standard organization ideally =1

 

IOT standardization Value = (IOT Standard Share) X IOT Industry market share

Note: IOT Standard Share ideally =1

Currently by the end of 2015, IOT Industry market is around 0.8 Trillion USD. The true market value of the IOT industry would be created only if there is integration of all IOT standards into just one. If I assume approx. 400 current standards, then IOT standardization value = 0.8/400= 2 Billion. This per capita or per standard value bring down the efficiency of the IOT industry as a whole. Therefore if and only if the IOT standard share is 1, then the IOT market value can be maximized.

Let us consider two groups who have their own IOT standard and are trying to lobby or push their standard as global standard. Applying Game theory to this strategic decision, we can find the Nash equilibrium. In this game, both Group A and Group B have a dominant strategy to lobby for pushing their own IOT standard in the industry. It makes sense that if Group A chooses to lobby, and Group B does not, new regulations sought by Group A could put Group B at a competitive disadvantage leading to lower payoffs for Group B. Perhaps if both companies lobby for a common IOT standard, both can carve out some sort of competitive advantage while also protecting themselves to some extent from the lobbying efforts of others. However, there are opportunity costs to lobbying. Expending resources to gain advantages through government intervention is what economists refer to as rent seeking. It may be the case that if both would abstain from lobbying their own standard, those resources could be devoted to R&D efforts that would actually yield greater returns, improved marketing to consumers, or other benefits leading to higher payoffs for both players.

Hence having a common framework will reduce the effort of lobbying and hence concentrate more on the product to market for consumers.

Group A
No Lobby Lobby
Group B No Lobby  200,200   0,300
Lobby   300,0 100,100

The solution to this is really thinking out of this box and bring another angle of both the Groups A & B pushing a universal common IOT framework simultaneously. This would be beneficial to everyone when multiple stakeholders are involved. Hence lobbying one common universally accepted IOT standard is the only solution which should be accepted simultaneously by all the major power groups. This group should be represented by the corporates, establishments and standard organizations altogether working in unison to push a common standard for IOT.

For the sake of argument let us compare the Information age versus banking system. Banking is regulated today. Hence banking system is trusted. Whereas information and internet is not trusted today and hence IOT will not be trusted if there is no regulation control and monitoring. If an ecosystem of support along with regulation is provided then the whole IOT system will be successful. Currently various standard exists and hence there is no monitoring done. Standardization will bring in monitoring. Therefore, all country, agencies collectively would apply game theory of one standard at the same time. Hence IEEE, ISO, ITU, ICANN, W3C power war, various industry vertical standards like healthcare, financial sector, manufacturing etc all should adopt a common standard framework.

One of the ways of approaching this is accepting the commonalities of the already existing silo standards and framing the base foundation of the framework through global alliance of standards. To make sure any revisions of the frameworks can be done, we need to provide a boundary and hence I propose an IOT TRUST framework.

  • T- Traceable
  • R – Responsible
  • U –  Universally accepted standard
  • S – Secure
  • T – Transparent

The way a Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) Automation platform or tool in Cyber security space has a basic foundation which has workflow, dashboard, application linking, access and role management etc and any use case or application module can sit on top of it. Similarly IOT TRUST foundation could be common globally. Any organization/industry is free to map their customized processes on top of the base foundation framework. This will control the input and output of data. Hence achieving a universal standard and a contextual technology layer wrapped on top of it.

Also it is imperative to understand that once the IOT standardization is achieved, there should be a smooth transition strategy like a migration roadmap plan for the previous standards (currently approximately 450 IOT standards exists) and not just leave on the market to decide the adoption. The responsibility of this group would be to think ahead of the curve and make the necessary changes to the framework to be compatible and accommodative for future innovations. IOT is an extension to human organs and hence the game of IOTism to ORGANism should be played very responsibly. We should keep in mind what happens to humanity when there is technological singularity! Else the next world war could be fought over standard Information of Things!

References:

– An Introduction to Game Theory: Applications in Environmental Economics and Public Choice with Mathematical Appendix – Western Kentucky University
https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/philosophy/research/research-areas/science-methodology/rational-choice.html
– Foucault Power/Knowledge, Brighton 1980
– http://www.iso.org/iso/internet_of_things_report-jtc1.pdf
– https://setandbma.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/technology-adoption-shift/

Source: http://dericinnovate.blogspot.nl/2016_05_01_archive.html

Fast FOTA update tutorial for the Internet of Things

2 May

Goal: The following describes how to use SSH and the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox to deploy firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates to a MediaTek LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo intelligent gateway development platform in a matter of minutes. The demo begins by testing the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo hardware by programming a ‘Blink’ application in Python and delivering it through the OS X Terminal application, and verifying the board’s connectivity by pinging a server there as well. Afterward, a prototype and test device are created in the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox, and a Node.js program is installed on the LinkIt platform enabling it to communicate with the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox API. Finally, a separate Python ‘Blink’ program with a different time delay is developed in the Arduino Software IDE and uploaded to the cloud platform before being pushed over the air to the Atmel ATmega32U4 MCU that drives LED D13 on the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo.

(Note: The following uses a Mac implementation using Terminal for SSH, though instructions for Windows (PuTTY) and can be found in the Developer’s Guide)

What you’ll need:

Cost:

  • LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo – $15.90 plus shipping and handling from Seeed Studio

Checking the hardware and cutting to the chase

Connectivity check

Step-by-step instructions for configuring the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo development board and connecting it to the Internet via a local network are available online, so let’s skip ahead to testing the device’s Internet connection and hardware, namely the onboardAtmel ATmega32U4 MCU that we’ll be programming to drive LED D13.

