IoT second most important IT priority for 2018, says Wi-SUN Alliance

IoT is second most important IT priority for 2018, says Wi-SUN Alliance

Implementing IoT comes second only to tackling security  on the 2018 To Do list, according to a new survey from Wi-SUN Alliance.

Companies that have implemented IoT are overwhelmingly positive about the benefits they’ve achieved, and they’re keen to build on these foundations in 2018, according to a survey of 350 organizations in the UK, US, Denmark and Sweden, conducted on behalf of the Wi-SUN Alliance, a global industry association that focuses on connectivity.

No wonder, then, that enabling IoT comes high on the list of IT priorities for 2018; in second place, in fact, just after tackling security. When it comes to IoT benefits, over half of respondents (54 percent) say they have experienced improved business efficiency; 49 percent point to improved customer experience and 48 percent highlight better collaboration.

Read more: Vodafone IoT Barometer: Large global IoT projects doubled last year

IoT rises on priorities list

The Wi-SUN Alliance’s report, The Rise of the Internet of Things, finds that half of organisations investing in IoT initiatives already have a fully implemented strategy in place, while more than a third (36 percent) have a partially implemented strategy. Companies are most advanced in the oil & gas industry, with 75 percent having a fully implemented strategy, followed by technology (59 percent) and energy and utilities (57 percent).

The research identifies a number of key drivers for IoT implementation. Around half (47 percent) said it would improve “network intelligence and connectivity for citizen safety and quality of life”, while 42 percent said a key driver is “creating business efficiencies” and 41 percent cited “improving reliability of systems and services”.

Read more: IoT projects driving IT budget decisions, 451 Research finds

Not entirely rosy

Still, not everything in the IoT garden is rosy. While respondents report that enabling IoT is the second most important IT priority for the next 12 months, just behind improving security, almost all – a massive 90 percent – of those with an IoT plan at various stages of implementation have struggled to implement this, and over a third (36 percent) said they have found it “very or extremely difficult”.

Respondents highlight security as a barrier to IoT adoption. Fifty-nine percent of them cite security concerns, with the US (65 percent) and UK (64 percent) more concerned than those in Denmark or Sweden. Almost one in three (32 percent) see both funding and a lack of commitment from leadership, as barriers, while 30 percent view leadership’s lack of understanding of the benefits of IoT as a challenge.

The report also looks at the technical challenges in delivering IoT. Here, respondents identified a wide range of issues. Sixty-three percent mentioned security and safety; 46 percent data management; 41 percent network configuration, 39 percent recruiting IoT talent and 39 percent Wi-Fi connectivity.

Read more: Six out of ten IoT projects fail at trial stage, says survey

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Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

According to a new research report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, around 5.9 million people in Europe were using connected care solutions at the end of 2016.

The figure refers to users of traditional telecare, next-generation telecare and telehealth solutions in the EU28+2 countries.

Until 2022, Berg Insight forecasts that the number of connected care users will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent to reach 16.5 million.

Traditional telecare is currently the largest and most mature of the three market segments, but the next-generation telecare and telehealth market segments are expected to have a higher growth rate while traditional telecare is being phased out. Berg Insight expects that traditional telecare will be overtaken by next-generation telecare as the largest segment of the connected care market with a forecasted 8.1 million users in 2022. However, traditional telecare will follow with 6.2 million us ers and telehealth with 4.0 million users at the end of the forecast period.

The European connected care industry is facing major changes that will reshape the competitive environment for solution vendors and service providers during the coming years. One of the main developments is the digitalization of telephone networks that already has started in several countries. Massive replacements of telecare equipment will be needed due to that analogue devices no longer function reliably when the PSTN infrastructure is modernized. At the same time, the market is opening up to new types of solutions that can advance the delivery of care to the next level. This includes next-generation telecare systems that support functionalities such as remote visits and video communication.

chart: connected care systems in use Europe 2016-2022Anders Frick, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight, said:

“There is a strong need for solutions that enable social care and healthcare services to be delivered more cost-efficiently without compromising the quality of care”.

He adds that this need will only grow stronger in the future as the European population structure ages and the prevalence of chronic diseases increases.

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DDoS attacks almost double with IoT as target, says Corero

DDoS attacks almost double with IoT as target, says Corero

A 91 per cent increase is recorded in DDoS activity as criminals seize on unsecured IoT devices to launch attacks, according to Corero. 

Businesses are facing a surge in DDoS attacks with the number of episodes almost doubling over the last year, according to figures released by Corero.

The IT security company claims that organizations encountered an average of 237 DDoS attack attempts per month during the third quarter of 2017 – equivalent to eight DDoS attack attempts every day.

The data, based on DDoS attack attempts against Corero customers, represents a 35 per cent increase in monthly attack attempts compared to the previous quarter (Q2 2017).

