5 Months After the Hurricanes, the World Must Do More to Reconnect the Caribbean

2017 was one of the most active hurricane seasons in the Caribbean on record. Five months after the major storms Irma and Marie devastated parts of the Caribbean, there are still far too many people without access to the Internet and everything it offers. In our view, this is unacceptable. Today we published a snapshot of the current situation from the region in a new document, Report from the Field: Post-Hurricane Connectivity in the Caribbean.

The international response to this natural disaster has been mixed at best, and while several entities reached out to the region, a number of challenges impeded smooth and rapid assistance, such as lack of coordination. In some instances, the response from authorities has been either slow or insufficient, or both. The current reality that parts of the Caribbean are still without Internet connectivity this long after the hurricanes wrought their damage is a clear indication that the world’s response to this disaster has fallen short. The robustness of the telecommunications’ infrastructures in certain countries, which form the basis for Internet services, can also be questioned.

The world has the resources to do more.

We ask governments, businesses, educational institutions, NGOs and others, both in the region and around the world, to join together with renewed determination and commitment to reconnect the Caribbean – and to build a more resilient infrastructure that will help the region recover more quickly from the next round of hurricanes.

We believe that the reaction from governments should not be limited by political differences or formal barriers. People’s lives, pains and opportunities demand immediate action and all actors must work together to ensure that the response in future cases is timely and appropriate. It is simply unacceptable that so many people are still without both Internet access and electricity. It’s time to refocus and reaffirm our collective commitment to the Caribbean region.

The Internet Society will lead by example by doing the following:

  1. Partnering with entities that are looking how to enhance telecommunications and internet infrastructure resiliency. As part of this the Internet Society has been accepted as a member of the Commission for Caribbean Network Resilience charted by the CTU. Based on my telecom and Internet policy expertise, I will be joining as our representative.
  2. Partnering with Caribbean organizations focused on telecom infrastructure. In particular we look forward to working with CANTO’s Natural Disaster Committee.
  3. Developing a Disaster Relief Fund as part of our Beyond The Net funding program. This new program will enable Internet Society Chapters in affected regions after a natural disaster to apply for funds for projects that restore Internet connectivity. We will be announcing more information during the weeks ahead.
  4. Engaging our community in this effort. We will ask our Chapters, Organizational Members and individual members to join with us to make this a reality.

I will be attending the CANTO Annual General Meeting next week (4-6 February 2018) in Trinidad & Tobago where I look forward to discussing these ideas with many attendees.

At the Internet Society, we believe that the economic, social, education and communication opportunities made possible by the Internet are critical to our society today. We believe that Internet outages, either by natural disasters or government shutdowns, harm the people in the region and connectivity must be restored as soon as possible. Beyond that, Internet infrastructure must be made as resilient as possible to stand up as much as possible to these kinds of events.

We look forward to working with our members and partners to bring about a reconnected and more resilient Caribbean region. We are planning several activities over the next few months and will be posting updates and more information to this page:

https://www.internetsociety.org/reconnect-the-caribbean/

Please do share our new report and do all you can to help #ReconnectTheCaribbean.


Image credit:  © Commonwealth Secretariat on Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0

The post 5 Months After the Hurricanes, the World Must Do More to Reconnect the Caribbean appeared first on Internet Society.

Internet Society

Using AI to Help the World Thrive

Andrew Winston

Winston is founder of Winston Eco-Strategies and an adviser to multinationals on how they can navigate humanity’s biggest challenges and profit from solving them. He is the coauthor of the international bestseller Green to Gold and, more recently, the author of the popular book The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World. He tweets @andrewwinston.

What is the purpose of artificial intelligence?

The hype about AI, with its massive potential to disrupt business and society, is likely true. AI could make business radically more efficient and answer questions we didn’t even know we had. Of course, it may also destroy millions of jobs as machines get better than humans at everything from driving trucks to analyzing CT scans.

But focusing for the moment on the upside, it’s worth asking: Could AI help humanity solve its biggest problems?