Figure 1

Once the board is plugged in, configured, and connected, you’ll need to access a command line interface (CLI) of your PC, which on OS X can be done using the Terminal application. Now that you’ve got access to the CLI, access the board’s operating system by typing ssh root@mylinkit.local and entering the password you previously created for the web-based mylinkit.local dashboard (this one). After successfully SSHing into the board, you will see the OpenWrt welcome message, which incidentally also provides a Chaos Calmer drink recipe, as below.

(Note: If you receive an error message indicating that the host ID has changed, reference the troubleshooting section of the LinkIt Smart 7688 Developer’s Guide on page 95).

Now you’ll be able to issue commands to the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo through the system console, so let’s first check that the board is connected to the Internet. After root@mylinkit.local:~# in the command line, enter ping –c 5 http://www.mediatek.com. This tells the board to ping a MediaTek server five times and report back information on the roundtrip travel time, packet loss, etc. If done correctly, you should receive a report similar to the one below.

MCU programming

You know that your board is connected, so it’s time to test the hardware. Download the Arduino IDE if you don’t have it already, and follow the steps in the Developer’s Guide to make sure the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo board support package is installed correctly and, for Windows users, that the appropriate Serial COM port drivers are installed (Note: The LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo supports Arduino IDE versions 1.6.4 or later, but there’s a known bug with serial port communications in version 1.6.8 when using the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo so I recommend using version 1.6.7). Next, create a new sketch, paste the following code into the Arduino editor, and upload it to the Duo board:

void setup() {

  Serial.begin(115200); // open serial connection to USB Serial  //port (connected to your computer)  Serial1.begin(57600); // open internal serial connection to  //MT7688   pinMode(13, OUTPUT); // in MT7688, this maps to device } void loop() {   int c = Serial1.read(); // read from MT7688   if (c != -1) {  switch(c) {     case ‘0’: // turn off D13 when receiving “0”     digitalWrite(13, 0);     break;     case ‘1’: // turn on D13 when receiving “1”     digitalWrite(13, 1);     break;     }   } }

You likely got an error saying that “‘receiving’ was not declared in this scope,” which is fine because we need to create a program that maps the Serial1 commands in the above sketch through the correct port on your PC.

Back in the command line on root@mylinkit:~# type vim blink_on_duo.py to create a Python ‘Blink’ program that you’ll use to test the board’s hardware. After you enter this command, you’ll be taken to a blank text editor that allows you to enter example code, provided by MediaTek. Hit the ‘i’ key to enable insertion, then paste in the following:

import serial import time s = None def setup():   global s   # open serial COM port to /dev/ttyS0, which maps to UART0(D0/D1)   # the baudrate is set to 57600 and should be the same as the one   # specified in the Arduino sketch uploaded to ATMega32U4.   s = serial.Serial(“/dev/ttyS0”, 57600) def loop():  #send “1” to the Arduino sketch on ATMega32U4.   # the sketch will turn on the LED attached to D13 on the board   s.write(“1”)   time.sleep(1)   # send “0” to the sketch to turn off the LED   s.write(“0”)  time.sleep(1) if __name__ == ‘__main__’:   setup()   while True:     loop()

After hitting Escape, typing :wq! and pressing the Return key, you’ll be taken back to the command line for root@mylinkit:~#. Type python ./blink_on_duo.py, wait a couple of seconds, and watch for the LED D13 to blink on and off in one second intervals. If it does, you’re all good, and ready to get to the fun stuff.

Testing is the worst! I want to build connected applications!

I know, but the above tests actually have you well on your way to creating a FOTA prototype.

Accessing the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox and creating an additional firmware file with the Arduino IDE

At this point you need to login or register for the MediaTek Cloud Sandbox (MCS). Once you’ve entered the dashboard, select the“Development” dropdown in the upper left of the navigation menu, and click “Prototype.” You’ll be taken to a screen that prompts you to “Create your prototype now!” so do as you’re told and click the blue “Create” button. Enter whatever information you wish into the fields in the ensuing popup window, but make sure you’ve selected“LinkIt Smart 7688 (MT7688)” as the hardware platform (Note: I named my prototype MT_LS7688Duo_1, as you can see below). Click“Save” at the bottom.

Now you’ll see the prototype you’ve just uploaded in the Prototype list, so click the blue “Detail” button beneath it. You’ll now be taken to a new screen with a tooltip wizard that outlines the capabilities of MCS. This dashboard allows you to add data channels, define triggers and actions, implement user privileges, and manage test devices, but what you’ll be focusing on today is the “Firmware” tab. But before you do that, you’re going to need some firmware to upload.

Back in the Arduino IDE, we can quickly pull some example code by navigating to File -> Examples -> Basics -> Blink. A ‘Blink’ sketch will appear, but instead of leaving the delay in the code at 1000 µs (or one second, which is the same interval already running on the 7688 Duo), change the wait time to 250. Remember to update both the HIGH and LOW write directions, and also observe good coding practices by documenting the change in the notes.

Now, instead of uploading this sketch directly to the board, you want to upload it to MCS. So, in the Arduino navigation bar, select the Sketch dropdown and click “Export compiled Binary” (Note: This is where I encountered problems with version 1.6.8). Save this new program somewhere that’s easily accessible, and, if you wish, you can also make an additional firmware file with different time delays for use with MCS.

Returning to the MCS Prototype dashboard, complete or exit the wizard if you haven’t already and navigate to the firmware tab. Select “+Add firmware” below, and fill out the required fields, including your recently created firmware file.

