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Education Embraces the Mobility Excitement

Let’s examine and consider mobile devices in education. Students need to become more tech savvy to compete in today’s economy, and mobile devices offer supplemental learning and a new style to learn. A recent report noted that educators see great potential in mobile technology for transforming learning. The most commonly expected and desired benefits are that mobile technology is engaging for students (62 percent of respondents) and that the devices can be used to personalize instruction to meet the needs of different students. There is no question educational institutions need to seize this mobility trend for better learning and to ensure our next generation is tech savvy.

Does your child’s school provide mobile devices for their learning or does it require your child to bring their own mobile device? I know in my case, my son’s school has a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. Yet some schools, whether higher education or primary or secondary schools, have made the decision to buy mobile devices for their student population. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the United States, headed down this path to offer all students and teachers Apple iPads — only to find some challenges like unseen costs, secure access issues, and unclear policies. Others, like Bucks County School District in Pennsylvania and McAllen School District in Texas, have enjoyed the benefits of providing mobile device usage (whether BYOD or school sanctioned) in a simple and secure manner in the education environment by leveraging Cisco infrastructure.

The use of mobile devices by young children, whether it be for education or entertainment, has soared. A new report from Common Sense Media, a child-advocacy group based in San Francisco, found that 17 percent of children 8 and younger use mobile devices daily, up from 8 percent in 2011. I am guessing that education and entertainment will continue to drive this number each year. What is your opinion on schools using mobile devices? Is this the shiny new penny to improve our education systems? And as an IT professional, what is your experience with the mobility and secure access considerations?

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Deep Dive: Mobility Services APIs (with Sample Code!)

Last week, my colleague Rajiv walked you through an overview of how our Mobility Services API now supports REST based APIs. As a developer for the Mobility Services Engine (MSE) team, I am very excited about this update because it means that it will be easier for developers to create apps using the MS-API, which hopefully means that more and more organizations will be able to take advantage of the location-based services and functionalities of the MSE. I’m going use this blog to walk you through some of the more technical aspects of the change.

The Basics

The REST API is now widely used in the field of API based web applications. The REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. It is an architecture that is based on set of six rules, and APIs that support REST follow all those rules, making them RESTful.

Compared to SOAP, REST has better performance, scalability, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability, and reliability. For secured REST API transactions, HTTPS is recommended.

RESTful Mobility Services API

7.5 applications, including features from the Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution such as Browser Engage and CMX Analytics, are now supporting REST APIs in addition to the existing SOAP APIs previous releases (backward compatibility).

CMX utilizes the basic authentication scheme to authenticate each REST API request. It utilizes the Authorization header in the HTTP packet. The Authorization header is composed as follows:

– Username and password are combined into a string “username:password”.
– The resulting string literal is then encoded using Base64.
– The authorization method, a space and the string “Basic” is then put before the encoded string.

The API credentials can be accessed from Prime Infrastructure (PI), which manages CMX (page is located under Mobility Services > Specific MSE > System > Users).

As Rajiv mentioned last week, the Mobility Services REST APIs can be grouped in the following way:

–          MAP APIs

–          Real time location APIs

–          Location history APIs

–          Notification APIs

Let’s break them down with use cases to get a better picture of when you’d use which. Read More »

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Advanced Use of CMX at the Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona

The inaugural IoT World Forum closed today in Barcelona with the overall sentiment being that it was a resounding success.

One of the key messages that emerged was the need for everyone to work together and for the customer solutions of the future to be drive by business outcomes or capabilities, rather than by what it takes to deliver them or the underlying components or technologies. Increasingly business leaders are making their purchasing decisions by prioritizing business value and business relevance.

Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences was highlighted at the World Forum and is seen as one of the key pieces of the overall IoT jigsaw.

Some very interesting use cases for CMX and its capabilities were showcased this week. In a previous post I spoke about the Smart City Tour and how CMX is used in an innovative manner within the city and how brands can take advantage of CMX to engage their customers in creative ways. In another post I spoke about how CMX was used within the IoT venue and the analytics that were available for all to see on the event jumbotron.

There are a few more (yes, even more–with CMX, the possibilities of deployment are endless) ways that we wove CMX into the IoT experience that’d I’d like to share with you in my final IoT World Forum string of posts.

One of these was using CMX within the City of Barcelona as a key dashboard of information for the municipal authorities. Here is a view of the Born area part of the old Gothic section of the city and a major tourist destination in the city. We can see here that over 6600 devices where detected with an average dwell time of 8 minutes.

iotwf11 Read More »

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Cisco CMX Solution In Action at the Internet of Things World Forum

Today’s events at the IoT World Forum included a very interesting keynote address by Cisco’s CEO John Chambers, as well as some exciting breakout sessions. Leading business executives shared their ideas and visions, which in turn are shaping IoT across their industries.

It’s been a special treat to show off the power of the Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution to attendees at the event. We deployed CMX in the beautiful event venue, during John Chambers’ keynote, and during break out sessions. Let’s take a closer look at how attendees have been seeing CMX in action:

IoT Venue: Hotel Arts

IoT World Forum is taking place at the Hotel Arts on the seafront in Barcelona. The lower ground floor houses the Keynote room, the conference rooms, registration, demo showcase and partner rooms.

The latest version of CMX, V7.6, in a pre-release form has been running at the Hotel Arts IoT venue all week. CMX allows organizations to gather and analyze aggregate location data on devices from their Cisco Wi-Fi network. For example, we can see device count and dwell time in total and by location.  The new CMX analytics dashboard (available with CMX 7.6, to be released later this year), looks like this:

iotwf5 Read More »

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Deploying, Testing, and Tuning 802.11ac

By now you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the newest generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac.  I’ll save you the gory details, just know it’s about 3x faster than 802.11n and will help to improve the capacity of your network. Jameson Blandford and I were recently guests on the No Strings Attached Show podcast with Blake Krone and Samuel Clements (Click to listen to the podcast).

I wanted to follow up the podcast with a blog to go over considerations for deploying, testing, and tuning 802.11ac.

Considerations for deploying 802.11ac

Switching infrastructure

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself, is, if your switching infrastructure can handle 11ac?  The answer probably is, yes.  The things to consider are the port speed and power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capabilities.  You’ll want the access point to have a gigabit uplink to the switch.  Each 11ac access point could potentially dump several hundred megabits per second of traffic onto your wired network.  It’s also not a bad idea to have 10 Gig uplinks on your access switches to distribution or your core.  If you have even just a couple access points on a single access switch, you may quickly find yourself wishing you had 10 Gig uplinks.

Next you’ll need to consider how you will power the access points.  If you are like the majority of our customers, you will use PoE from your switches.  While 11ac access points require 802.3at (PoE+) for full functionality, the Aironet 3700 will run happily on standard 802.3af PoE.  In fact, it remains 3 spatial-streams on both radios, so performance does not suffer because you have a PoE infrastructure.

Will you deploy 80 MHz channels? Read More »

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