Smart Refrigerators and the Home ERP

Internet connected or “Smart” refrigerators have been the butt of jokes and subject to denigration in recent years.  Yes, I too have maligned these devices as they have come to market, including them in the Internet of S#%t category.  However, in retrospect, these initial offerings were necessary steps in product evolution that will result in the redemption and adoption of smart appliances.

Mind shift

Using a mix of ERP and object oriented paradigms, consider the refrigerator as the core object in managing food production and waste. This object the “Fridge” contains inventory data with the function of controlling waste. This food management object communicates with the meal planning profile (recipes) that provides data creating a bill of material sent to the procurement module which in turn, orders materials (food items) from sources providing best prices within an agreeable timeline.  ERP inventory, materials, and purchasing models for the home. Farfetched?  Perhaps today, but all the components exist, they just haven’t been assembled and marketed with a price point acceptable to the masses, however they will and sooner than later.  Refrigerators with cameras and interfaces to the internet and smart phones are currently marketed as message boards with integrated entertainment centers, nice enough, but hardly utilitarian.  Using a camera within your refrigerator to see what is inside is novel and somewhat useful, but a camera which can recognize objects and build an inventory,  that provides utility.  Through the integration of an intelligent camera, object recognition, barcode reader and inbound receiving functions, (including QA functions and purchasing reconciliation) inventory with expiration dates, planned usage and monitored levels for reorder (restock) can be built and easily within reach.  Extending the functionality and thus the utility, this inventory object can:

  • Remind us of soon to be expiring food
  • Suggest new recipes designed to use items in inventory
  • Control inventory levels based on historical use
  • Create personal eating profiles
  • Monitor per portion calorie, protein, and carbohydrate levels
  • Suggest healthy alternatives
  • Provide budgetary information
  • Provide data to personal health systems
  • Measure waste amounts and costs

What about leftovers and takeout?

Those too can be part of the inventory, as a complete assembly with a near expiration date. Some might be components of another meal, (consider hunters stew) others might be morning reminders to take the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

Other benefits

  • Energy savings through off peak hour defrost cycles
  • Food cost savings though
  • Fuel and time savings from automated food delivery
  • Integration with the home internet assistant of your choice (Google, echo, Siri)
  • And yes the entertainment center, message board, and phone integration

In reading, if you have you envisioned a food based version of the HAL 9000 that has control over substance and says “I’m sorry Dave I’m afraid I can’t do that”  ok fair enough, a common vision in the IoT world.  While we are a bit away from the fully integrated home, with appliances connected for ERP based management, we are much nearer than we are to a box filled with ice.

Keep your bits out of the bucket  -b

How the Internet of Things will Improve Living for the Impaired, Disabled and Elderly

 

 

Industry marketing focus surrounding IoT targets lofty huge projects like Smart Cities or the latest gadget device that all too often seems to be created just because they could.  As part of my daily routine, I read copious numbers of articles on IoT and IIOT, while healthcare related IoT materials are on the increase, a gap exists in the application of connected devices to aide those who have some impairment, are disabled or elderly.  The issue in part is marketing related, the remainder is technological, soon however, with longer life expectancy, improved and improving healthcare, and a growing number of elderly, market demand will garner great attention to this sector.

Applications of current technology

The landscape is not a desert.  Press coverage of healthcare IoT is predominantly hospital focused with discussions of adding data to a patient’s medical record automatically when various machines are utilized for treatment.  In addition, hospital energy savings with industrial lighting and HVAC controls or things like inventory control are all great stuff, and this is just the beginning, but let’s explore how IoT can impact life at home for those who need a little assistance.

Internet of Medical Things, another acronym with popularity growth, contains in part devices like the Fitbit, IIP-enabled blood pressure devices, weight scales and a growing list of active or passive monitoring devices.  These are all wonderful applications of technology, much of it coming from the consumer gadget ranks, spilling over and combining with mainstream healthcare devices. Those devices are now producing huge amounts of data, valuable data that is not being fully utilized.

Bring on the bots!