Hit “Upload” at the bottom of that window, and in Step 2 of the“Add firmware” process, click next after making sure only the “All firmware(default)” box is checked. On Step 3 click “Not Now,” for now.

In the upper right-hand corner of the Prototype dashboard, you will now see that the “Create test device” button is illuminated blue. Select it, and enter a device name (Note: I just used “MT_LS7688Duo_1_Test”). Click “Create,” then in the window that follows, select the “Go to detail” option.

The Test Device detail page looks similar to the prototype page, with one key difference: This is where you’ll find the deviceId anddeviceKey needed to call the MCS RESTful APIs (Note: See those provided for my device below).

Prepping the LinkIt Smart 7688 for FOTA with command line Node.js

Back to the Terminal app for the last time, you’ll need to create a new directory (folder) under root@mylinkit.local by entering mkdir app && cd appinto the command line. Once that directory has been created you have to install a couple of Node.js modules on the 7688 Duo by entering npm install mcsjs and npm install superagent in the command line as well. Do each one of them separately, and be patient as each may take a couple of minutes to install, during which time the CLI will appear to be unresponsive (or display a cart-wheeling slash). The end result should look something like this:

Now that you have all of the appropriate Node.js modules installed, we can write a program that allows the 7688 Duo to communicate with MCS. Enter vim app.js in the command line to create a new application file, then, as before with the Python ‘Blink’ program you entered into terminal, press the ‘i’ key to enable insertion and paste in the following code:

var mcs = require(‘mcsjs’); var spawn = require(‘child_process’).spawn; var fs = require(‘fs’); var request = require(‘superagent’); var fwName = ‘fw.hex’; var myApp = mcs.register({   deviceId: ‘Input your deviceID’,   deviceKey: ‘Input your deviceKey’, }); var download = function(url, dest, cb) {   var file = fs.createWriteStream(dest);   var sendReq = request.get(url);   // verify response code>  sendReq.on(‘response’, function(response) {     if (response.statusCode !== 200) {       return cb(‘Response status was ‘ + response.statusCode);     }   });   // check for request errors  sendReq.on(‘error’, function (err) {     fs.unlink(dest);     if (cb) {       return cb(err.message);     } nbsp; });nbsp; sendReq.pipe(file); nbsp; file.on(‘finish’, function() { nbsp; nbsp; file.close(cb); // close() is async, call cb after close completes. nbsp; }); nbsp; file.on(‘error’, function(err) { // Handle errors    fs.unlink(dest); // Delete the file async. (But we don’t check the result)     if (cb) {       return cb(err.message);     }   }); }; myApp.on(‘FOTA’, function(data, time) {   console.log(data);   var Data = data.split(‘,’);   var firmwareUrl = Data[2];   download(firmwareUrl, fwName, function(){     var update = spawn(‘avrdude’, [‘-p’, ‘m32u4’, ‘-c’, ‘linuxgpio’, ‘-v’, ‘-e’, ‘-U’, ‘flash:w:/root/’+ fwName, ‘-U’, ‘lock:w:0x0f:m’]);     update.stdout.on(‘data’, function(data) { console.log(data) });    update.stderr.on(‘data’, function(data) { console.log(data.toString()) });   ;}); });

But you’re not done yet. This is where the deviceID and deviceKey from the test devices page in MCS come into play, as you need those so the cloud API can identify your LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo platform. Enter these in lines 8 and 9 of the code where it says ‘Input your deviceID’ and ‘Input your deviceKey’ respectively (Note: Leave the quotes on each). When complete, your code should look something like this:

Press Escape on your keyboard and type :wq! to return to the main command line for root@mylinkit.local. To execute the program, enter node app.js there.

Firmware over-the-air for real

Remember the additional firmware file we exported from Arduino and uploaded to MCS? Well, return to the MCS dashboard and navigate to the Test device page if you’re not still there. Notice the green dot next to the name of your test device name in the upper left of the interface indicating that your LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo is connected, then click on the Firmware tab below. The firmware you previously uploaded is still there, only now the “Push” button to the right should be blue. Go ahead and give it a click, wait a couple of seconds, and watch for the change in delay on LED D13 of the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo from one blink every 2 seconds to one blink per second.

Congratulations, you’ve performed a FOTA update and are officially certified!

Comprehensive video tutorial to come, as soon as I get these formats converted!

 Source: http://iotdesign.embedded-computing.com/articles/fast-fota-update-tutorial-for-the-internet-of-things/

5 Disruptive Technology Trends that are All Set to Go Mainstream

2 May

Technology is a way of life. Rapid innovations in this field have not only eased lives, but have also designed solutions for our problems. This ever-growing and evolving field has made way for advancements that have found uses in various industries and have uplifted the economy and lives.

Among the many innovations, certain technologies have come to light that have the potential to shake the very foundation of tradition and create new and improved ways of living. These are also known as disruptive technologies.

Disruptive technologies are usually in the nascent or developing stage and require further improvement to integrate them into the established ones. These technologies are expected to create waves in every sector and set the stage for a better future. These are going to create opportunities for dramatic success. Let’s take a look at some of these in details.

Advanced Robotics

We have already seen applications of robotic theory in a number of industries worldwide. The branch of advanced robotics is expected to surpass that in massive dimensions. Capable robotic tools with increased intelligence and dexterity can not only automate tasks, but also accomplish them significantly faster.

Robotics can make surgeries less invasive and increase the success rate. Robotic substitutes for human body parts that can work just as well are making waves in the medical field. Apart from surgery, robots are being considered as substitutes for labor in the industries of manufacturing, maintenance and so on.