Consider the challenges in front of humankind. We need to build a thriving economy and world for what the United Nations predicts will be 9.8 billion people by 2050. And we must do it without overwhelming our natural resources or making our climate uninhabitable. We’ll need dramatic changes in how the world works — deep shifts in energy, transportation, buildings, manufacturing, food and agriculture, and much more. We need to answer questions such as:

  • What’s the best, most economic path to a low-carbon economy?
  • How do we feed 9 billion or 10 billion people on a planet with a fixed amount of arable land?
  • How can we best move billions of people around crowded cities to keep those cities functioning, while using the least fuel possible?
  • How do we manage an electric grid with huge amounts of intermittent renewable power and billions of smart devices and electric vehicles plugged in?
  • How can our economic and political systems enhance well-being for all and reduce inequality?

We may need some serious help answering these kinds of questions. It’s quite possible that we’ve created complex, systemic problems that exceed our human capacity to solve them. In other words, AI may not just be nice to have; we may need it.

Some companies, particularly the tech giants, are recognizing this reality. They’re looking to AI as a tool for solving environmental and social problems.

For example, Google asked its DeepMind AI to examine the “complex, nonlinear” problem of how it uses energy in Google’s data centers (and this is no small issue: just in the United States, the tech sector’s data centers use 70 billion kilowatt hours of electricity at a cost of $ 7 billion per year). Google’s AI was able to slash energy use for cooling by an impressive 40%, saving significant money and carbon emissions.

In 2014, IBM launched a 10-year, $ 100 million project to use its Watson cognitive computing system to help Africa solve business and social challenges. The company is also leveraging AI to forecast solar and wind availability for power generation.

Enter Microsoft’s $ 50 Million “AI for Earth” Program

But perhaps most intriguing is the initiative that Microsoft recently launched — its own big play for leadership in the realm of “using AI to save the world.” In December, the company announced an expanded commitment of $ 50 million to, as Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post, “put artificial intelligence technology in the hands of individuals and organizations who are working to protect our planet.” Smith pointed out that humanity is collecting a vast amount of data on the state of the planet. We need help, he wrote, to “convert it into actionable intelligence.”

The program, dubbed AI for Earth, is finding and funding innovators who are making progress in four critical areas — climate change, water, agriculture, and biodiversity. Microsoft’s first grantees, 35 teams from around the world, are impressive. The AI pioneers include a group in Italy using images of snow in mountains to better predict snow melt and thus water availability; the Jane Goodall Institute, which is helping “identify chimpanzee habitat connectivity and conservation priorities in Africa”; teams at Yale and Cornell using AI and data to understand crop health and improve yields; and a crowdsourced program, iNaturalist, that combines both “citizen-scientist” data with trained scientist input on biodiversity.

Microsoft will accelerate progress by providing seed money, intellectual support (in the form of a multifunctional team of AI and sustainability experts), and technology aid through its cloud computing resources. The AI for Earth program will also identify the initiatives that have the most promise and offer even more aid.

But the goal is more than creating some isolated success stories — it’s about being a catalyst for greater change. The stated mission of Microsoft’s AI efforts is “to empower every person and organization to thrive in a resource-constrained world.”

Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, tells me that with AI for Earth, “we want to light up the ecosystem — we want the market to explode.” He imagines that once a team has created tools for, say, developing high-resolution maps of farmland from satellite imagery, other teams can build on it. They might ask different questions than the initial group, focusing on a different crop. Or look at a completely different problem outside of agriculture that could benefit from the same AI approach.

It’s a great idea. But a critical component of this “explosion of ideas” plan is making some capabilities part of a publicly available platform. So I have to wonder, what’s in it for Microsoft?

Business Payoffs for Being a Leader in Solving the World’s Problems

I see a few primary business benefits.

First, the initiative may help Microsoft attract and retain the best people. The competition for AI talent is intense and the tech giants are paying big bucks. Bernard says that when Microsoft posted some AI for Earth positions, some of the company’s top AI people jumped at the opportunity. There’s a clear trend, especially among millennials, for people to want more purpose in their jobs. Working on big, global environmental challenges is meaningful.