Yes that Fitbit data is more important that we recognize, but we need to apply data science and AI techniques to condense all this sensory data into concise reports that can be simply and regularly uploaded into a patient’s medical record for the doctor’s use.  Let’s face it, no doctor is going to look at all those points of data collection to find a trend, however if a monthly, bi-annually, or annual report is defined to show trending changes in the patient, physicians will use the report as well as gain insights previously undiscovered. As an example, consider an elderly patient who uses a Fitbit type device that collects or can collect data on activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.  If over the period of a year the amount of steps recorded is on a down trend, weight is increasing as well as heart rate, the physician would be armed with data that might predicate testing, initiate an exercise / diet discussion or just to stimulate a wider conversation than normal. Point in time routine tests would not trigger the same health alert that a regularly monitored patient’s data record might indicate. This is where AI and health-bots become applicable,  using these devices in an IoT sense, data can be transferred in an encrypted fashion to the medical facility on a regular basis, loading automatically to the correct patient record in a database, and with patient profile parameters and AI analysis, the data can be parsed, condensed and converted to simple reports.  If a patient’s data load suddenly triggers a concern when compared to normalized data, the physician can be notified along with the patient, facilitating the need for an office visit or additional testing.

 

Adapting gadgetry

Some IoT consumer gadgetry can be directly used or adapted into health consumerism. However there are some caveats that we will explore later.  Wi-Fi or internet connected lighting can rapidly be deployed for those with limited mobility. Connected home appliances and technology like TV remote automation, thermostat control, voice control (Alexa or Google), or remote cameras can be installed to assist those in need. What is missing today is not the technology, what is missing are services and training focused specifically to the impaired and elderly. An overlooked marketplace for devices already in production, I’m sure that won’t be for long.   Soon I expect geek squad like services, with training for that market sector, training in community centers, vetted devices with developed methodologies for installation and support with easy to follow manuals and ongoing service / support designed to help those who are aging or impaired.

Here is that piece of proverbial low hanging fruit, the Witti design Dotti !  The Dotti is marketed as a small pixel art light with notifications.  Ok? But the Witti marketing department is neglecting a sector where this device could be so much more, without doing anything but adapting the marketing plan.  Six months ago, I was in one of the local big box tech stores and saw the Dotti on the shelf at a substantial discount. I bought one as many have and will, because it is a cool looking gadget, it will notify you of all your social media notifications by your preference and configuration, and it will notify you visually of calls, missed calls, text messages and calendar events.  Wait, what?  Yep a large flashing red phone visual when your phone rings or you miss a call!  That singular functionality could help so many who have hearing disability or are might leave their phone sitting around, unlike today’s youth who are permanently tethered to their devices.  In my testing, I placed the Dotti in my garage and went about my outside business without my phone in hand. (outside yard work is not the best for cell phone survival) while mowing the grass out of the corner of my eye some 200 feet away I saw the flashing red phone icon, yep I missed a call and my attention was quickly drawn to the flashing red phone.  Applicability extends to text messages or your schedule, the flashing calendar and yes it will let you know you have Twitter or Facebook notifications if you must. This is Bluetooth connected, so an internet connection is not mandatory.  Witti, I’m coming to discuss marketing soon!

What can be and will be

Futurist predictions are often over promised, inflated or the foundation for the next buzzword, however I think these are safe bets that will soon become reality.  Virtual wellness checks. Wouldn’t it be great to know if Mom or Grandma was OK from anywhere in the world? Defining wellness though events in the living quarters is not particularly difficult.  Movement within the space, temperature changes, device usage, even Wi-Fi / IP connections can be used as an intelligent determination of wellness through action. Add the growing market of connected appliances and connected cars, Uber / Lyft automation and notification and you have all the components of building a normal living profile. While in the broader view there are gaps to overcome with security, privacy and defining parameters, and nothing replaces person to person communications, most of us have experienced those times where we haven’t talked to a loved one and some small reassurance of their activity would provide piece of mind.

As home data collection extends through connected appliances, the ability to monitor our food intake, from store or online order to final consumption will support comparative data points between our body stats and food consumption providing people and our medical professionals an improved correlation and a basis for health to diet planning. I will boldly state that dietary consumption to body health statistics like blood pressure, body mass, heart rates and exercise have the propensity to reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals that today are increasingly prescribed as we age.  Again, this will best be implemented using AI and bots for consolidation and analysis of the data but it reduces what today would be a laborious manual task that would soon be abandoned because of a lack of discipline. Let’s face it, while important, the time and effort required to manually record the individual datum will never be a reality for most of us, and isn’t that the core of automation?