Robots are expected to become more and more commercialized as prices plummet with increased usage. By 2019, the market for consumer and business robots is expected to be worth $1.5 billion.

3D Printing

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing can be utilized to create an entire product by printing layers of a material on top of the other. This method requires a blueprint of the object that can be fed into a software and the printer prints out the object just the way you want it.

So far, we have been familiar with the usage of industrial printers to print prototypes. Owing to its massive advantages, 3D printing is increasingly being deployed in various industries to manufacture products and replacement parts for machines. Additionally, 3D printing provides the advantage of customization of products according to clients’ requirements.

With the overwhelming scope of 3D printing and its usage, its market is expected to grow to a $21 billion worth market revenue by the year 2020.

Advanced Genomics

The field of advanced genomics combines the concept of imaging nucleotide base pairing with analytical and computational abilities. In simpler words, this allows us to gain a deeper and better understanding of the human genes, diagnose diseases effectively and administer improved treatments. This could lead to discoveries and innovations in treating cancer and other deadly diseases.

Apart from the human body, the advancement of genomics can also help us understand plant and animal genetics and come up with ways to improve the performance of agriculture and other related fields.

Internet of Things

Connectivity and mobility are the two of the major aspects that drive progression in today’s world. This has fueled the need to make way for a future where we are always connected to our networks. And the Internet of Things (IoT) makes this possible.

The concept of IoT involves equipping all devices and tools with identifiers that are machine-readable like sensors etc. that will collect data and monitor activities and behavior. This accumulated data can be used to make better decisions and optimize the processes to make them easier. In fact, the number of connected devices is expected to grow to 200 billion by 2020.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are all set to take the transportation industry by storm. These vehicles will be equipped with sensors and machine-to-machine communication technology to detect obstacles and interact with other vehicles on the road. These vehicles are expected to be safer than human-driven ones since these vehicles will use data and calculations to make accurate driving decisions. However, new rules and laws need to be created to accommodate them in our daily lives.

As close to fiction as these may seem, each of these technologies are already being implemented in moderation in many industries. It is only a matter of time till they go mainstream and penetrate our everyday lives.

Source: http://www.techsling.com/2016/05/5-disruptive-technology-trends-set-go-mainstream/

The biggest story to watch in high-tech: Shift to services

2 May

The biggest high-tech story to watch is the shift by traditional hardware, software, and platform companies to deliver their offerings as services to business customers and consumers.

But there are big challenges.

Many high-tech companies have yet to make this change, and doing so will be a huge strategic and financial undertaking. If well executed, however, they will be empowered to provide service offerings faster, deliver continuous and more personalised services, disrupt and enter new markets, and generate a continuous and consistent stream of and higher revenues and profits.

As-a-Service business model

‘As-a-Service’ is the term often used to describe this profound industry transition. It means delivering value through on-demand, highly scalable, plug-and-play services. In the Software As-a-Service business, for example, instead of manufacturing software on disks and shipping them to brick and mortar stores, that same software can be placed in the cloud. Customers can subscribe to the service by paying a subscription fee. By doing so, companies no longer have to maintain costly onsite computer servers or grapple with multiple software versions.

The race towards this new business model is well underway. Software and content industries have already moved in this direction. But many hardware companies, such as manufacturers of smartphones, PCs, servers, networking equipment and any products using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, are just getting started.

This is a problem. It’s also an opportunity.

Most of their product features and functionalities are defined by the software embedded on top of the hardware. Using this new model, companies can roll out new functions after the product has been taken into operations.

As-a-Service will become a required business model for any company selling ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’ products whose value lies in the features and functionalities defined by software.

Shifting to this business model quickly is especially critical for these manufacturers. Facing a sluggish high-tech device market, providing value-added services offers new opportunities and revenue streams critical for their near- and long-term success. Accenture has released a new report about this transition.

Underestimating costs

The path to delivering as a service will be neither easy nor inexpensive. Accenture has learned that many underestimate how much this will cost and how vital it is to make begin this transition now. Embracing the As-a-Service model will impact most corporate functions including sales and marketing, research and development, finance and administration, customer support, and logistics.

Many hardware companies are late to this shift and will be challenged to catch formidable companies already well down entrenched in this business model such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. These trailblazing companies are now scaling their service offerings, entering new markets, and attracting huge large numbers of customers. Many hardware companies have not made this shift quickly enough to offset declines in market growth and compete in this expanding and lucrative market.

Three disruptions driving move to services

The underlying trend making it necessary for these companies to adopt a services model swiftly is widespread and multi-dimensional disruption. Accenture identifies three disruptions of paramount importance:

Disruption #1: Internet and social media

The Internet and social media disruptions have reshaped the electronics and high-tech market. Amazon, Facebook, Google, as well as other high-tech companies that operate on pure digital platforms such as the Internet and mobile, have transformed their markets and are continually entering and disrupting adjacent markets. Providing news-as-a-service, music-as-a-service, and video-as-a-service are prime examples. Operating as all-digital businesses, they gain unlimited scale and versatility to launch new offerings quickly at minimal costs. As such, they thrive in established markets.

Leveraging digital technologies, they are adept at using analytics to gain more valuable customer insights, innovate more, and respond faster and more intelligently to market changes. Their broad influence is changing how consumers and companies buy technology, view content, and communicate socially.

To compete, the only viable option for a traditional high-tech player is to embrace the As-a-Service model.

Shifting to services is a major challenge for many of them. Traditional operating models cannot match the speed and capabilities of their formidable competitors. These hardware companies need to embrace new ways of providing services and make digital the central strategic focus of their companies.

