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Security as an Enabler in a World of Increased Manufacturing Vulnerability

CF imageTShakibManufacturing is entering a new digital era, with more opportunity for mass customization, reduced downtime, and increased innovation. Manufacturers are capturing the value of the Internet of Everything (IoE) by becoming digital. Many are taking their first steps in this transformation by adopting Ethernet to connect plant floor devices to better manage operation and supply chain workflows, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. This digital transformation, however, creates greater exposure to cyberattacks. As a result, mitigating security threats has never been more important. Read More »

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Kick-off: A Blog Series about Public Safety and Security for Government Agencies

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is changing the game for public safety. Through connected smart technologies, public safety agencies can continue to drive the needle forward as they serve their growing populations even as budgets remain constrained. Today’s deputies and officers are accustomed to a mobile world and expect these technologies to be commonplace on the job to improve situational awareness for law enforcement and first responders.

First responders pioneered robust and reliable communications. Police and fire radio systems remain workhorses of the professions. But IoE promises new levels of connectivity for personnel in the field, synthesizing real-time data for swift situational awareness. Through the variety of Cisco collaboration and wireless solutions, public safety agencies can provide first responders with real-time information to improve their situational awareness and on-location effectiveness.

Smart technologies are a force multiplier for public safety agencies and unlock the power of collaboration to improve the safety of communities. Improved practices can knock down barriers in agencies and prevent wasted funds and man-hours. For example, Cisco Connected Justice allows courts, correctional leaders and other key decision makers to perform their duties regardless of location to improve the speed and safety of the courts process. Also, consider the transport of inmates from jails to courtrooms. With every hearing, there is a lengthy and expensive checklist of costs to get the inmate to and from the hearing safely and efficiently. Using on-site TelePresence, courtroom proceedings can be conducted on-site directly with inmates – vastly reducing flight risk and enhancing safety.

Today kicks off a series of blogs that will lead up to this year’s IACP Annual Conference in October where attendees will explore the powerful advantages smart technologies provide law enforcement agencies. Over the next few months, my colleagues and I will share stories about how agencies are improving the safety of communities, saving time, reallocating resources and cutting costs by using Cisco technologies. The next blog will feature the city of McAllen, TX where law enforcement is using Cisco TelePresence in its warrant process to accelerate the investigation process within the department and provide immediate access to judges with video adjudication moving forward.

Last month, I participated in a Public Safety panel to discuss how local government and law enforcement are using Cisco technologies to address the scope of environmental challenges sheriffs face. Explore insights from the panel here. You can also go to our website to learn more about Cisco’s solutions for public safety agencies. To learn more about Connected Justice from the users’ perspective, keep an eye out for Judge Patterson’s upcoming blog series this month that will explore technology in the courtroom. There is a lot happening around public safety and security. I look forward to continuing to share insights and agency success stories as we continue to adopt and evolve with new technologies.

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Security Is a Top Priority for Feds and Should Be Moving Forward

It’s no secret that security is top priority for the federal government. It seems like every week we are hearing about a new threat, hack, or breach that has hit an agency. In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about significant breaches that have resulted in both citizen and federal employee information being compromised.

Obviously, these kinds of attacks are putting agencies on alert. This is especially important as organizations continue to embrace new technologies and polices to improve operations and efficiency. As technology investments bring great new capabilities to government, it’s imperative that IT managers design security in from the very beginning.

I recently discussed this topic in an article published in Federal Times. The article explored how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) need cybersecurity protection. In addition to a projected $4.6 trillion in value for global public sector by 2022, the enhanced connectivity offered by IoE technologies also creates an increased need for network security. For example, while BYOD programs are tremendously valuable, these initiatives also create a larger surface area for potential attacks by adding devices to the networks.

With billions of devices expected become connected over the next five years, it’s important that agencies have a plan in place to address their security needs. In general, agencies should focus their efforts on creating a cybersecurity strategy that is visibility-driven, threat-focused and platform-based. As more individuals and devices need network access, having real-time visibility becomes even more critical to gaining insight on surrounding threats and identifying system vulnerabilities. Also, presuming the network has already been breached it can help agencies be more proactive their approach. And lastly, a platform-based approach will provide scalability and flexibility required to address a variety of threats and reduce complexity through centralized management.

