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Cisco Positive Train Control: Enhancing End-to-End Rail Safety … and More

Positive Train Control (PTC) is one of many new safety measures mandated by the U.S. Federal Government to help prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments and other human-caused accidents. If warnings to slow down or to stop a train go unnoticed by an engineer, the locomotive’s onboard computer will automatically apply the brakes after a certain amount of time, with the intention to prevent a collision and potentially save lives.

Earlier this year in April, Cisco and Lilee Systems announced plans for the industry’s first end-to-end communications network for PTC with a proof-of-concept network, located in the San Francisco Bay area, to verify communications architecture. Today, this vision has become a reality that is ready for the market with Cisco Positive Train Control (PTC) 1.0.

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A Global Standard for Narrowband Power Line Communications

Steep increase in global demand for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Electric Vehicle charging, and Intelligent Street Lighting has spurred interest to implement communications for these Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) applications over currently installed assets.  Narrow Band Power Line Communication  (NB-PLC) addresses this need by providing a communication solution which operates over existing utility distribution networks.

IEEE 1901.2 Narrowband PLC: Final Steps to the Finish Line

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Driving to the goal of a global NB-PLC standard, Cisco is vigorously engaged in the development of   IEEE 1901.2 NarrowBand PLC.  IEEE 1901.2 adopts the latest generation PLC techniques and  provides full adaptation to the latest IETF enabling technologies for IPv6 based NANs (6LoWPAN, RPL, MPL, etc.). IEEE 1901.2 is further aligned with other important Smart Utility Network technologies such as IEEE 802.15.4g/e.  Multi service IP based NANs are thus a reality, able to seamlessly support a mixture of PHY/MAC technologies appropriate for specific deployments

The IEEE 1901.2 standard is in its final stages of development, with publishing of the finished document expected by the end of 2013.

HomePlug Netricity for Conformance and Interoperability Certification

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With the imminent arrival of the 1901.2 standard comes the need for a certification program to insure product conformance to the specification and interoperability between multiple vendor’s product offerings.  The HomePlug Powerline Alliance is rising to this challenge.  HomePlug’s Netricity program, with the full support of Cisco, is moving smartly ahead with development of a conformance and interoperability certification program for IEEE 1901.2 based devices.  Expect certification testing to begin 2014.

Cisco salutes the commitment and expertise of the entire 1901.2 and Netricity development teams. A global standard for interoperable NB-PLC will soon be a reality!

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The Rush Hour That Wasn’t So Rushed

Every morning, many of us have the same routine: the alarm goes off, we (reluctantly) get up and maybe hit the gym before showering and getting dressed. We gulp down a cup of coffee or bowl of cereal as we rush out the door to try and beat the traffic to work.

What if there was a better way? What if rush hour wasn’t so rushed? Picture leaving for work in your car one morning while it’s raining. As you begin your normal commute, a car half a mile ahead is involved in a fender bender due to the slick roads. Before the accident can snarl rush hour for everyone in the area, the connected network jumps into action. Safety systems on board the car involved in the accident automatically send alerts about airbag deployment so the network can pinpoint the reason for the delay and make an evaluation of the time it will take to clear the accident based on road assistance availability. Video surveillance allows 911 operators to quickly evaluate the seriousness of the situation – a two-car fender bender versus a multi-car pileup – and dispatch first responders or tow trucks accordingly.

As roadside help is on its way, the intelligent network synchronizes the traffic lights around the congested area to keep you and everyone else moving. Based on your new estimated time of arrival to the office, your calendar automatically updates, changing your first in-person meeting to a conference call via WebEx, instead, that you take from your cell phone in your car.

At the same time that you are rerouted around the accident scene, the transit authority automatically sends notifications through smartphone apps to riders citywide of delayed buses, offering alternate routes. But there is no rushing here – the transit authority talks to the alarm clocks, too, updating them to ring five minutes earlier. What if, on top of all those transit updates, your connected coffee machine updates, too, so that it makes you that cup of Joe as soon as the alarm goes off at the new time? That’s something I’d certainly appreciate!

The Internet of Everything is making these things possible. It is changing every aspect of our lives today – even the little things that we might not think about. Notifying commuters of traffic delays and offering alternate options can improve customer experiences and increase ridership. That can, in turn, reduce the number of cars stuck in traffic, improving the quality of the environment and even people’s health. People, process, data and things work together thanks to a unified framework approach, creating value for individuals and businesses alike.

Explore the interactive image above to learn more about the changes that IoE is making possible. And share your thoughts! Send me a tweet: @JimGrubb.

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Internet of Things World Forum – Why, What, Who and How

Last month, the Internet of Things was added to Oxford Dictionaries Online.  IoT was added along with such august terms as BYOD, Bitcoin, and even selfie.  While the ODO isn’t the OED – it’s the younger, hipper sibling focused on current English and modern meanings – this addition is just one more datapoint on the growing awareness around the coming Internet of Things.

Internet of things has been around as a term since about 1999, however, it’s recent popularity is due to a few emerging trends.  In the consumer space there’s been wide adoption of connected products such as smart thermostats and intelligent pedometers.  In the enterprise (and here I am using enterprise to represent many types of larger organizations – including local and national governments, non-profits, academia and companies) we’ve seen the rise of BYOD which you could argue is the first mainstream IoT form-factor. Read More »

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Have a Problem? Ask an Expert (Even if He, She, or It Is 3,000 Miles Away)

Your smart sprinkler system is happily pumping water to your lawn in highly efficient sprays that are “aware” of the soil, the climate, the weather, the time of day, and even whether or not your kids are playing in the backyard on a Saturday. Suddenly, a faulty valve bursts and an uncontrolled geyser erupts. One part of your property is about to be ruined by flooding while the rest of the lawn is left to yellow in the sun.

You and your family are miles away, yet you know all about it.  Sensors throughout the system alert your smartphone. At the same time, machine-to-machine signals shut down the pumps, and an expert from the sprinkler company is dispatched to your home with the precise replacement part and the real-time knowledge to fix the system.

It’s a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) may soon funnel precise information in real time to the people — or machines — that need it most. Many of these “remote expert“ technologies are either already here or on the horizon.

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