Disruption #2: Consumer technology products become platforms

Stand-alone consumer technology products are becoming obsolete. IoT and the cloud computing are converting every day products into interconnected, multi-faceted platforms. Functioning as multi-purpose, interactive platforms, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and security cameras transcend their original purpose. They provide their suppliers with consistent pipelines for reaching consumers, and generate valuable analytics about how platforms are used.

Disruption #3: New business models for new industry

As promising as this is, serious and systemic challenges associated with security, privacy and logistics of launching a services model need to be overcome. In too many cases traditional high-tech companies have been slow to address these issues. As a result, user confidence and the inherent value of the service has been undermined. For many, the main challenge is figuring out when and where to begin.

So where do they begin?

High-tech hardware manufacturers need a structured approach to the problem that starts with forming a strategy.

As part of this, a key component is recognising that As-a-Service permeates virtually all aspects of a business. As such, every contingency must be planned. Research and development functions need to be equipped to handle swift and continuous product evolution. Real-time insights into customer behaviors and product performance must be gathered to change the way sales and marketing teams operate.

Pricing and billing needs to be more responsive to fluctuating demand. New products and platforms require supply chains in multiple cloud modes with comprehensive connected tools and processes.

For each company, a separate As-a-Service business unit should operate alongside the company’s traditional business. To minimise corporate disruption while the new business grows, the older business can be ramped down over time. This dual and coordinated approach controls disruption and eases the transition.

Final thoughts

This business model change is undeniable. It is a complex and expensive challenge. To succeed, companies must be realistic – and ready to embrace — the scale and investment costs.

On multiple levels transitioning to a service business model is a major strategic undertaking. Yet as daunting as this is, the industry is accelerating full throttle in this direction. In 2016 the As-a-Service transition will accelerate and expand. High-tech companies, particularly traditional hardware manufacturers, must embrace this fundamental change.

Whether they do this, at what speed, and to what level of effectiveness will be the most compelling and important story to track this year.

 

Source: http://www.itproportal.com/2016/05/01/the-biggest-story-to-watch-in-high-tech-shift-to-services/

The Next Battleground – Critical Infrastructure

14 Apr
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Cyber threats have dramatically developed throughout the years. From simple worms to viruses, and finally to advanced Trojan horses and malware. But the forms of these threats are not the only things that have evolved. Attacks are targeting a wider range of platforms. They have moved from the PC to the Mobile world, and are beginning to target IoT connected devices and cars. The news has been filled recently with attacks on critical infrastructure, causing the blackout in Ukraine, and the manipulation of “Kemuri Water treatment Company“ water flow.

This threat can no longer be ignored. Critical infrastructure organizations such as power utility and water are critical, and ought to be protected accordingly. Certain governments are starting to realize that cyberattacks can, in fact, affect critical infrastructure. As a result, they have recently issued regulations to enhance their standard defenses.

The cyber threat world is big and extensive—to fully understand the scope of threats to nationwide critical infrastructures, here are a few insights and perspectives based on our vast and longstanding experience in the cyber world.

Top three critical infrastructure threat vectors

Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are vulnerable in three main areas:

  1. IT network.
  2. Insider threat (intentional or unintentional).
  3. Equipment and software.

 

fig 1

Attacking through the IT network

ICS usually operate on a separate network, called OT (Operational Technology). OT networks normally require a connection to the organization’s corporate network (IT) for operation and management. Attackers gain access to ICS networks by first infiltrating the organization’s IT systems (as seen in the Ukraine case), and use that “foot in the door” as a way into the OT network. The initial infection of the IT system is not different than any other cyberattack we witness on a daily basis. This can be achieved using a wide array of methods, such as spear phishing, malicious URLs, drive-by attacks and many more.

Once an attacker has successfully set foot in the IT network, they will turn their focus on lateral movement. Their main objective is to find a bridge that can provide access to the OT network and “hop” onto it. These bridges may not be properly secured in some networks, which can compromise the critical infrastructures they are connected to.

The threat within

Traditional insider threats exist in IT networks as well as in OT networks. Organizations have begun protecting themselves against such threats, especially after high profile attacks such as the Target hack or Home Depot (and the list is continuously growing). In OT however, the threat is increased. Similar to IT networks, insiders can intentionally breach OT networks with graver consequences. In addition to this “regular” threat, there is the unintentional insider threat. Unlike IT networks, OT networks are usually flat with little or no segmentation, and SCADA systems have outdated software versions that go unpatched regularly.

Unwitting users often inadvertently create security breaches, either to simplify technical procedures or by unknowingly changing crucial settings that disable security. The bottom line remains the same either way: the network that controls the critical infrastructure is left exposed to attacks. This is proven time and again as one can easily encounter networks that were connected to the internet by accident.

Meddling with critical components

The last avenue that endangers ICS is tampering with either the equipment or its software. There are several ways to execute such an operation:

  • Intervening with the equipment’s production. An attacker can insert malicious code into the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) or HMI (Human Machine Interface) which are the last logical links before the machine itself.
  • Intercepting the equipment during its shipment and injecting malicious code into it.
  • Tampering with the software updates of the equipment by initiating a Man in The Middle attack, for example.

So, how can we protect our Critical Infrastructure?

To fully protect any critical infrastructure, whether it is an oil refinery, nuclear reactor or an electric power plant, all three attack vectors must be addressed. It is not enough to secure the organization’s IT to ensure the security of the production floor. A multi-layered security strategy is needed to protect critical infrastructures against evolving threats and advanced attacks. Check Point offers not only a full worldview of the problems critical infrastructures are facing, but also a comprehensive solution to protect them.