 

Are we there yet?

Well, sort of.  The devices and sensory objects exist, are being refined and will continue to grow and be developed. However as many of us are all too familiar, we have security issues with IoT, that is not going away, ever.  What I have preached for some time is developing security from a symbiotic hardware and software perspective. Start with the design of the device, don’t compromise for cost.  I would prefer an industry standard and UL type independent safety and security approval over legislation, but we live in a place where buzz becomes the basis for law.  Let’s move towards standards before we get additional lawyers and lawmakers involved.  Government programs like NIST’s cybersecurity for IoT hold promise as well with efforts that include standards ad guidance.

Connectivity hardening and offline data collection need to happen.  Internet providers and IP, in general, is not totally dependable. There is an entire article in examining why.  In part, this issue stems from the DIY home user’s naivety, but extends to device manufacturers, cybersecurity ne’er-do-well’s and changing infrastructure.    Internet connections where IP becomes as dependable as dial tone was in days of yore aren’t quite here yet, but IP infrastructure is evolving, ranging from 5G to municipal Wi-Fi, Fiber to home and mesh networking I am confident in future dependability.   We need the ability to store data during outages to maintain collected data, store and forward is a legacy concept that is applicable to fill the gap when power or internet disruption occurs.  Home edge devices will develop. Expect a simplified/reduced form of industrial edge devices, where each connected user in the home has a storage profile that will collect, normalize, and hopefully preprocess data prior to upload the final destination.  We aren’t there yet, but we are well down the road.

Voice control is a component I have mentioned but not highlighted specifically, because of the aforementioned dependability of internet connections. It would be wonderful for anyone with an impairment to have the capability of issuing a voice command to turn on room lights, outside lights, the thermostat or change the TV channel.  However, can you imagine the frustration someone who is technology enhanced or perhaps technology dependent, if every device was back in manual mode because their connection is down?  One solution which I think will happen sooner than later is local command and control. Envision an embedded local device built into a future version of the Echo or Google home that retains all the profiles and commands used within the connected home, allowing the locally Wi-Fi connected devices to work normally during the outage. Fault tolerance for the home.  While you temporarily won’t be able to ask for current weather or order a pizza, your connected home will function normally until the connection is reinstated.   This leaves electrical power as the final foot stuck out to trip us up, and if the power fails, best grab a candle and the battery powered radio, call the provider and take a nap.

This is surface scratching, hopefully, thought provoking, because past the common impairments and age related support there is an entire growing tech market of biometrics, automated prosthetics, IP medical devices, video devices, video docs and medical record automation. All of which we will explore in future conversations and articles.

The future of the connected home is also a place for the Internet of Medical Things, the Internet of Things supporting the impaired and all the services, training and support that goes along with them.  The entirety of internet connected devices, the data that is rich in value, and the life improvements, both in health and activity will make this market relevant, significant, and most importantly helpful to those with need.

Like always, keep your bits out of the bucket.

-b

 

 

 

Welcome to the Press Corps

I have for the most part silently lamented over what I termed yesterday in reply to a friends publication as “competitive derision” ; this escalation of nastiness from people who have otherwise been welcomed connections or as this editorial outlet would describe as “friends” I have seen very smart people, people for whom I have great respect, sink past reasonable argument and the healthy exchange of thought, into intentional hurt, bullying, name calling and sadly disconnection and angered muting.

There have been some who have let us know they have had enough, taking a break, or as upset as I have been with the banter. I think it is wise counsel for those who cannot tolerate the discourse or realize they need self-restraint to take a time out. Welcome back whenever you’re ready.

For weeks the heaviness of my heart has grown, knowing that the passion all you lot possess is wonderful, no matter which side of the fence you stand, but tact is lacking, respect has been abandoned and cheeky is favored over discussion.

I take this time out of my forced sabbatical and pause my paid writing not to condemn, judge or complain but to point out what are overlooked subtleties, as well as unload some of that heaviness with the hope of nothing but a consideration.

