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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Highways, bridges, railways, mass transit, ports, airports, and their cyber networks are all a part of critical transportation infrastructure, which is essential to the daily function of 21st century society. As urban population centers grow, so does the demand on transportation infrastructure. More and more commuters are shifting from using roadways to rail, bus and other means of public transportation.

This shift is changing the role of public transportation systems and the station hubs that support them. Commuters demand full connectivity – transportation operators must assume that everything and everyone needs to be connected to a network. But the growth of connected devices within transportation ecosystems dramatically increases the number of potential attack vectors. And as we open our transportation networks – both physical and digital – to more points of connectivity, concerns of vulnerability to increasingly sophisticated direct and indirect cyber attacks are on the rise.

The Internet of Everything is forming the foundation of the digital transformation of connected roads, rails, buses, airports, and ports being built all around the world. Improving global transportation systems increases mobility and improves safety and security for millions of people, in an environmentally conscious manner. Transportation agencies and organizations are approaching digital strategies that are changing the overall passenger experience, improving productivity, and generating new revenue streams; changing the traditional of the industry.

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Improving Military Operations with Smart and Connected Bases

As more people, process, devices and data become linked together through the Internet of Everything (IoE), the benefits from those connections become more widespread. While IoE is often discussed in terms of the future, it is already helping employees more effectively perform their jobs, turning cities into energy- and cost-saving urban centers and redefining how state and federal government agencies serve their constituents.

Both personally and professionally, connecting the unconnected is changing daily life. This is no different in the defense and intelligence community, where IoE technologies are improving military operations at home and around the world. In fact, one of the best examples of IoE’s influence can be seen through the creation of smart and connected bases.

Bases are the hub of everyday life for millions of military servicemen and women around the world. They function like small cities, with everything from residences, hospitals, office buildings, police stations and more. Bases are vital to the everyday operations of our military and require significant investment to maintain their infrastructure and functionality. IoE connected technologies are helping daily processes and life on a base run more efficiently. Smart and connected bases save money, reduce wasted time and free up personnel to perform more mission-critical tasks.

For example, RFID sensor systems can support security at base entrances. These sensors can read an RFID tag on approaching cars to identify active duty service members. The guard on duty will receive an automatic signal notifying him or her that those vehicles are approved for automated entry, allowing service members to be admitted onto the base at an automatic gate kiosk. This reduces required manpower at the gate, decreases wait times during rush hour and allows security forces to focus on unidentified and unregistered vehicles that may pose a threat or require entry assistance.

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On-Demand Video Can Transform the Way our Police Departments Train

While we most often think of the Internet of Everything (IoE) as transforming public safety forces out in the field, change can actually begin before an officer is even leaves the station. Classroom training for officers is crucial, enabling them to stay safe and perform at the highest level out in the field. Current events highlight just how important good training is, ensuring officers know how to act in all situations and act as good example of public safety in their communities. The problem is that police officers work on shift schedules, which makes it extremely difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time for training.

How do police departments guarantee their officers are trained at the highest level despite this scheduling issue? Video training. Police departments and training officers can use video to produce high-quality educational training tools that can be viewed online at an officer’s convenience. On-demand video recording tools like Cisco’s WebEx are straightforward and easy to use, and allow educational materials to be accessed anywhere via the cloud. These on-demand video presentations help make sure everyone is receiving the same level of training, improving the way public safety agencies operate before anyone even steps foot in the field.

Here are four more benefits that stem from on-demand videos for classroom training:

1. Reduce the need for trainers to be physically present at all classroom trainings

It’s still extremely important for police departments to conduct live training exercises. But by replacing classroom sessions with video training, training officers’ time is freed up to focus more on live training exercises. This makes certain officers are still receiving the training they need while helping departments operate more efficiently.

2. Eliminate the burden of shift scheduling to accommodate training

Juggling day and night shifts with training schedules is a hassle. Agency leaders have to analyze staffing, pull people off regular shifts, fill those spots with other agents and often have to pay overtime to do so. It also involves paying trainers to be onsite for multiple days. Video training allows officers to stay on their regularly-scheduled shifts, preventing the confusion and difficulty of shifting schedules and allowing officers to access training videos at a time that is convenient for them.

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Smart Parking and Lighting Make All the Difference

Let there be light…and parking spots!

There’s nothing like the quiet (or in my case, not-so-quiet) desperation of circling a few city blocks, over and over again, looking for a spot to park. You can almost feel your sanity slipping away. The search for a parking space is not only terribly frustrating; it is also a major contributor to traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

And we all love the classic case of walking home at night, tripping every few steps because, unbeknownst to you, no streetlights seem to cooperate and come to life in your neighborhood. For municipalities, street lighting is an essential maintenance effort to help improve public safety and the overall citizen experience, influencing a city’s ability to create a lasting environment for business and tourism. Unfortunately, community lighting is also a major energy and cost drain.

Of late, there is a consistent slashing of public budgets that must somehow be managed, while still meeting the growing demands from communities under the pressure of rapid urbanization. However, cities around the world are overcoming these challenges with the Internet of Everything.

In particular, communities are developing digital strategies to better address parking and city lighting needs, yielding a widespread and shared benefit. For example, with easier access to parking, citizens are facing less traffic, saving money on fuel, receiving more convenient payment options, and experiencing an overall improvement in quality of life. On the flip side, civil servants can better detect and report parking violations, increasing community revenue. Similarly, smart lighting management can contribute to a safer community. And city officials can reduce energy consumption, cost, and maintenance, all while positively contributing to the environment.

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Lowest Price / Technically Acceptable AND Secure: The Path to YES!

Is Lowest Price/Technically Acceptable (LPTA) an impediment to Secure IT solutions? 

While many hypothesize that meeting LPTA mandates and also acquiring security “built in” is as rare as the mythological unicorn, I suggest that a reasoned path to both exists.

That path requires a walk through “Value Chain” security. In the public sector, where technology supports government operations at the federal, state and local level, it is vital for government procurers of technology to:

  1. Embrace the breadth of the IT Value Chain;
  2. Understand the key threats to the IT Value Chain and the exposures to which those threats correlate; and
  3. Ensure they procure from trusted vendors who have a comprehensive approach to security across their end to end Value Chain.

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