This is why data privacy matters!

It’s me in front of my tell-all smart TV. And my hears-all Amazon Echo.

Did you know your television is watching you? Specifically, that most smart TVs are sending data off to their makers and in certain cases, to marketers. Consumer Reports showcased the security flaws and the lack of privacy inherent in connected TV in a report last week, while over at Gizmodo Kashmir Hill has a new article out about privacy in the smart home that puts a big focus on televisions.

It’s no secret that internet-connected TVs share data with others, nor is it remarkable that most TVs available today are smart. That’s what allows you to watch Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime shows. But the rest of our appliances are also going the way of TV. Samsung and Kenmore both say that, going forward, all of their appliances will have some kind of connectivity built into them.

And for many, the features enabled by connected devices will mostly outweigh the fears of data surveillance. I’m not talking about connected light bulbs and home automation here, but about adding truly innovative and helpful features to once-dumb appliances, letting them become truly smart.

An example of this is a washing machine that can tell how dirty your clothes are and select the proper cycle. Or a fridge that can offer you a remote camera feed to the inside so you can see what’s on the shelf. Maybe the fridge could reorder your water filter when it’s getting old. Even better, maybe that same filter could report back on the purity of the water to environmental agencies and consumers as a way to ensure public health.

Smarter products will have to be connected in order to create information exchanges that benefit the consumer, the manufacturer, and maybe even society. However, the industry so far is screwing this up with an ineptitude driven by greed, short-term thinking, and a desire to act first and beg forgiveness later.

This is emblematic of the culture built up over the last two decades in technology, where we took the internet and used it to turn users into the product. The current backlash against Silicon Valley companies is a reaction to this exchange of personal data for services. Especially as the services became more about keeping the person engaged to the exclusion of their well-being or the well-being of society.

This may sound like hippie dippie stuff, but there is a direct link from Google and Facebook’s behavior to the privacy concerns that people have with regard to connected devices. That those concerns are completely justified only makes it worse.

I’ve spent years trying to tell the industry and the government that privacy matters. Not just because it’s a basic right, but because if you respect people’s privacy and offer them agency over controlling their data, they are more likely to buy the product. And if you offer them a compelling reason to share their data while still offering them some control, you actually build a model where the data you collect has to benefit the user or the larger society.

We are starting to see some momentum on this front, and I am hopeful that 2018 will be a turning point in the U.S. The General Data Protection Regulation in the EU has already established a framework for how to establish data privacy as a human right. What’s even more promising is that many of the regulations in the GDPR are impossible or difficult to implement today, and the EU realizes that.

The hope is that the EU will guide technologists in developing tools that match the regulatory framework while the regulatory stick offer will offer an incentive for companies to make a market to develop the tools required to meet the law. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., technologists are increasingly asking themselves how to get and use data responsibly.

While this entire essay is focused on the importance of managing user privacy and the intentional gathering and sharing of consumer data, security is also related to the topic. Specifically, what happens to consumer data when security is breached. As it stands, consumers are worried both about a loss of their privacy to companies, but also to hackers as part of the all-too-often security breaches.

Until the tech companies get their priorities in order and the government steps up with rules that give consumers some control over their information, I believe the promise of the smart home will never take off, because consumers won’t trust it.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Opinion: Why blockchain matters for the IoT

Opinion: Why blockchain matters for the IoT

Blockchain could be hugely important for the IoT, but is the incorruptible digital ledger for transactions as robust as it needs to be, asks Adrian Bridgwater?

Blockchain technology was originally designed to serve as the computing foundation and model underpinning the Bitcoin cryptocurrency – but it is proving to be capable of doing so much more besides.

At its heart, it is an open distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties in a verifiable and permanent way. In the case of the IoT, those ‘parties’ might of course be sensors, machines, devices, or output streams emanating from data services that have been engineered to serve those original ‘things’.

Now seen as applicable outside the confines of ‘mere’ cryptocurrency, blockchain methodology (and the data that resides within it) is lauded as inherently resistant to modification. This means that the data held within each block should be immune to hacking and alteration.