It said the increase in frequency is because of the growing availability of DDoS-for-hire services, and the proliferation of unsecured IoT devices.

Ashley Stephenson, CEO at Corero, said that the growing availability of DDoS-for-hire services is causing an “explosion of attacks, and puts anyone and everyone into the crosshairs”.

Read more: New botnet could take down the internet in “cyberstorm”, says Check Point

Low barrier to entry

“These services have lowered the barriers to entry in terms of both technical competence and price, allowing anyone to systematically attack and attempt to take down a company for less than $ 100,” he said.

“Alongside this trend is an attacker arms race to infect vulnerable devices, effectively thwarting other attackers from commandeering the device.  Cyber criminals try to harness more and more Internet-connected devices to build ever larger botnets.  The potential scale and power of IoT botnets has the ability to create Internet chaos and dire results for target victims.”

According to the company’s latest DDoS Trends and Analysis report, hackers are using sophisticated, quick-fire, multi-vector attacks against organizational security. It said that a fifth of the DDoS attack attempts recorded during the second quarter of 2017 used multiple attack vectors. These attacks utilize several techniques in the hope that one, or the combination of a few, can penetrate the target network’s security defences.

“Despite the industry fascination with large scale, internet-crippling DDoS attacks,” said Stephenson, “the reality is that they don’t represent the biggest threat posed by DDoS attacks today.”

“Often lasting just a few minutes, these quick-fire attacks evade security teams and can sometimes be accompanied by malware and other data exfiltration threats. We believe they are often used in conjunction with other cyber attacks, and organisations that miss them do so at their peril.”

Read more: Connected transportation is lucrative but vulnerable, says ABI Research

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IoT edge deserves first-class treatment, says Nutanix

IoT edge locations deserve first-class treatment, says Nutanix

IoT edge applications will need a data pipeline that stretches all the way from devices to the data center and treats devices as ‘first-class nodes’, say Nutanix executives.

The cloud essentially exists as the underpinning foundation for the IoT – and the connection channels that extend from the back end outwards to its ‘edge’ are an increasing focus for the enterprise tech industry and its customers.

The world’s top three cloud providers (Google, AWS and Microsoft), for example, have somewhere close to 3.5 million servers in their datacenters. This massive surface area is a natural hunting ground for Nutanix, a company that previously describe itself as a hyperconvergence specialist, but now prefers to present itself as a provider of a cloud operating system (OS).

Either way, Nutanix makes software that allows customers to use, view and manage, migrate, monitor and optimize their use of cloud computing ‘instances’. This refers to those chunks of cloud resource that customers sign up for to provide them with data storage, core processing and analytics.

Read more: Nutanix maps out its edgy IoT cloud vision

Back-end base, front-end view

Although focused on the back-end infrastructure aspects of cloud services, Nutanix also has its eye on the surface layers of computing, including the workloads kicked off by the IoT and the role of so-called edge computing.

Nutanix executives explain that the company focuses on IoT use cases that marry real-time edge intelligence with core cloud computing. Customers can use Nutanix as an ‘intelligent edge’ for IoT applications based on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), by deploying TensorFlow (an open source library for machine intelligence) for edge processing, while training machine learning models and running analytics on the processed metadata in GCP.

But, they add, edge applications will need a data pipeline that stretches all the way from devices to the data center, as processing is now shared across a wider transept. What this means for software application developers is that functions (in terms of actual compute execution tasks) may now be more ephemeral (typically existing as smaller scale, discrete microservices) and more flexible in nature.

Read more: Nutanix: as big as a datacenter, as small as a drone

First-class nodes

Satyam Vaghani, vice president of technology at Nutanix says that his firm’s Prism management interface has been engineered to appreciate the existence of the IoT itself. Because of this, it is able to treat ‘edge’ locations as ‘first-class nodes’, so that they can play an appropriately important role in total networks.

Vaghani clarifies his firm’s understanding of the current trend to build explicit distributed systems, saying that in this distributed architecture world, we know that edge applications are typically very vertical-specific and engineered to serve specific use cases. On paper at least, this could make them very difficult to replicate and deploy for additional, but different use cases.

In terms of product updates, Nutanix now says it will enhance support for applications using large unstructured datasets. This could typically be areas such as big data analytics, data warehouse applications and large-scale IoT deployments. To optimize delivery of these applications, Nutanix will be extending its data management capabilities to include object-based storage, which application developers can use as a native service.

Complex stuff? Yes it is, that’s Nutanix… but the company is seeking to provide a simpler means of managing clouds tasked with IoT workloads through its Prism management interface. Nobody said architecting for para-virtualized microservices running on hyperconverged server nodes for edge IoT deployments was going to be easy now, did they?