We are blessed to live during a wonderful time in history an era where we have a growing plethora of connective technology with thousands of media outlets, instant access to one another and information from all over the globe. Inside of all of the blessings lay responsibility, we cannot overlook that Social Media is more than a moniker, it is the definition of a powerful revolution, you have joined the press corps. What’s great is most of us have no formal training, no corporate editorial direction, no paid sponsorship, it is raw thought, from grass roots personal opinion and feeling, that has never been published, promoted or shared in such an instant broad way throughout our history. That same constitutional freedom of speech now attaches you as part of the unfettered press that requires responsibility, consideration and most of all veracity.

As part of my personal veracity, I read some historical perspectives of the press, enjoying once again some of the quintessential “Twainisms”. Commentary on newspapers that is still relevant when applied to the media outlets of today.
“It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that the stupid people — who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations — do believe and are molded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies.”
– “License of the Press,” speech, 31 March 1873

Resonance certainly exists between Twain’s commentary on newspapers and today’s internet based media outlets, with the new cliché “it must be true it was on the internet” . I don’t agree in total with Twain, the crucial point is credibility. We, all of us are now a large portion of the media, in that we have to take responsibility for getting the facts right. That means digging deep, talking to a range of people to get the different sides of the story, and checking facts rigorously. We should not hesitate to root out and expose lies, hypocrisy, and corruption, but we have to be sure of the facts before doing so.

Credibility also means avoiding exaggeration or scare-mongering just to garner attention. Your writing, stories, shares, posts, tweets and replies can’t be based on sources with an ax to grind or knowingly false with the intent to provoke a false argument.

I understand that we are in the midst of one of the most polarized political seasons in recent history. Our leaders past and present also need to share in and exhibit responsibility in bringing a nation together and continue forward. With my previously stated heaviness of heart also lives contrary hope and wonder. Even amongst all the nasty muck and voracious commentary, there are shared nuggets of thought that I learn from every day. My hardline opinions may soften or harden based on facts or substantiated opinion of others. Knowing that as a collective the elementary school tactics will not cease, but hopefully develop to the place where the majority are responsible, civil, honest, and world changing.

We have been given, given for free, great tools, an elevation of our voices to a world stage and with it the responsibility to openly discuss our similarities and differences. Let us not be purposely divisive, avoid the cheeky bullish behaviors and deculturating commentary. Continue with a sense of consideration, not abandoning any of your beliefs or principals but to argue and discuss points in a way that minds may be changed. Pugilism is not persuasive discourse. If you are always on the attack you leave no room for listening, if your publication is continually offensive, overstated or lacking facts your credibility and in that your ability to change minds and promote your opinion is lost. At the same time, those in opposition might just prove something to you, they may change something you previously held true and you can’t be frightened of that possibility with automated conflicted commentary. Listen, research, understand and with truth, compassion, responsibility and great hope. Welcome to the fourth estate.

Whether you are a proponent or opponent of our previous president, his eloquence is irrefutable and the words in his last speech should resonant with any side and actionable by the same;
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.
Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.
If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.
If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”
-Barack Obama farewell address 2017

Balanced in spirit, from our newly installed president words that should be held close, measured and goal-worthy; “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
-Donald Trump inaugural speech 2017

One last bit of Twain towards closing, while promotion of civility and responsibility has been paramount in my thought and sharing of thought here, there is an antithetical consideration for satirical commentary, tongue in cheek and subtle poking, just be kind and understanding. Substitute Social Media for “our papers” and this as well holds true today.

“Our papers have one peculiarity — it is American — their irreverence . . . They are irreverent toward pretty much everything, but where they laugh one good king to death, they laugh a thousand cruel and infamous shams and superstitions into the grave, and the account is squared. Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. “
-Mark Twain’s Notebook

Outernet, it’s not about You!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanedavis

@w9bed_bryan

Stumbling about through various tech and radio forums one night, I happened across a thread about the “Outernet”, egotistically thinking what is this Outernet and why did it take two years  for me to discover it?

Logo https://outernet.is/

Seems I am in good company, while a quick Google search will return plenty of information, there is seemingly very little press promoting this enchanting technology.

Outernet calls itself “Radio for the digital age” which while technically correct, leads to a bit of confusion, Outernet is not about audio transmission, but “filecasting” .  From the Outernet website; “Outernet’s filecast is a groundbreaking innovation in broadcasting, marrying radio broadcasting with file delivery, transcending the format and time limitations of traditional radio or TV broadcasting.”