Why is this so? It’s because the data it holds exists as a ‘shared and continually reconciled’ database, hosted on millions of computers around the planet, so that no single version exists in one single place.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value,” write father-and-son team Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott in last year’s Blockchain Revolution.

Read more: Cargo shipping tech specialist MTI completes blockchain pilot

So what does blockchain do for IoT?

Broadly speaking, this should be a positive benefit for machine data security in an IoT world that grew up with what are widely agreed to be less-than-adequate levels of security provisioning.

Blockchain connections can be set up for devices so that their synaptic data connection points (whether through application programming interfaces or other core networking protocols) become the basis of a reputation system based upon past transactional history.

In practical terms, this could mean that an autonomous car from BMW, for example, can write to a dedicated distributed ledger for automotives, tracking anything from the market price of a vehicle to its road safety records to its miles-per-gallon performance and so on. They key here is that this BMW’s information is regarded to be more validated than that which comes from an unknown source.

We can also now move to so-called tokenization in cryptocurrency microtransactions based on blockchain, designed to enable humans (or other electronic systems) to pay for services automatically. This could allow us to move more quickly towards machine-to-machine IoT-centric areas such as automatic inventory tracking, ordering and management.

In other words, the network is starting to come alive on its own, just a little bit.

Read more: IBM leads consortium promoting blockchain in food supply chains

Is it hackable?

We do know that blockchain is essentially secure, via its distributed nature. Notwithstanding the development of some uber-networked quantum computing brain that is capable of penetrating every device on the planet, we should be able to trust in the bulk of what it offers us.

What is not fully robust (and may never be) is how hackable this seemingly anonymized ledger of records is. We might, however, use machine data streams (fed into platforms such as Splunk, for example) to crunch data and look for anomalous patterns that might help to identify which blockchain transactions relates to who or what.

To explain the above in more practical terms, we can cross-reference all other transactions made on the web (on social media platforms, ecommerce sites and so on), especially if we are given government freedom to do so, and then correlate this with the blockchain that we think could represent corollary figures and records.

This means that blockchain systems underpinning the IoT could be tracked to a records chain that most logically represents the activity of the devices we are trying to hack.

Read more: Railways and post in Thailand to benefit from IoT and blockchain

A blockchain truism?

Yes, this technology is game changing. Yes, it is global. And yes, it will have an impact upon the IoT. In Dubai, UAE, the government has set out goals to be the first blockchain-powered government for all transactions by 2020. So yes, blockchain matters.

But at this stage, in 2017, what (arguably) matters for any organisation working to develop (or finesse) an IoT strategy is that this strategy should have space for blockchain in future, as an enabling technology at the foundational layer.

Coming soon: Our IoT Build events, taking place in London in November 2017 and San Francisco in March 2018 are a great opportunity for attendees to explore the platforms, architectures, applications and connectivity that comprise the IoT ecosystem.


The post Opinion: Why blockchain matters for the IoT appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Divides

We are currently living a special moment in time, a sort of paradox.

Today, almost half of the world’s population already has Internet access. This figure is much higher than anything we could have anticipated 10 years ago, an achievement we should be happily celebrating.

But a recent report by the Internet Society, Paths To Our Digital Future, shows there are no guarantees when it comes to the Internet’s future.  To achieve a digital future where people come first will require new thinking, new approaches, and new tools for this rapidly changing world around us.

And with this we find ourselves facing an even greater challenge. This is no longer the Internet of 10% of the world’s population. It is the Internet of 50% of the people around the world; in some countries, Internet penetration is now close to 100%.

The Internet has become essential, and the opportunity gap between those who are connected and those who are not grows each day. We cannot afford to remain indifferent to this Internet revolution.

If we don’t connect the remaining 50%, this gap could have long-term consequences for the opportunities that present themselves later in life.

After the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, discussions on the digital divide have become more concrete and have gained greater visibility. We are no longer talking just about connecting people, but about how we use the Internet and ICTs to achieve development goals in education, health care, employment, gender equality, and other areas.

If we do not make further progress in Internet development, we will not make progress in bringing benefits such as universal education and access to health care services. We will not make progress towards achieving the SDGs, which will affect the ability for people to improve their quality of life. In the end, it’s all about people and people should be at the heart of our work.