 

Critical (Outdoor) IoT Applications Need Robust Connectivity

14 Apr

It’s safe to assume that the majority of all Internet of Things (IoT) devices operate near large populations of people. Of course, right? This is where the action happens – smart devices, smart cars, smart infrastructure, smart cities, etc. Plus, the cost of getting “internet-connected” in these areas is relatively low – public access to Wi-Fi is becoming widely available, cellular coverage is blanketed over cities, etc.

But what about the devices out in the middle of nowhere? The industrial technology that integrates and communicates with heavy machinery that isn’t always “IP connected,” operating in locations not only hard to reach, but often exposed harsh weather. The fact remains, this is where IoT connectivity is potentially most challenging to enable, but also perhaps the most important to have. Why? Because these numerous assets help deliver the lifeblood for our critical infrastructures – electricity, water, energy, etc. Without these legacy and geographically dispersed machines, a smart world may never exist.

But let’s back up for a second and squash any misconceptions about the “industrial” connectivity picture we’re painting above. Take this excerpt from Varun Nagaraj in a past O’Reilly Radar article:

“… unlike most consumer IoT scenarios, which involve digital devices that already have IP support built in or that can be IP enabled easily, typical IIoT scenarios involve pre-IP legacy devices. And unfortunately, IP enablement isn’t free. Industrial device owners need a direct economic benefit to justify IP enabling their non-IP devices. Alternatively, they need a way to gain the benefits of IP without giving up their investments in their existing industrial devices – that is, without stranding these valuable industrial assets.

Rather than seeing industrial device owners as barriers to progress, we should be looking for ways to help industrial devices become as connected as appropriate – for example, for improved peer-to-peer operation and to contribute their important small data to the larger big-data picture of the IoT.”

It sounds like the opportunity ahead for the industrial IoT is to  provide industrial devices and machines with an easy migration path to internet connectivity by creatively addressing its constraints (outdated protocols, legacy equipment, the need for both wired and wireless connections, etc.) and enabling new abilities for the organization.

Let’s look at an example of how this industrial IoT transformation is happening.

Voice, Video, Data & Sensors
Imagine you are a technician from a power plant in an developing part of the world with lots of desert terrain. The company you work for provides power to an entire region of people, which is difficult considering the power plant location is in an extremely remote location facing constant sand blasts and extreme temperatures. The reliance your company places on the industrial devices being used to monitor and control all facets of the power plant itself is paramount. If they fail, the plant fails and your customers are without power. This is where reliable, outdoor IoT connectivity is a must:

  • With a plethora of machinery and personnel onsite, you need a self-healing Wi-Fi mesh network over the entire power plant so that internet connections aren’t lost mid-operation.
  • Because the traditional phone-line system doesn’t extend to the remote location of the power plant, and cell coverage is weak, the company requires Voice over IP (VoIP) communications. Also, because there’s no physical hardware involved, personnel never needs to worry about maintenance, repairs or upgrades.
  • The company wants to ensure no malfeasance takes place onsite, especially due to the mission-critical nature of the power plant. Therefore, security camera control and video transport is required back to a central monitoring center.
  • Power plants require cooling applications to ensure the integrity and safety of the power generation taking place. The company requires Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networking for monitoring the quality of the inbound water being used to cool the equipment.
  • The company wants to provide visibility to its customers in how much energy they are consuming. This requires Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) backhaul networking to help manage the energy consumption taking place within the smart grid.
  • Since the power plant is in a remote location, there is only one tiny village nearby being used by the families and workers at the power plant. The company wants to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot for the residents.

From the outline above, it sounds like a lot of different IoT networking devices will need to be used to address all of these applications at the power plant. If the opportunity ahead for the industrial IoT is to  provide industrial devices and machines with an easy migration path to IP connectivity, what solutions are available to make this a reality for the power plant situation above? Not just that, but a solution with proven reliability in extreme environmental conditions? We might know one

Source: http://bigdata.sys-con.com/node/3766382

Devil is the details: Dirty little secrets of the Internet of Things

11 Apr

Is harvesting your data and turning it into a new revenue stream the only sustainable business model for Internet of Things device makers?

internet of things control touch userCredit: Thinkstock

Where is IoT going in the long run?… To cash in on the treasure trove of “everything it knows about you,” data collected over the long term, at least it is according to a post on Medium about the “dirty little secret” of the Internet of Things.

A company can only sell so many devices, but still needs to make money, so the article suggests the “sinister” reason why companies “want to internet-connect your entire house” is to collect every little bit of data about you and turn it into profit. Although the post was likely inspired in part by the continued fallout of Nest’s decision to brick Revolv hubs, there could a IoT company eventually looking for a way to monetize on “if you listen to music while having sex.”

The post is by the same guy running the “Internet of Sh*t” Twitter account; he works as a developer for a software company in Europe. You’ve surely seen IoT gadgets that seem like a joke, that make you wonder why in the world anyone thought it was a good enough idea to make it. While not every product tweeted by Internet of Sh*t is a real thing, the tweets are funny and have the scary potential to be real. Here are a couple of my favorites:

A smart device which alerts you to water your plants could also be considered to now give your plants an attack vector. Another would be an IoT gadget in your “smart home” that could lead to in-app purchase blackmail such as the tweeted joke about paying to delete footage of something an app “saw.”

In-app purchase blackmail

On Medium, “Internet of Sh*t” explained that there are indeed plenty of IoT devices that you would use over the very long term such as “household appliances you won’t replace for a decade. We’re talking about a thermostat, fridge, washing machine, kettle, TV or light — long term, there’s just no other way to be sustainable for the creators of these devices.” Those devices present “delicious” opportunities “for bloated internet companies.”

