Internet of Things News of the Week, September 1 2017

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After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston open data helped: As someone who grew up in a now-flooded suburb of Houston, I watched Harvey with my heart in my mouth all week. I watched flooding on connected stream gauges transmitting their data every hour and scoured Google Maps/Waze for open evacuation routes to help friends find their way out of the city. It turns out the city itself is a fan of open data and this story shows how various groups used that to help city residents, volunteers and first responders plot safe routes, direct resources and even manage donations in the aftermath. This story highlights why smart cities aren’t just connected but open. (Medium)

Why edge computing is the new cloud: I’ve been thinking about this idea for the last few weeks, and plan to write something in more depth soon, but in the meantime here’s a nice encapsulation of why the edge (the real edge, not IoT gateways) is becoming more relevant for people thinking about IoT architectures. Yes, the cloud still matters, so don’t freak out. (Medium)

Even cloud software project OpenStack is excited about the edge: OpenStack, an open source software project that helps companies build massive cloud infrastructure like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, has set it sights on edge computing with its latest release. OpenStack users like Verizon, Inmarsat and Walmart are looking to build out Openstack for some seriously cool edge computing cases. I’m going to find out more, but in the meantime, this looks like something to watch. (TechCrunch)

Blockchain to prevent food poisoning? Forget digital currencies. I’ve been excited about the blockchain for its ability to provide scalable accountability for years. Amidst the Bitcoin and initial coin offering hype, here comes a compelling use case of the digital ledger’s ability to track a highly distributed system–the food supply. Walmart, Kroger, Nestle and IBM have created a blockchain-based accountability program to track foodborne illness and trace it back to the source.   (Coindesk)

What is happening with Z-wave? The challenge of heading out on summer vacation is you miss stories, such as this one from July 26 about Sigma Designs, the maker of Z-wave chips, hiring a bank to sell the company. There is a ton of consolidation in the chip space, but as the provider of Z-wave chips, this doesn’t feel like a great sign for the technology. Z-wave is still in a lot of sensors but feels less relevant as most consumers reject hubs and other wireless technologies improve their resiliency and range. (Sigma Designs)

The business world wakes up to Comcast’s goals: The business press is waking up to Comcast’s smart home designs. I’ve covered them here and am really interested to see how the battle for monitored home security shakes out between ADT, Ring and Comcast. If you want to revisit the topic, check out the Reuters article or any of mine linked above. (Reuters)

Austin’s School District is using telemedicine to cut down on nurses: We often talk about connected medicine as a way to deliver care to rural areas, but another element is the elimination of certain jobs. In this case, one nurse will now oversee medical aides working at six schools, up from one nurse covering three schools.  (Austin American-Statesman)

Talk to your health provider about the risk of this software patch: This week the FDA warned almost 500,000 patients who have one of four Abbot Labs’ pacemakers that their devices had software vulnerabilities. Two of the pacemakers didn’t store patient information or transmit it in an encrypted format. All of them had vulnerabilities that could result in repeated radio calls to drain the battery or issue unauthorized commands.  While control of the pacemaker isn’t easy to exploit, the fact that the patch requires patients to visit their doctor’s office for a software patch that may or may not cause problems with their device changes the risk equation. The FDA’s advice? Update it in the physician’s office and talk to your doctor to see if this patch makes sense to you. I bet cardiologists are really excited to have this new role.  (ICS-CERT)

There’s a cheaper, new Nest thermostat: I think the frosted front makes it pretty ugly. For the same $ 169 price tag of the cheaper Nest, just buy the Ecobee Lite.  (Ars Technica)

Speaking of connected thermostats: The government of Ontario, through Green Ontario Fund, plans to buy up to 100,000 connected thermostats for residents and install them through 2018. It plans to install 30,000 this year and the remaining 70,000 in 2018 to help reduce energy use in homes and small businesses. Residents can choose Honeywell, Ecobee and Nest thermostats, but my hunch is Canadian company Ecobee may get a hometown advantage. (MobileSyrup)

Two IoT standards groups are teaming up: The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International are going to work together. The IIC has been working with a variety of companies to build reference frameworks for a variety of scenarios. These aren’t standards, just models of how different connected systems might work together. (Smart Cities World)

Two good stories on design and UX for IoT: Designing interfaces for connected products involves hardware, software and perhaps even a service component. This makes it exceptionally difficult, especially if the product manufacturer doesn’t get the designers involved early. The story from Machine Design goes into exhaustive detail on design considerations for connected devices, while the article from Fast Companytalks about the disturbing trend of manipulative design and what it means when we combine physical products with software. (Machine DesignFast Company)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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