Next week, the Internet Society will be participating at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC). Government, private sector, and civil society representatives from around the world will meet for this significant international conference organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is where critical work must happen. Policy and decision makers will meet from around the world to make decisions about the future of things like Internet access.

It is critical that the world send a clear message that we need a digital future where humanity is at the hear of the Internet. And for that to happen will require new thinking, new approaches, and new tools for this rapidly changing world around us.

An example of this can be seen in something known in the Internet world as “Community Networking.” Community Networks are typically built so some of the words hardest-to-reach places can connect. Many of them are, in a way, “homemade.” In fact, one of their most exciting commonalities is they can be built by anyone, regardless of technical background

Community Networks are a clear example of what we need more of. We need world leaders to stand behind them and support policies that can make them happen. Especially when we participate along with governments that can help scale activities and make changes to old policies – changes that innovate to enable infrastructure development.

Countries that don’t design and implement concrete strategies for Internet development and Internet-based development may not be able to fully achieve their sustainable development goals, seriously compromising their future.

This is a great opportunity for governments, an opportunity that should not be wasted. An opportunity for sharing experiences, for setting aggressive goals – the time for modest goals is long gone – and for making sure that legal, regulatory and political frameworks will be catalysts and enablers of development, not obstacles hindering its progress.

It’s time to move forward. Together we can tell policies and decision makers it’s time to #ShapeTomorrow and give the world the tools it needs to achieve the SDGs.

Let’s take action for a connected world.

The post Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Divides appeared first on Internet Society.

Internet Society

Why China’s own ‘Bay Area’ matters now for your company

Shenzhen, China

Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of spending significant time on the ground in China for ReadWrite and ReadWrite Labs. While here in China, I’m continuously discovering new opportunities that exist and even more reasons for foreign startups and corporations to consider getting started in China.

However entering a new any new market can be overwhelming without the right information or guiding trip. So here’s a quick start guide for anyone currently thinking about expanding into China.

1. Largest consumer market globally ($ 1.3bn+)

It’s no secret that China has the largest consumer market in the world with almost 1.4 billion people and rising. What some may not be aware of is that China will present what will be the greatest middle-class growth bump of any country since the United States beginning in the early 1950s. In fact, by 2022 over 76 percent of China’s urban population will be considered middle class according to a McKinsey & Company study. That’s roughly (in today’s numbers) over 550 million people who are ready to be your customers.

As that population continues to grow so will the country’s internet users, specifically mobile. Today China alone has over 700 million (with 30% growth in 2016) active mobile internet users. Which equates to the largest sandbox for applications, gaming, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more.

2. The Greater Bay Area

China's Greater Bay AreaFor those unfamiliar with the term, it is not an extension of the San Francisco Bay Area, in fact, it’s more than three times larger. The Greater Bay Area is part of China’s initiatives to drive innovation throughout the country. To put it in perspective here’s just a few stats about this newly defined region,

  • 11 cities make up the region (Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou (third largest city in China), Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen, and Zhaoqing)
  • 67+ million people now within less than a one hour drive
  • 16 and growing Fortune 500 companies have a headquarters within the region – more following
  • $ 1.36 trillion dollars in combined GDP for the area in 2016 (compared to the San Francisco’s Bay Area of $ 431.7 billion GDP in 2015)
  • Each city will have a dedicated focus on an industry (Manufacturing, Finance, Travel, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) with local benefits provided for those doing business locally

3. Innovation at scale

WeChatThe days of copycats are fading away throughout China in favor of innovative ideas that push industries forward rather than oversaturate. These changes are gaining momentum at astounding rates thanks to ambitious entrepreneurs and corporations, along with enormous governmental support. All three are hungry to lead with entrepreneurs craving advice and education on Silicon Valley success.

Local businesses are opening their doors welcoming global partners and providing support or insights on the local markets. Governments throughout all cities within China are offering are making it easier for foreign companies to soft-landing and establish while providing necessary benefits for those that decide to expand to China.