Second, the company can drive revenues for its cloud services. Digitizing the world, which we seem committed to doing, will require lots of data, servers, and software. Putting Microsoft in the middle of that whirlwind is good for business.

Third, the company could yield some related, but harder to measure, intangible benefits. Working on big issues and connecting to cool startups raises the company’s profile and keeps the 40-plus-year-old brand (I know, hard to believe) relevant and modern.

So, this whole movement will be good for humanity and benefit Microsoft (and other tech companies). And that’s more than OK. In fact, it’s critical to the success of the program. We need a large flow of ideas, capital, and talent to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Making it profitable to use AI in the service of humanity will attract more resources to the cause. Again, it’s likely that we need AI. Let’s just hope AI continues to need us.


MIT Sloan Management Review

World Leading Premium Automobile Manufacturer Selects PTC PLM Solution and ThingWorx Navigate

World Leading Premium Automobile Manufacturer Selects PTC PLM Solution and ThingWorx Navigate

World Leading Premium Automobile Manufacturer Selects PTC PLM Solution and ThingWorx Navigate

Windchill to Serve as Digitization Backbone for Global Vehicle Production.

PTC today announced the BMW Group has selected the PTC Windchill® solution as its PLM backbone for production and sourcing bill-of-material (BOM).

Windchill will be the enabler for globally configuring and releasing cars to production. The award-winning PLM solution will support BMW Group in improving efficiency and achieving a leaner global production planning process. In addition, BMW Group has selected the ThingWorx® Navigate™ role-based solution for fast and easy ecosystem access to product data. Both solutions are being obtained through the subscription licensing model.

BMW Group will leverage robust Windchill capabilities in configuring large and complex vehicle structure data to achieve its goal of producing vehicles at mass scale globally, while retaining greater flexibility and higher quality. ThingWorx Navigate supports concurrent production planning, enabling BMW Group to shorten overall time to market.

Windchill is a robust, end-to-end PLM solution that integrates core PLM functionality with the ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform from PTC and the ThingWorx Navigate role-based applications. ThingWorx Navigate enables organizations to dramatically increase productivity and collaboration by radically simplifying data access. It enables users to access accurate product data without complex user experience. ThingWorx Navigate supports concurrent production planning, enabling users to shorten the product development cycle and overall time to market.

Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC, said:

“We are pleased that BMW Group has selected Windchill and ThingWorx Navigate to support its digitization journey. We take pride in helping BMW Group to improve efficiency in the planning and production of their world-class vehicles.”

The post World Leading Premium Automobile Manufacturer Selects PTC PLM Solution and ThingWorx Navigate appeared first on IoT Business News.

IoT Business News

Connecting the World One Car at a Time

Connected vehicles are finally coming into their own and establishing themselves in the marketplace. Today, about 35 percent of new vehicles are connected to the internet. They’re packed with sensor technologies that monitor driving, safety and vehicle health conditions. By 2020, enhancements for internet-enabled vehicles are expected to be among the top downloads from app stores. It’s an exciting, emerging space to provide new value, transform the consumer’s experience and open new revenue streams.

But what about the hundreds of millions of vehicles that will remain on roads for a long while yet that are not connected? The last serious estimate of the number of cars on the roads globally was 1.2 billion. It’s also estimated that there will be a quarter-billion connected cars on the roads by 2020. That still leaves about a billion cars that are not connected.

Making connections happen

Figuring out how to bring connected vehicle services to this vast population of disconnected vehicles presents an exciting opportunity. AirWire Technologies, leveraging its Connected Car OBD Solution, is working with IBM to implement its connected car and IoT services platform powered by IBM Watson IoT for Automotive. AirWire’s connected car cloud services work in conjunction with its proprietary Connected Car OBD solution

The AirWire connected car device attaches to the vehicle’s OBD II port. This port is available on any car newer than 1996. The device provides uninterrupted connectivity through an advanced 4G LTE network. It seamlessly uploads important vehicle data to the cloud for analysis, enabling apps and services for the consumer’s smartphones and other mobile devices. The device also acts as a hotspot, enabling wireless Internet inside the vehicle without having to stream data over Bluetooth through the user’s smartphone.