Still confused?  That’s Okay, Outernet is about transmitting files over radio transmissions VIA satellite to receivers which receive data and display the “filecasted” information on any web browser in a style reminiscent to the bulletin boards of the 80’s. Radio in contrary, the online experience holds with a traditional file hierarchy themed as a public library. With Librarian as the home page title, content is accessed using a simple, traditional, intuitive interface.

Curiosity piqued,  I ordered Outernet’s DIY components to receive their L-Band service to experience this alternative method of data sharing firsthand.  This is not a how-to or DIY article so briefly, the components arrived within a few days (they only traveled 30 miles VIA post) and went together within minutes.  I found a suitable spot that coincides with one of the Inmarsat Geostationary Satellite locations, fiddled around with the small L-Band receiving antenna to get the signal to noise ratio down and that was it, data packets were being received and cached.  As depicted, the installation is not pretty, not in an ideal location, nor permanent.  That was purposeful if this technology was deployed in the most rural areas, the poorest areas, likely with little technical prowess it not always going to be pretty. It had to function, as well it did.   After my successful “installation” I remembered all the websites and YouTube videos I watched while I awaited the hardware, so I knew best thing was to come back the next day and see what I had captured.

 

Installed Ugly!

 

Quick and dirty setup of the Outernet components…. Hey it works!

Sure enough the next day there were news stories, comprehensive world weather, and other bits of content some interesting, some seemingly specifically uploaded for a particular audience, very cool stuff.  The bitrate was very close to the 2kbps that Outernet mentions in spec, equal to about 20MB of content daily.   Okay, I see your faces, I know,  the question is naturally Why?  20MB in a day?   This is 2017 not 1984!  Yes I understand, if you are reading this, It’s NOT ABOUT YOU!    You have access to more content than consumable.  This is about the majority of the world population that does not have access to data.  It’s wonderful that the hobbyists among us are curious enough to try it out, to understand and through that curiosity help keep Outernet running and developing and transmitting data, but understand, this experience is not about You.

Browser Homepage.

 

Community Content page.

Those without…. Most of us

From the website http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ who provide yearly statistics of internet users to world population,  in 2016 we had not reached 50%  penetration of population.  Think of that the next time you complain about your WiFi.

Year Internet Users** Penetration
(% of Pop)
World
Population
Non-Users
(Internetless)
1Y User
Change
1Y User
Change
World Pop.
Change
2016* 3,424,971,237 46.1 % 7,432,663,275 4,007,692,038 7.5 % 238,975,082 1.13 %

 

Outernet has the potential to deliver content into areas where for the nearly 5 billion people today who lack basic internet access either because they live in remote rural areas or due to restrictive censorship on the part of the local government.   That’s what excites me! Other than the hardware cost  it is free, the technology can be solar powered,  has a self-contained Wi-Fi hotspot for easy connection, suffers from  few security concerns  (and let’s face it, this is certainly not a hacker target) and most importantly can get critical information including weather, health and safety to those who don’t have and have never had access!

Reasons why 4 billion don’t have internet access!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are these people?  Of course, they are everywhere, but this map illustrates the neediest in the world.

Keep it Simple

Quoting the Outernet website, their content goals.   (https://outernet.is/content-guidelines)

CONTENT GOALS

We do not have strict rules about what content topics belong on Outernet, but we encourage users to submit content that satisfies one of the following principles. That said, we also enjoy funny cat videos.

EDUCATION – A work that enables a user to be a more informed participant in society or aids in moving them towards a higher plane of knowledge or skill.

TRUTH – A work should be true and support the right of the public to truth.

TRANSPARENCY – A work should allow a user to have greater understanding of the institutions that affect their daily life.

EMPOWERMENT – A work that gives a user an enhanced ability to manipulate the course of their life towards their intended goal.

HEALTH AND SAFETY – A work that provides the information to lead a healthier, safer, and ultimately more enjoyable life.

QUALITY OF LIFE – A work that either directly or indirectly provides a means for a user to improve their quality of life.

Wonderful stuff for those without, sharing downloadable PDF books for children in remote areas to study, weather information,  simple things that most of us take for granted available to those who have never had.  It’s what our “information age” should be all about.