Don’t believe that innovation is growing at scale in China? Here are some stats that might help,

  • China is now the No. 1 interactive game market globally beating the US
  • China accounts for 67% of ALL global on demand transportation
  • Bike sharing users now make up more than 20 million people with 100%+ monthly growth rate
  • China mobile payment volume in 2016 reached over $ 5 trillion dollars (2x compared to last year)
  • E-commerce in China is now taking place 71% on mobile devices
  • China online advertising revenue is now a $ 40 billion dollar market
  • Tencent, the largest gaming company in the world now has over 1.5 billion active users worldwide
  • Huawei is the No.1 telecommunication equipment company in the world
  • Huawei is also leading the development of our future 5G wireless infrastructure
  • DJI currently represents almost 90% of global Drone market

The takeaway for this article is that there’s no better time to get started in China than now. While also understanding that China isn’t shying away from its goal to be the leader in innovation, nor to become the global business hub. In their efforts, they are welcoming all those interested to join the ride.

But if you’re still not convinced why you need to be in China or if it’s right for you, join me on a trip around the country. We’ll spend 5-days in China meeting with the local government and community leaders, as well as corporations that can serve as strategic partners, and to talk with the founders and executives of the largest and most successful companies in China.

To learn more and get started, click here.

The post Why China’s own ‘Bay Area’ matters now for your company appeared first on ReadWrite.


Far beyond asset tracking: why location information matters in IoT projects

Geo IoT: Two men standing in a factory and looking at a tablet computer.

Location information is an essential part of every IoT project. You could even say it is essential to know the position of a thing, as this gives meaning to condition information collected for millions of connected devices every day. In this context, you may be familiar with the term “asset tracking.” It describes a solution that helps you know where your assets are – and find missing ones.

Geo IoT goes much further by combining localization and IoT technology . Not only do you know the precise location of an asset, you can also monitor its condition in real time. Freight companies, for example, rely on Geo IoT to monitor the condition of their goods in transit. By collecting information from your things, you can analyze who uses them how and when. This, in turn, makes it possible to trigger events and alerts, or set up access for certain users.

An infographic showing the difference between asset tracking and Geo IoT.

What are the differences between asset tracking and Geo IoT? A power tool provides clear answers.

Next-generation asset tracking

Geo IoT combines position data with additional sensor information. This opens up great opportunities for creating new geo-aware solutions .

In retail, the tracking of shopping carts allows you to analyze the dwell times and movement patterns of customers in a store. Why not leverage this data to optimize product placement?

In agriculture, locating a tractor regardless of its manufacturer can allow you to identify how tractors are used and how much distance they have covered. In addition, foresters can pinpoint and track stacks of timber and forestry tools. This is crucial given the rise in timber theft.

In aviation, geofencing ensures that specific pieces of equipment will remain in certain locations – and they will be on hand for maintenance tasks, if necessary.

In health care, monitoring the data on equipment use can make certain that treatment is nonstop and more efficient.

In manufacturing and logistics, the tracking of pallet trucks and routing of workers results in efficient workflows and production processes.

There are many examples throughout every industry. There is tremendous potential, but exploiting all that Geo IoT has to offer is more complicated. Customer expectations infrequently correspond to what localization technologies can currently deliver. We are frequently confronted with the wish for very accurate real-time tracking – using existing infrastructure components and localization technologies that work well together – all at a low price.

In reality, however, the technology landscape is highly fragmented. Every vendor adopts its own approach; environmental and regulatory restrictions impact your choice of a corresponding technology.

Ultimately, people must accept a compromise between a company’s requirements and a localization technology’s capabilities.

Making a success of Geo IoT

Irrespective of the localization technology you plan on using – whether it is GPS, GSM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or some other solution – there is no general-purpose technology that will always meet all requirements.

Would you like to learn more? Based on our experience acquired by helping customers deliver location-based solutions, we have identified seven essential factors for adding value using new geolocation solutions in any industry.

More on Geo IoT

What is Geo IoT? And what are the current applications of Geo IoT in the industry? Check it out here

You want a quick introduction to Geo IoT that summarizes its benefits and challenges? Watch the video “Geo IoT in 1 minute”

7 factors for getting the most value from your Geo IoT project: Read blog post

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