Read more: Are we edging closer to IoT Edge Computing?

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American public fears AI’s impact on employment, says Syzygy

American public fears AI's impact on employment

Over two-thirds (70 percent) of the American public fear artificial intelligence’s impact on employment, reveals a new study from digital company Syzygy.

The impact of AI on our day-to-day lives has been a hot topic in IoT news of late. The wider public are aware that AI, robotics and automation are combining to shake up the world in which we live.

These are justifiable concerns that tabloid newspapers love to feed, with proclamations that the rise of robotics signals the end of humanity – especially when the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk weigh in on the subject.

It’s important, therefore, that a more considered discourse takes place, which measures and responds to public concerns and questions, as well as taking steps to protect the people and economies affected by emerging technologies, when necessary.

A report from digital agency Syzygy, led by Dr Paul Marsden, has gauged the prevailing attitudes of the American people, in a paper titled Sex, Lies and A.I.

In an attempt to clarify a term that marketing has rendered virtually meaningless, Syzygy defines AI simply as, “technology that behaves intelligently, using skills we normally associate with human intelligence, including the ability to hold conversations, learn, reason and solve problems”.

Read more: Opinion divided on impact of AI on jobs market, says BT survey

AI hopes & fears

Most of the participants appear open to AI playing a greater role in their lives, particularly in how they interact with businesses and brands – with over two thirds accepting the idea. However, there is widespread scepticism about the benefits of AI technology, with 88 percent of Americans believing that AI in marketing should be regulated by an ethical code of conduct.

The report concludes that businesses employing automated solutions must communicate the practical and personal benefits of AI, stressing how it will make people’s lives easier.

This comes with the caveat that we want to know when an AI is being used. Eighty-seven percent of the American public supports a new ‘Blade Runner law’ that makes it illegal for AI applications such as social media bots, chatbots and virtual assistants to conceal their identity and pose as humans.

This is despite the fact that we generally prefer AIs to reflect human emotions and appearances. ‘Conscientiousness’ was elected the most important personality trait for an AI application, conveying the sense of dependability, dutifulness and efficiency.

According to the report, the emotions evoked by AI are mixed – the most dominant being: ‘interested’ (45 percent), ‘concerned’ (41 percent) and ‘skeptical’ (40 percent). Many people (52 percent) in the US believe AI technology is already influencing their lives; 41 percent remember seeing AI in the media in the last month; and 55 percent use a virtual assistant such as Siri or Alexa.

AI's impact on employment

US public’s greatest AI fears (credit: SYZYGY)

Read more: Lost jobs but happier customers — insurance embraces AI and IoT

AI’s impact on employment

While participants, generally hope that AI will make their lives easier, there are fears that job automation will have repercussions for employment in the US (with 30% labelling it as their top fear). Those surveyed also predict that over one-third (36 percent) of their current job duties could be replace by AI in the next five years.

The report also revealed strong support for ‘LAWS’ – lethal autonomous weapon systems, popularly referred to as ‘killer robots’.

“Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that this AI technology should be permitted in armed conflict. This US sentiment stands in stark contrast to the call for an outright ban on these weapons by Elon Musk, Neuralink CEO and chairman of OpenAI, along with over 100 leaders in AI research.”

The American public seems generally open to the adoption of AI in their day to day lives. However, the report highlights the desire for greater regulation and transparency in how artificial intelligence is employed by businesses, particularly when it comes to the potential for AI to mislead and manipulate. This feeling of helplessness is epitomised in the participants fears around AI’s impact on employment.

Read more: Research reveals potential dangers of ‘prejudiced’ AI

The ethical challenges of AI

Even when we accept emerging AI technologies, difficult ethical questions remain. The survey raises a moral conundrum that has been increasingly debated since the advent of autonomous cars: how should the AI react in the split seconds before an accident? Syzygy’s report presents the dilemma like this:

“The autonomous vehicle rounds a corner and detects a crosswalk full of children. It brakes, but your lane is unexpectedly full of sand from a recent rock slide. It can’t get traction. Your car does some calculations: If it continues braking, it will almost certainly kill five children. The only way to save them is to steer you off the cliff to your certain death. What should the car do?”

It’s a difficult moral position and any answer will need to be pre-programmed into the vehicle. Mercedes-Benz execute Chistoph von Hugo revealed to Fortune Magazine last year that it’s autonomous cars will save the car’s drivers and passengers, even at the expense of pedestrians’ lives.

Given that only 30 percent of Americans would travel in a car programmed to minimize fatalities, even at the expense of its own passengers, it’s a seemingly impossible marketing situation. Yet these are the sorts of questions that businesses must answer if they are to provide the clarity the American public is demanding and reassure them that a future with AI is one that stands to benefit humankind more widely than they fear.

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