“The problem with the Internet of Things is that the hardware is only one aspect,” he pointed out. “The makers need to keep servers running to support them, keep APIs up to date, keep security up to date and, well, pay employees.” Over time, those costs will be more than what you paid for the device so the “sustainable” model is to keep collecting every little piece of data about you and then finding a way to profit from it.

For example, he quoted Nest CEO Tony Fadell who previously said, “We’ll get more and more services revenue because the hardware sits on the wall for a decade.”

If Nest wanted to increase profits it could sell your home’s environment data to advertisers. Too cold? Amazon ads for blankets. Too hot? A banner ad for an air conditioner. Too humid? Dehumidifiers up in your Facebook.

Nest may not be doing that right now, but “the future of your most intimate data being sold to the highest bidder isn’t dystopian. It’s happening now.” One example included Bud Light’s “Bud-E Fridge” as the makers called real-time data about how much beer is stocked “a wealth of knowledge” that will pay off in a couple years even if the fridge doesn’t make a ton of money. Brands are going to look at the data collected by their IoT devices as a new source of revenue stream.

If you think it is unlikely that your IoT devices will start cashing in on data it collects about you, then you might also believe it is a conspiracy theory that apps which request permission to access your microphone are “listening in” to serve up relevant ads. In some cases, it might be a coincidence if you suddenly start seeing ads about a topic that you recently discussed, but not always.

For example, your phone can be “listening” for what you watch on TV. Last month the FTC sent a warning letter (pdf) to unnamed app developers using Silverpush code that “can monitor a device’s microphone to listen for audio signals that are embedded in television advertisements.” Basically the apps can secretly listen to everything that happens in the background; Forbes explained how Silverpush uses a unique inaudible sound in TV commercials that you might not notice, but an app on your phone could. Once it hears that sound, the app knows what you are watching.

It’s important to note that Silverpush claims ads in the USA are currently not using audio beacons, but the FTC still said app developers need to notify users why their apps ask to use a phone’s mic. The FTC’s letter adds that “nowhere do the apps in question provide notice that the app could monitor television-viewing habits, even if the app is not in use.”

For the curious, here’s a list of Android apps which use SilverPush.

While some privacy advocates may care, sadly there are a plethora of people who don’t know or care what their apps or IoT devices are monitoring and collecting. How else do you explain the success of major TV brand makers even after smart TVs were labeled the ‘perfect target’ for spying on you? Since then, smart TVs were caught “eavesdropping,” tracking viewing habits, or snarfing up personal files such as those connected via a USB.

The post on Medium advises you to ponder what data you are giving away, where does it go, and if you even own the IoT device at all before you buy smart devices. A differentpost on Medium by Stephanie Rieger advises you to consider similar topics before you rent a house or apartment that comes equipped with “smart” features.

“Rarely does this process currently involve discussions about hardware versions, operating systems, apps, firmware, connection ports (barring cable/TV/phone) and who has the right or indeed responsibility and sufficient access privileges to install updates, pay monthly or annual subscriptions, or introduce new software into the system,” Rieger wrote. Since some of those smart devices can be collecting your data, be vulnerable to attack, or end up costing you a subscription to a service you don’t even want, then those are important answers you should demand.

We should demand answers about our collected data from the makers of our IoT devices as well, but as Internet of Sh*t pointed out, “Nobody really knows the answer because they don’t want to tell you.” The manufacturers probably believe “it’s better if you don’t know.”

Source: http://www.networkworld.com/article/3054011/security/devil-is-the-details-dirty-little-secrets-of-the-internet-of-things.html

How Blockchain will spur on the IoT revolution

29 Mar

The main advantage of blockchain is to enable people to trust them without the intervention of a “trusted third party”.

Blockchain can be defined as the decentralized and comprehensive history of all transactions since its inception and which are recorded in a large ledger.

Blockchain Use Cases in Internet of Thing : Comprehensive AnalysisplayBlockchain Use Cases in Internet of Thing : Comprehensive Analysis

 

The transaction security is ensured by a network of computers that validate and certify the transaction before entering it permanently in a block. Once registered, it is tamper-proof and easily verifiable. So this is a distributed network in which the transactions are in peer to peer (P2P).

The main advantage of blockchain is that people can trust them without the intervention of a “trusted third party” (lawyers, bank, State, platform types like Uber, AirBnB, etc.). This intermediary function is ensured by a network of computers. In other words, the blockchain is an Internet transaction certification infrastructure.

The technology can be used for transactions that go beyond a mere payment or registration and contain even more complex instructions (conditional and programmed instructions), then we talk about contracts. These contracts are published on a blockchain that they run automatically under certain conditions, which is why we use the term ‘Smart Contracts “.

The stakes are enormous. All players involved in intermediation; banks, insurers, notaries, lawyers, etc. are concerned. It is a market of several trillion dollars that we must re-invent!

The success of the IoT (Internet of Things) goes into effect by the blockchain and its algorithmic trust system with a distributed infrastructure. Remember that with blockchain, the fact that a transaction is accepted or rejected is the result of a distributed consensus and not a centralized institution. In other words, theconsensus-as-a-service (consensus on demand) or TAAS (Trust as a Service) is the heart of the economic model of blockchain.

How Blockchain will spur on the Internet of Things revolutionplayHow Blockchain will spur on the Internet of Things revolution

 

With the Internet of Things, the blockchain protocol will find one of its broader applications, given the huge problems of trust that are sure to arise. Trust, the question of identity, respect for privacy and confidentiality of personal data will be at the heart of market development of the Internet of Things.

