IoT Tech Expo: Building sustainable transport solutions

Anyone who travels in a major city will be aware the increasing number of vehicles on the road is unsustainable from both a practical and environmental point of view. Jeremy Dalton, CTO of TravelSpiritprovided some insight on how we can build sustainable transport solutions for smart cities during a session at the IoT Tech Expo. 

The length of the average commute is on the rise. While other factors also contribute, the increasing amounts of traffic in most cities have a large part to play. As seen in the research below, the daily commute is now up to 40 percent longer in some areas in 2013 than it was in 2005. 

Using the example of Brighton, if we multiply the average increased daily commute time of 19 minutes by the average 235 working days of a full-time employee, we find each worker now spends an extra 74 hours per year just getting to and from work. That’s over three days worth of lost time. Multiply that again by Brighton’s 87,000 full-time workers (according to 2015 census) and we reach a staggering 6,483,000 lost hours per year across Brighton’s population. 

Aside from the impact which inefficient transportation is having on the amount of time we have for work and personal activities each year, emissions from burning fossil fuels are causing havoc with our environment. Despite where you stand on climate change, there’s no denying the effect pollutants are having on global health while the rate we’re depleting fuels is also unsustainable. 

While it will take continued advancements in renewable energy for us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, smart cities provide an opportunity for us to build more sustainable and efficient transport systems which can get us to our destinations both quicker and healthier. 

Enter yet another ‘as-a-Service’ known as MaaS, or Mobility-as-a-Service. At its core, it’s the idea we’ll move from ownership of vehicles towards shared use and in doing so we open up a range of more efficient transportation methods. 

Those who can afford the high-tech self-driving vehicles we’ll see emerge over the next decade can have them pick up others and earn money for the owner when they’re not in use. “Instead of our cars being idle 80% of the day, now they’re going to be out there working for us,” explains Dalton. 

This will mean fewer cars on the road and less sat idle for most of the day when they could be assisting others with getting around. In fact, MIT put out a report (PDF) which concluded autonomous cars will reduce overall vehicle count by 80 percent. The caveat with their predictions is that it’s based on vehicles being deployed in fleets as public transport to get people out from their private ownership model. “In the end what is exciting, I think, is you’re going to have fewer cars on the road,” said Carlos Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab run by MIT.

MaaS will also enable new models of transport monetisation; such as unlimited travel using a driverless service for a monthly fee. Beyond city-level, regional, or even nationwide transport, your subscription could even allow you to access transportation in other countries when you travel for work or leisure. 

“A lot of people think smart mobility is just self-driving cars, generally it comes down to one of three things,” says Dalton. “First is smart parking, this is a really big topic in a lot of cities. Fewer cars circling around looking for spaces means less congestion, and less congestion means better air quality.” 

Startups capitalising on smart parking include Parkanizer and Save-a-Space, along with EU-backed initiatives promoting developments such as frontierCities and FIWARE. The apps, currently in limited tests, enable drivers to see available parking spaces and book them ahead of time as well as report back automatically when they leave and their space is now vacant for others.  

“Another one is signals. Whether that’s V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) stuff where you’re giving priority to cars coming along like autonomous cars, or electric vehicles, or whatever else you’re trying to promote,” continues Dalton. 

This will help those night-time drives when you’re sat at a traffic light with nothing else around just because it’s on a set timer. Your vehicle will be able to communicate with the light to report you’re waiting and if nothing else is waiting on the other side it could switch to green and safely let you continue your journey. For emergency vehicles, lights at other junctions on their route could switch red for other road users to let them cross quickly. 

“And of course there’s autonomous vehicles. The terms ‘evolutionary’ and ‘revolutionary’ apply particularly to self-driving vehicles,” says Dalton. “Think about Tesla slowly rolling out autonomous car features versus Google’s more revolutionary ‘here it is, from scratch, no steering wheel…’ approach.” 

Dalton points out the UK, in particular, is looking to lead in self-driving cars. The DfT (Department for Transport) is working hard to create an environment for autonomous vehicles to be developed with little hindrance. This involves looking at policy implications early on around things like insurance, and whether the same rules apply if the occupant is an adult, or a child being taken to school. 

With the introduction of the likes of Uber and Lyft, these innovative services are providing a ‘stepping stone’ towards moving away from everyone owning a vehicle. Although not (yet) autonomous, many people now use Uber as their main transport, especially now the company has introduced cheaper fares by ‘pooling’ with other users. However, it’s still going to be a big jump to persuade citizens to jump in a vehicle with no driver whatsoever.