The AirWire connected car device attaches to the vehicle’s OBD II port. This port is available on any car newer than 1996.

Vehicle owners can analyze vehicle performance, driving efficiency, driving safety and vehicle health information using AirWire’s connected car cloud services. The AirWire cloud services model enables our operator partners to enter the vehicle IoT space seamlessly, quickly and with minimal network effort. Airwire’s device and the Personal Assistant App for connected cars and IoT services on IBM Watson platform is a voice-activated personal assistant in vehicles. It is AI-enabled as it recognizes previous travel patterns and asks relevant questions to help drivers with a variety of needs from routing to commerce to understanding the surrounding environment.

With AirWire, vehicle owners can analyze vehicle performance, driving efficiency, driving safety and vehicle health information using AirWire’s connected car cloud services.
The AirConnect app acts as a personal assistant to drivers, and allows them to use voice commands to communicate with their vehicles.

IoT for Automotive

IBM’s IoT for Automotive provides a purpose-built, connected vehicle solutions that is designed to handle high-volume, high-velocity data consumption and analytics that the automotive industry demands. It’s well suited to pair with AirWire’s offering to give drivers comprehensive information about their vehicles. IoT for Automotive also bundles services such as driver behavior analytics to score and provide feedback on driving performance.

“Our partnership with AirWire enables the data collected through their in-vehicle connected car device into a cloud platform harnessing the power of cognitive computing to connected vehicles, sensors and systems that comprise the automotive IoT space, helping transform how vehicles are owned, operated and maintained,” said IBM executive, Dibbe Edwards, vice president for Watson IoT Connected Products.

“AirWire is excited to partner with IBM, an established leader in the IoT space, enabling our connected car and IoT services platform through IBM’s innovative IoT for Automotive solution to connect vehicles over any network in any part of the world. All of our operator partners, automobile OEMs and vehicle owners will benefit from the power of IBM IoT for Automotive to help them connect vehicles in the IoT space,” said AirWire CEO, Debashis Bagchi.

Global pilots starting soon

AirWire is initiating pilots globally of the AirWire connected car and IoT services platform powered by IBM Watson IoT for Automotive. The initial targeted pilots will be in India, Philippines and the U.S. A worldwide launch follows soon thereafter. The AirWire Connected Car app “AirConnect” acts as a personal assistant to the drivers and allows them to communicate with their vehicles using voice commands.

Look for availability of the app soon in both IoS and Android versions. Find more information about Airwire please visit their site. To find out more about IBM’s IoT for Automotive, visit our site as well.

The post Connecting the World One Car at a Time appeared first on Internet of Things blog.

Internet of Things blog

Interact with the virtual world in a whole new way

As reported by the Creative Applications Network, “Tangibles Worlds explores the effects of tactile experience as a catalyst for full immersion in VR.”

The project by Stella Speziali takes the form of three separate boxes, along with an Oculus Rift headset. When a hand is placed in one of these boxes, the user is virtually transported to another dimension of sight and sound, controlled by IR distance sensors, flex sensors, capacitive wire, and several other devices interfaced with an Arduino Mega.

Each box contains an IR distance sensor, which detects when a hand is inserted and display the virtual world attributed to the box. This new virtual world surrounds the user. A sensor is placed on each wall within the boxes, this sensor recognizes the hand and activates an animation inside the virtual world. I tried to map the sensors in the virtual universe so that a little clue is given to the user and will lead him to trigger the animations.

The idea behind this installation is to go beyond “traditional” VR controllers for entirely new level of interaction. The video seen here gives an excellent preview of the strangeness of this type of interface, though using it with a headset and sensors would likely be an altogether different experience!

Arduino Blog