In other words, the blockchain technology will become the infrastructure of a globally interconnected digital world and massively including the Wearable Computing, IoT, sensors, smart phones, laptops, and cameras, the Smart Home, the Smart Car and even SmartCity.

Will tomorrow’s world blockchain or not?

Source: http://pulse.com.gh/innovation/how-blockchain-will-spur-on-the-iot-revolution-id4851634.html

Big Data, IoT & Blockchain: Ready to Follow the Yellow Brick Road?

24 Mar

Disruption. You can’t have a discussion today about business or technology without the term entering the conversation. I think it’s become an unwritten rule. It’s almost as if no one will take you seriously unless you’re talking about business disruption. Or how disruptive technologies can be used to advance business and provide a competitive edge.

Take Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both rank highly on the list of disruptive technologies. And as with most technologies, there are areas of great synergy that ultimately provide a yellow brick road to real business value. (See my recent blog Big Data, the Internet of Things, and Russian Nesting Dolls.)

Gold ingod road in grass with sky

Blockchain enters the disruptive dialogue

But recently, a new topic has enlivened the disruption discussions: Blockchain technology. And with it, the requisite stream of questions. What exactly is it? How does it help (or does it help) provide business value? How will it affect my current initiatives? And are there synergies to be had—or do I have to worry about it blowing everything up?

What is blockchain—and how is it associated with Bitcoin?

If you do a Google search on blockchain, you’ll find several results that inevitably pair the terms “blockchain” and “Bitcoin.” That’s because blockchain technology enables digital currencies like Bitcoin to work. As you may be aware, Bitcoin has no physical form, is not controlled by a single entity, nor is it backed by any government or agency.

(I’m not going to attempt to discuss the pros and cons of Bitcoin here. Those conversations can be almost as emotional as political discussions—and voluminous enough to fill books.)

A permanent digital transaction database…

In simple terms, blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that you might think of as a spreadsheet. Yet it comprises a constantly growing list of transactions called “blocks”—all of which are sequentially connected. Each block has a link to the previous one in the list. Once a block is in the chain it can’t be removed, so it becomes part of a permanent database containing all the transactions that have occurred since its inception.

…is also the ultimate distributed database

But perhaps the most interesting thing about blockchain is that there’s no central authority or single source of the database. Which means it exists on every system that’s associated with it. Yes, every system has its own complete copy of the blockchain. As new blocks are added, they’re also received by every system—for the ultimate distributed database. So if you lose your copy, no problem. By rejoining the blockchain network you get a fresh new copy of the entire blockchain.

But how do you ensure transactional security?

By now you’re probably wondering, “How can this possibly result in a secure method for conducting digital transactions?” The short answer is through some very complex cryptography, math puzzles, and crowdsourcing consensus. There’s a great video that explains it in some detail on YouTube. It’s a little over 20 minutes long, but is the best explanation I’ve seen of a very complex solution.

The net result is called a “trustless system.” Which is not to say the system can’t be trusted. It simply means that two parties don’t need a trusted third party (such as a bank or credit card company) to maintain a ledger and valid transactions. Because every transaction can always be verified against the distributed ledger, a copy of which resides with all parties.

Note: One thing that’s important to understand is that while you can’t have Bitcoin without blockchain, you can use blockchain without involving Bitcoin—and that’s when things can become very interesting.

Blockchain and Big Data

When you talk about blockchain in the context of Bitcoin, the connection to Big Data seems a little tenuous. What if, instead of Bitcoin, the blockchain was a ledger for other financial transactions? Or business contracts? Or stock trades?

The financial services industry is starting to take a serious look at block chain technology. Citi, Nasdaq, and Visa recently made significant , a Bitcoin blockchain service provider. And Oliver Bussmann, CIO of UBS says that blockchain technology could “pare transaction processing time from days to minutes.”

The business imperative in financial services for blockchain is powerful. Imagine blockchains of that magnitude. Huge data lakes of blocks that contain the full history of every financial transaction, all available for analysis. Blockchain provides for the integrity of the ledger, but not for the analysis. That’s where Big Data and accompanying analysis tools will come into play.

Blockchain and the Internet of Things

There’s no doubt that IoT is a tremendous growth industry. Gartner predicts that the number of “things” will exceed 25 billion (with a B) devices within the next four years. These things can be anything from a small sensor to a large appliance—and everything in between. Two key challenges are securing those devices, and the privacy of the data they exchange.

Traditional centralized authority and message brokering could help address these issues, but will not scale with the number of devices predicted and the 100’s of billions of transactions the devices will generate.

Several major industry leaders put forth blockchain technology is as a possible solution to these challenges. The vision is a decentralized IoT, where the blockchain can act as the framework for facilitating transaction processing and coordination among interacting devices. Each device would manage its own roles and behavior and rules for interaction.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The blockchain builds itself a block at a time, always growing and moving forward, but also maintaining the trail of where it’s been. While the blockchain’s original purpose was in support of Bitcoin digital currency, like most disruptive technologies its value is growing in unexpected ways and directions.

As a technologist, I find the technology fascinating. That being said, technology is just a tool. It’s our responsibility to ensure the tools can be leveraged to provide true business value. Whethers its reduction of transaction processing time, analysis of transaction trends, or providing a mechanism to securely scale the Internet of Things messaging, the synergies with Big Data and IoT are one way we can follow that yellow block road to true business value.

This post is sponsored by SAS and Big Data Forum.

Source: http://www.collaborative.com/blog/big-data-iot-blockchain/

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