Today is Earth Day, and that has me thinking green. As I discussed this afternoon at GigaOm’s Green: Net conference, the world is changing around us in many ways, including becoming more urbanized. Over the next five years, some 500 million people will be added to the world’s cities. As we think about how to manage the energy and environmental challenges that will accompany these trends, what role will the network play in helping us be more efficient and more sustainable? And what benefits will that bring to utilities and to consumers, to governments and communities at large?
Cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities and the energy infrastructure are at the heart of city planning. If we are to better manage this impact, we must transform our electrical grid into a modern and more sustainable platform for the 21st century. Technology is the only way we can achieve balanced and sustainable growth.
Lessons in how to make our electric grids more reliable, more secure and more scalable can be gleaned from our experience in vastly revamping the telecommunications infrastructure in the ‘90s. Here too we had somewhat proprietary, siloed networks that didn’t talk to one another. Here too we had an industry that was highly regulated and needed to cautiously implement change. And here too we had an emerging field of companies chomping at the bit to capitalize on making the new telecomm infrastructure everything it could be.
The lessons we learned from this transition are important: architect the infrastructure on open, standards-based technology; build in security from the beginning; and establish public- private partnerships to align policy with infrastructure investment needs.
This transformation will rely on new technologies but also on leveraging existing technologies such as routing and switching for a utility environment. Data centers, cloud computing and security have a role to play in managing and protecting the vast influx of usage data so that we can make better educated decisions about energy consumption. Energy management of businesses and homes will leverage the existing networks extend their reach and impact. And given that the entire grid is the world’s largest infrastructure, integrating energy infrastructure with information technology will require a disciplined, architectural approach that we can only begin to foresee.
This transition has great implications, especially in our largest cities, where the need is most apparent. Examples are cropping up around the world of this vision in action. The Envision Charlotte initiative has set a goal of reducing energy use by up to 20 percent within its perimeter through greater education of citizens and use of information technology. BC Hydro in Vancouver just announced that it will roll out 1.8 million smart meters based on Itron’s OpenWay technology, powered by Cisco, to enable a more efficient grid and foster the use of renewable energy. And the city of Incheon, Korea is building in sustainability from the ground up.
These are but a few of the examples of how cities are changing, based on their energy and environmental goals. As I look around today, I see a smarter, more connected world emerging with a more intelligent and efficient energy infrastructure, supporting millions of customers, and billions of watts, with one network at the core
Tags: Cisco, Cloud Computing, data center, energy efficiency, environment, Green Technology, security, technology
FIFTY years have elapsed since Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lit the blue touchpaper on the era of manned spaceflight. Progress was rapid—only eight years separated Gagarin’s flight from the infinitely more complicated mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon in 1969.
This week marks 50 years since Yuri became the first human in space, and there were many predictions as to what the we are living in now would look like with the advent of space flight. Some predictions have been more accurate than others. In 1911 Thomas Edison quite accurately predicted that by the year 2011 the traveller of the future will:
fly through the air, swifter than any swallow, at a speed of two hundred miles an hour, in colossal machines, which will enable him to breakfast in London, transact business in Paris and eat his luncheon in Cheapside.
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Tags: future, predictions, technology
There comes a time in the evolution of building a technology platform that you have to pause and look back where you’ve come from, before continuing on with the journey. As I think back to the formation of the Cisco Eos platform, it was a time of hard work and rapid growth.
The Cisco Media Solutions Group went from being a business unit with an idea, to truly taking form in 2007 when Cisco made three software acquisitions—Five Across, the assets of Tribe.net and the assets of Click.tv. From that day forward, we were charged with developing an innovative platform that could get media companies online in a simple, manageable way. That long journey started with the single though difficult step of uniting three independent companies and countless independent perspectives into a single team executing against a single vision.
As with any consolidation effort, tough decisions had to be made. One of the most important we faced was what development platform we were going to leverage. Our three teams had experience in just as many languages: Ruby on Rails, PHP, and Java – not to mention Adobe Flex and even a bit of C. After much debate, we chose to use Java for the back end, which includes the core Cisco Eos data and content components like blogs, discussions, and member profiles. And we chose PHP for the front end, the dynamic page-rendering environment that our users can customize for presentation to end consumers. Read More »
Tags: API, architecture, cisco eos, data, platform, social entertainment, technology
Today’s educators are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges:
Demands for greater accountabiliy based on high stakes assessments
Increasing focus on differentiated instruction and student mastery of content knowledge
Greater awarness of the importance of 21st century skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity)
Requirements to address all of the above in an environment of declining resources
In spite of these daunting challenges, innovative educators are successfully utilizing collaborative solutions in creative ways to improve outcomes for students and provide them with the skills to compete effectively in the 21st century. As a result, it is becoming increasingly clear that professional development that prepares educators to effectively integrate technology into pedagogy and curricula is an essential element of holistic education improvement initiatives.
Tags: collaboration, edtech, technology, TelePresence
By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist
This story is a bit more technical that what I’ve previously shared. That said, I’ll link to some definitions for you non-technical readers — I promise, this one is going to be worth the extra effort. However, a bit of technology is required in the telling — so please bear with me.
Let’s step back in time. The first transoceanic cables used copper wire as the conductor that carried signals between continents. Unfortunately, the technology at the time was such that the cables were extremely bandwidth-limited and could therefore support a very small number of simultaneous conversations.
Furthermore, the physics of metallic transmission dictated that the transmitted signals would decay over distance, making it necessary to amplify and/or regenerate the transmitted signal periodically. This was costly, and required additional circuitry to filter electromagnetic interference and increase the signal level every few thousand feet.
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Tags: fiber, innovation, Optical, science, technology, transoceanic, undersea cable