What are your thoughts on the future of sustainable transport? Let us know in the comments.

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage

How to find your role in the IoT data flood

(c)iStock.com/peterhowell

The march towards a connected world is bringing forth a new breed of analyst. Just as connecting towns and cities with highways brought on the need for roadside diners, rest stops and increased police presence; connecting individuals and their behaviours with devices, programs and businesses creates a need for an information mediator.

A report released by Cisco refers to this role as the ‘Data Infomediary’; a role that is necessary “within the big data analytics ecosystem…if the industry is to reach its ultimate potential and satisfy all of the big data hype.”

Data Infomediaries will live at the intersection of IoT, big data and those who rely on that data to make decisions. It is expected that within the role, there will be four key objectives: federation, innovation, governance and scale.

Federation

Currently, no marketplace exists for big data. Companies can buy and sell specific sets of data but the uninhibited exchange and easy amassing of information to find and recognise trends does not exist. Companies and industries that have excelled at data collection and analysis in the absence of IoT are positioned to reap the greatest rewards.

Within the insurance industry, for example, it is not uncommon for one company to supplement their own claims data with that from third-party databases. The third-party databases compile data from social media feeds and industry sources to look for anomalies and identify fraud.

Data Infomediaries provide a method of transition that alleviates legal and business concerns associated with acquiring and using data. This opens the doors for companies of all sizes to benefit from big data.

Innovation

Developing new ways of handling data, especially in the areas of authentication and management, is absolutely necessary. Both companies and end-users struggle to keep-up with numerous credentialing and log-in requirements and with re-entering information on various sites.

Businesses need the ability to quickly verify that data is sound and can be considered in statistical analyses however managing these responsibilities in-house can be overwhelming. Data infomediaries will supply businesses with vetted data in ready-to-use formats.

Governance

Within the Wild West of big data, there is little oversight or self-governance which leads government agencies to restrict the use of data by companies of all sizes. Data infomediaries create order and establish industry standards for the use of data. This role also builds trust with the consumer generating the data so that the consumer feels comfortable allowing their information to be used – contributing to a healthier, overall ecosystem.

Scale

Perhaps the largest stumbling block facing many organizations is the sheer volume of data that must be stored, accessed and processed in order for the value to be extracted. Data infomediaries will become the subject matter experts in this field and will develop innovative and cost-effective solutions to these problems; opening the door for companies to gain access to beneficial analysis results.

What’s next?

The role of Data Infomediary is still in its infancy. Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are already developing solutions for the storage, access and processing of large volumes of data. These solutions are capable of processing multiple data analysis request simultaneously while continuing to function as storage and recall.

Developing software solutions that will answer the need for dynamic analysis based on the inputs of data will experience particularly high demand. The solutions must be robust, reliable, efficient and secure while still allowing multiple, vetted access points.

Those entering the Data Infomediary space rely on experienced developers to craft solutions that will meet these strict needs while incorporating analytical IP and governance.

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage

Gartner: 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ in use worldwide in 2017

(c)iStock.com/RyanKing999

Gartner expects 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ to be in use in 2017, up 31% from the year before, according to the analyst house’s latest prognostication.

The company’s previous figure of 20.8 billion connected things by 2020 – possibly the most frequently cited Internet of Things (IoT) statistic of them all – has been revised slightly downwards, to 20.4 billion, while total spending on endpoints and services will hit almost $ 2 trillion this year.

Gartner also confirmed something the industry has known for a while; despite the consumer side of IoT being arguably a more attractive proposition, the B2B arm is where the money is at right now. Combining cross-industry and vertical-specific spend, business will hit $ 964 billion compared to $ 725bn for consumer in 2017. Yet by 2020, Gartner predicts consumer to go ahead, with $ 1.494 trillion compared to business’ paltry $ 1.431tn.

This comes amidst a much greater influx of consumer IoT unit installs; by 2020, Gartner expects this to be 12.9 billion, compared to 7.5bn for the business side. “IoT services are central to the rise in IoT devices,” said Denise Rueb, Gartner research director in a statement. “Services are dominated by the professional IoT-operational technology category in which providers assist businesses in designing, implementing and operating IoT systems. However, connectivity services and consumer services will grow at a faster pace.

“Consumer IoT services are newer and growing off a small base. Similarly, connectivity services are growing robustly as costs drop, and new applications emerge,” added Rueb.

Elsewhere, a study from HCL Technologies has found a lack of coordination in enterprises adopting the Internet of Things. Of the more than 250 survey respondents – who were subjected to a ‘rigorous multi-level screening process’ in order to prove they were serious about IoT before they participated – almost half (49%) said an uncoordinated and siloed approach was keeping their organisation in the pilot stage, while a similar number (50%) said they were already behind the curve.