The number of ways IoE can make our lives better and our organizations more efficient depends mainly on our ability to think of new ways to use the technology. If we can be confident in the security of IoE, we can be confident developing more applications for it. All organizations should be in a position to ask, “Now that I am confident with my protection, what new things can I develop to save money or time and delight my users?”

Take a look at the Federal Times article for more insights around IoE and cybersecurity, and check out this white paper to learn more about IoE’s impact on public sector.

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Analytics, Separating Facts from Myth

If you ever want to start an argument, simply ask a group of music fans to name the most influential act of the Rock era. Then step back and watch the sparks fly!

As a musician myself, popular music, its origins and evolution have long been a topic of interest and passionate debate among my circle of friends. Everyone has an opinion and even the shyest among us has no problem wading in to this discussion. Sometimes it’s a matter of personal taste, but more often than not I’ve noticed that we tend to argue in favor of the acts we loved in our formative years.

People who came of age in the 1950s identify acts like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry as innovators. For those who grew up in the 1960s you can expect responses to include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. From the 1970s, you’ll hear names like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac, amongst others. And the list goes on and on. Read More »

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We don’t need ‘The Rock’ to save the day, we just need to ‘Get Social’!

Mobile applications and sensors are commonly used to monitor traffic, health & wellness and incidents such as road traffic accidents.  But what about the threat of catastrophic disasters such as earthquakes where the loss of life can be unprecedented?

The sun drenched, Californian city of Pasadena is known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Football game.  It is also located near the infamous San Andreas Fault (SAF).  If you paid attention in geography class at school or if you’ve seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster, ‘San Andreas’  starring ‘The Rock’, you’ll know that this means the city is at risk from earthquakes.

The Rock

Can ‘The Rock’ save the day?

It is suspected that one day California will be hit by The ‘Big One’.  This is a hypothetical earthquake of a magnitude ~8 or greater that is expected to happen along the SAF. Such an earthquake will result in devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the fault in urban areas such as Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. No one knows when ‘The Big One’ will happen because scientists cannot predict earthquakes with any precision.  However, technology is providing them with data that in time will give Californian residents a fighting chance of survival.

Seismometers are highly sensitive instruments that detect seismic activity that occur before earthquakes strike. Unfortunately, due to their cost, the number of seismometers in California are limited.  The Southern California Seismic Network operates just 350 seismic stations and the Northern California Seismic Network has a further 412.

With the threat of ‘The Big One’ forever looming, The Caltec Institute in Pasedena embarked on a project to determine how they could provide a blanket of cheap Seismometers across the state.

Their answer? Smartphones! Yes, really!

Research conducted proved that accelerometers found in most smartphones are sensitive enough to detect large earthquakes.

Creating the ‘Community Seismic Network’ – Caltech is encouraging residents to opt-in to turn their smart phones into mobile seismometers by simply downloading an application called ‘Crowdshake’ onto their android device.

Caltec have said: “if only 1 percent of users in the area opted into the scheme, that few hundred seismometers would be augmented by several hundred thousand additional sensors giving sufficient intelligent processing”.

So how does it work?

Upon downloading the mobile application an algorithm executes in the background of the mobile device.  Algorithms are monitored and when seismic motion is detected by the accelerometer, a message is sent to a Cloud Fusion Center which includes the time, location, and estimated amplitude of the data that triggered the message.

Mobile seisomemetres

The benefit of the Community Seismic Network is huge.  A dense, city-wide seismic network could be used to detect earthquakes rapidly after they start and measure the strength of shaking accurately as it unfolds.

What would this mean to Californian residents? Well, it will enable immediate action to be taken to prevent damage, such as stopping trains and elevators, stabilizing the power grid, and deploying emergency teams.

This is an astounding example of the Internet of Everything! People, data, process and things coming together to save lives in real-time!

Whilst the application is currently a research prototype and not yet fully deployed for public use, Caltech anticipate that the capability of real-time early warning may convince users to download and install the application when it is readily available.

So quite simply, it pays to ‘get social’ especially on those days when ‘The Rock’ isn’t around the save the day!

Get-Social

 

Reference:

The Next Big One: Detecting Earthquakes and other Rare Events from Community-based Sensors.

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