Some of the recent content downloaded includes:  interactive weather data, BBC News, Medline, World Health Organization files, Ham Radio files, Offline Wikipedia pages, every time you look there is something new as someone has uploaded content (that is proctored, monitored for acceptable content, yes it is censored)

Censored

Reminding you that our normal unfiltered American internet experience is not the intent, this is about education and access to vital, helpful data.  Since this data is available to locations who have stricter laws, different customs and government bans, Outernet’s premise is, if it doesn’t belong in the public library, it doesn’t belong on Outernet. Remember that library theme? Agreed, I am all about free speech and an open internet but when you have a very small bucket of content, an audience who has very little and focusing towards useful data (ok you can make your judgment on useful) relevant streamline content is paramount.

Who are they?

“Outernet Inc is a global broadcast data company which received its initial investment from the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a United States-based impact investment fund and non-profit organization established in 1995 Outernet’s goal is to provide free access to content from the web through geostationary and Low Earth Orbit satellites, made available effectively to all parts of the world.”

The company’s co-founder, Syed Karim, told the BBC  “When you talk about the internet, you talk about two main functions: communication and information access,”. “It’s the communication part that makes it so expensive.”

A single receiver in an African village, according to Karim’s  Ted Talk, could provide reams of valuable information to as many as 300 local residents—everything from school texts, agricultural texts to health, and human services. “If you were in the vicinity of a hotspot receiving the data from the satellite, you would be able to connect with Outernet on your phone and see Librarian—our index software—as if it was just an offline website,” he said. “There you would find the data, stored in files.”

 

What we can do?

If you see the value of placing human services, educational and health data in the hands of those without, the single best action is to promote, build awareness, and spread the word.  Secondly if your curious and a hobbyist sort, buy a lantern or the DIY bits and assemble your own, you will garner a great experience, understand and appreciate what you already have, while supporting future development and refinement of the platform.  Spread the word, it may not be for you, but it’s not all about you is it??

The Outernet Lantern appliance

Calendar oh Calendar, how I have missed you!

google-calendar

Separating from my employer created a whirlwind of change, most of which I was prepared. The one thing I had not considered was the loss of my corporate integrated calendar.  Most of us manage our days and meetings and life to an extent through an integrated calendar with email, the ability to save links, reminders all those “taken for granted” elements we so subtly use to manage our day with structure.  Sure like many millions of others I have a calendar on my phone, but it had not been well linked to my desktop and personal email because it hadn’t been needed.  As I began both my job search and taking the time for career coaching, outplacement services and learning opportunities I knew something was missing.  Then it happened, my very punctual, always prepared persona, missed a meeting.  It wasn’t anything critical,  it was a class setting so not a travesty like missing an interview or a deadline, but to me, it reinforced that missing element of daily life, a proper schedule.  I wasn’t myself.

I had been committing my post-employment schedule to memory and a few phone entries for critical to-do’s, but I hadn’t been keeping a regimented daily plan, after three weeks I realized I need something more substantial.  Enter my quick fix Google Calendar, it integrates nicely with my phone, syncing up entries from the desktop to the phone and vice versa, provided ample room for notes and links and phone numbers and configurable notifications.  I am sure I will find a better tool over time, but this is free, works well and most importantly, I was organized again.

There is a very true, common saying that when you are out of work, your full-time job is seeking employment.  Part of that truism is the need to stay organized, keeping a stringently managed, structured day is critical.  You feel better, you are able to identify openings in your day to fit in another webinar, reach out or extend your network, learn something new.

There are many of us looking for the right, next opportunity  part of finding it, is to stay on track and stay organized, it is easy in that time between to lose some of your normal organization, don’t!  I strongly urge you to keep that structure and planning as part of your day. It not only keeps you on track, efficient and effective, but it bridges the old routine, to the new routine.

-b

YAIOTSB Yet another IoT Security Blog

Bryan Davis

Security of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been the hot press  topic in recent times.  It’s if that we the collective users and technologists had the epiphany and mass realization that our “things” are not necessarily secure.

IoT is a broad collection, from a device and hardware perspective  it is a collection including everything from the homeowners NEST thermostat, to the control systems used in industry, from the lowly NodeMCU  to large control systems like Honeywell’s Experion® Process Knowledge System (PKS) or Allen Bradley systems.   IoT is also a collection of data, stored locally and in the cloud, concatenation of the data collected from individuals or corporate systems all with the intent of providing relative, accurate data for decision making.  Therein lays the real issue, securing IoT devices and data is not and in the foreseeable future will not be a one size fits all model.  Good news…. It need not be!

Meetings and groups and consortiums will over time develop agreed upon standards on security and interoperability all with direction towards a panacea which we know will be part of an ongoing war between the user community and the nefarious (defined as unethical) hackers who we all feel could better spend their time productively within our community.  These efforts will be ongoing,  in a fledgling industry (not really but the buzz indicates so) there will be many interim steps as well as many publicized events of breaches.

Knowing the vulnerabilities and wide net that IoT has and will encompass lets us categorize and address security issues in a logical manner beginning with the cliché low hanging fruit, working towards the nirvana of encapsulated secure interaction of devices and controlled accessibility to collected data.

From that wide net  view of IoT we have to secure the following elements, each which will need to be addressed in both separate and combined fashion as elements become part of larger and growing systems and networks of collected data and useful output.

Sensors – the simplest core units may not need any special attention, for instance the 2N3906 transistor used as a temperature reading device  has no individual method or need for securing its data, however the system to which it is connected, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or an Edge server with 1000’s of connected sensors will need to be addressed  and addressed at many levels.  Data collection devices – this includes smart phones, the microcontroller, microcomputers including those mentioned previously to large specialized devices that are both storage and network enabled passing data to larger repositories

User Devices – from smart phones,  dedicated displays, tablets, laptops to most any computing device as a point of entry.  These devices are the portals to entry,  the link to the network.  We all know the ongoing issues with phone security as well as the security of devices when left to the induvial user  (not accounting here for corporate policies)  With more sensors and data collection, remnants of that data is left behind in memory and files all with varying degrees of sensitivity and

Network – including  Ethernet, Wifi, Bluetooth, xbee, zigbee and a plethora of developing low voltage – long distance protocols and hardware.  Each of these presents it’s own unique vulnerability and course of action.  The network arena with various IPSEC strategies and specialists is well known well addressed and constantly on alert.  There will certainly be ongoing work and the continuing war between the white and black hats, but we are not starting from a position of ignorance here.

Storage – public storage,  in that last media darling buzz word, cloud and cloud storage, past the network component challenges of  secure backup, archival, physical and network security rolled into one.  We all assume cloud datacenters to be secure, but those assumptions often are where  we experience learning in the future.  Current issues surrounding the integrity, backup, replication and longevity (archival) are ongoing, addressable and preparatory for the future growth and onslaught of data.

Reporting – tools and people using the collected data, this  is where the real useful nature of IoT lays, taking all of that collected data and developing the trends, truths and evidence to assist personkind with improving life , business and condition.  The integrity, accuracy and controlled accessibility  of both people and connected tools are the primary concerns.  It can be viewed as we view HIPAA, who should have access and are there specific privacy concerns of this aggregated data.  We have many frameworks for datasets that can be applied to reporting and the eyes which view the reports,  now is the time to segregate and apply the appropriate measure.

 

Consumer devices are combining and crossing the elemental lines described above from smart home devices,  smart TV and phones to the explosion within the makerspace community and the popularity of cheap microcomputers and controllers, all of which in similar fashion to the user devices above leave security in the hands of the end user.  Which creates a range of user applied security, from those who take it seriously, know the latest vulnerabilities diligently addressing and patching, to those who never change the default password.   Education and training, along with some harshly learned lessons are all that can be systemically addressed at the individual level.

Our data must be considered in similar vein to small  children, never leave it unattended, watch it carefully and be a diligent caretaker / caregiver.

We will long be hearing about security issues with the IoT and IIoT ( industrial internet of things) , there will be events , there will be news and there will be times of panic.  Vast is the foreseeable landscape of profit, benefit and knowledge,  we will together forge ahead, knowing those people and the issues they create, we will be both proactive and sometimes reactive.  Nothing about data security is easy,  the effort is active and underway on many fronts,  IoT  and all it contains has a bright future as long as we continue the work and the hard work of staying a step ahead.

As with security, there will be an ongoing blog… to be continuous. lab