“Many companies have made inroads into the IoT, but when you peel away the layers, very few have embarked on truly transformative programs,” said Sukamal Banerjee, HCL executive vice president. “Success depends on an enterprise-wide IoT strategy that centralises a significant portion of the data from connected assets onto a single platform, where it can be used to generate revenues and new opportunities.

“It is only by doing so that they will reach the ultimate goals of IoT: organisational efficiency, more profitable business models and competitive edge.”

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage

Auto Compensation: UK wants victims of self-driving car accidents to be quickly compensated

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/chombosan)

The UK is planning ahead of how insurance will be handled in the self-driving era with a framework that ensures accident victims are quickly compensated.

Among the biggest questions surrounding the roll-out of self-driving cars is that of insurance and how it will function when there’s no-one in control of the vehicle. This has gained extra attention over the past year as more self-driving tests were conducted, and more accidents were reported. 

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said: Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive.” 

“But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and this week we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies.” 

Google published accident reports of its self-driving vehicles throughout last year until November when it reported the first month without an incident. You can find that final report here (PDF) 

Self-driving cars will improve road safety as they reduce human error from things such as tiredness, distractions, medical problems, and people who drive intoxicated. Machines aren’t foolproof, however, and despite safeguards, accidents will happen. This will occur more in the early days as machines learn to deal with various scenarios, but the unpredictability of the roads and other users are sure to cause problems years down the line. 

David Williams, head of underwriting, at AXA UK, another insurer said: The vast majority of accidents are caused by human error and we see automated vehicles having a massive impact, reducing the number and severity of accidents.  

The government’s plan would have driverless car owners signing up for dedicated two-in-one’ insurance policies. One policy would cover the vehicle’s driver when it’s being driven conventionally, while the other would cover the vehicle when it’s driving itself. 

When a car is being driven by a person, that individual will be responsible if the accident was deemed their fault and will have to pay the excess on their policy where appropriate and face higher renewal premiums, as today. A vehicle in driverless mode, however, will mean the insurer paying out compensation and recovering it from the manufacturer. 

Edmund King, president of insurance firm AA, said: There has been much debate about the whether the driver, manufacturer or indeed highway authority would be liable in a driverless collision. This announcement puts the onus on the driver to ensure that they are fully covered.” 

By introducing such two-in-one’ policies, the government hopes to avoid the confusion of who the claim should be filed against in the event of an incident which involves a driverless vehicle, and offer victims quick and easy access to compensation. 

What are your thoughts on the UK’s plan for driverless car insurance? Let us know in the comments.

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage

Why the IoT is set to present an ‘unmanageable’ cybersecurity risk

(c)iStock.com/DNY59

In its latest report, titled “Internet of Things for Security Providers: Opportunities, Strategies, & Market Leaders 2016-2021”, Juniper Research found that the consumer IoT installed base will reach over 15 billion units by 2021, which is an increase of 120% over 2016.

It also found that the recent IoT botnets will prove merely to be the tip of the cybersecurity iceberg. Botnets were uncovered as a key factor in the largest DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack ever recorded in 2016.

The report found that the use of botnets to disrupt Internet services form part of the near-term threat landscape. It predicted that botnets will be used for more malicious purposes in future, impacting consumer, industrial and public services markets.

The report urges IoT device manufacturers to implement security-by-design, adding that corporate-scale vendors such as Amazon, Google and Samsung should lead efforts to galvanise other vendors to apply security best-practices.

Moreover, it was also found that the market is wide open for challenger cybersecurity vendors. It highlighted providers such as Crossword and Positive Technologies who are using machine learning to disruptively protect against DDoS and malicious network activity.

The report further predicted that the industry will be forced to move beyond traditional signature-based detection methods in the near-term in order to address IoT cybersecurity effectively.

It isn’t a surprise to find that security scare stories are not particularly hard to come by right now. Last month, a joint study of 600 respondents conducted by the Ponemon Institute, IBM Security, and Arxan Technologies argued that 60% are aware that their organisation has suffered a security incident through an insecure mobile app. Of that number, 11% of overall respondents know with ‘certainty’, 15% opted for ‘most likely’ and 34% went with ‘likely’.

According to Dave Worrall, CTO of Secure Cloudlink, the expected growth in the IoT market will increase security risks and make organisations and people more vulnerable to hackers. He feels that passwords should not be used as a means for authentication as they are outdated and will not be able to cope with the rise of IoT.

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage