Smart energy: Why vehicle-to-grid technology is on the move

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There’s a lot to be said for using car batteries as temporary energy storage facilities, but significant barriers still stand in the way of widespread uptake, as Jessica Twentyman explains.

What do you get if you cross an electric vehicle with a smart building? According to Hitachi Europe, Mitsubishi Motors, and energy company ENGIE, the answer could be an energy-neutral office block that uses cars in the parking lot as a temporary energy storage facility.

Last week, the three companies announced a project in the Netherlands that will see them test out their theories, by linking a Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to ENGIE’s office building in Zaandam, via Hitachi’s two-way V2X Charger.

The V2X Charter can be used not only to recharge an electric vehicle (EV), but also to discharge the energy held in its battery back into a building when needed. In this way, when a building equipped with solar panels generates more energy than it needs, for example, the excess might be stored in vehicles until it’s required.

For the next stage of its project, the consortium will examine how EVs, renewable energy, and smart building energy management systems might be more closely coordinated to reduce energy costs and emissions, with the ultimate goal of making buildings energy neutral, according to Hitachi Europe’s chief digital officer, Ram Ramachander.

“Our technology can also help to create new business cases across the EV value chain,” he says, “including vehicle-to-grid technology, which enables flexibility with their energy distribution.”

V2G promises

The term ‘vehicle-to-grid’, or V2G, is not new. The idea of using car batteries as a source of power in grid services has been seen as attractive for several years, not only because of the growing lithium-ion capacity tied up in EVs, but also because much of that energy is not being used a great deal of the time.

As Vincent Cobee, corporate vice president at Mitsubishi Motors, puts it, the project in Zaandam aims to show that EVs and PHEVs “can be a vital component of energy in the future.”

Last month, automaker Nissan announced a partnership with energy giant E.ON at the Geneva Motor Show, which focuses in part on “vehicle-to-grid infrastructure and advanced bi-directional charging technology to allow customers to optimise their energy use and costs.”

The UK government seems to see a lot of promise in V2G, too. In February 2018, the Department of Transport announced a new £30 million investment in V2G technologies, which it hopes will unlock the potential for EVs to be used to power homes, rather than the other way around.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman certainly didn’t hold back his enthusiasm for the technology. “These projects are at the cutting edge of their field,” he said. “Just like the visionary designs of Brunel and Stephenson in transport, they could revolutionise the ways in which we store and manage electricity, both now and in the future.”

One of the groups that will benefit from that funding brings together energy storage specialist Moixa Energy, the UK’s National Grid, Western Power Distribution, and Nissan’s Technical Centre Europe, among others.

If electric vehicles are left plugged into smart, two-way charging points when not in use, argue the consortium’s members, their batteries can feed power into the network at times of peak demand. Just ten new Nissan LEAFs can store as much energy as a thousand homes typically consume in an hour, they claim.

“Smart chargers can also control when cars recharge to avoid stressing the network and to store surplus power when demand is low. This will allow the grid to operate more efficiently, support high levels of renewables, and rely less on fossil fuel power stations,” the consortium says.

Its study, V2GB – Vehicle to Grid Britain, aims to establish the best way to incentivise a rapid rollout of the technology, via sharing the revenues that result from V2G energy flows among drivers, owners of smart charging stations and car parks, and aggregators of battery capacity.

Internet of Business says

A promising technology, but the journey to becoming a mainstream, everyday option is still some way off for V2G. One concern it that discharging energy from a stationary EV stresses its battery, which is one of its most expensive components.

Paying drivers to take part may prove to be the critical incentive that helps V2G schemes succeed, but not all drivers will be persuaded to participate, especially if they’re concerned about their EV being drained of power just before they set off on a journey. This is where smart energy management software may play a big role, by helping to ensure that charging and discharging fits in with drivers’ preferences and schedules.

Utilities’ ability to keep up is also in question. It’s no secret that many are already struggling to deal with growing EV charging requirements, even though they look set to gain massively if they can reposition themselves as ‘the new petroleum companies’.

Recent analysis by research firm Wood Mackenzie, for example, predicts that simultaneously charging 60,000 EVs in Texas could cause a massive grid failure in that state – even though that total accounts for just 0.25 percent of the 24 million vehicles registered by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Plus, there just aren’t that many EVs available that support two-way flows. Most EVs can chug away at charging points, but vehicles capable of regurgitating the contents of their battery for use elsewhere are yet to emerge in substantial numbers.

In short, automakers have a lot of work to do to make V2G systems work.

But that is not to say that the hurdles can’t be overcome in time. The benefits are potentially huge: a more resilient smart grid, energy-neutral buildings, cleaner air, and lower carbon emissions.

Read more: Electric car demand supercharges lithium-ion battery market. Positive news?

Read more: Battery breakthrough puts superfast-charging electric vehicles on road

Read more: WaveRoller energy: Why the sea is the world’s biggest battery

Read more: Pirelli smart tyres underpin its Cyber Car strategy

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US researchers develop wearable for smart stomach health

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A research team from University California Berkeley and the University of California San Diego has developed a wearable system for monitoring electrical activity in the stomach.

It is as accurate at diagnosing some medical conditions as current invasive methods, without traditional treatments’ restriction to clinical settings.

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are the second leading cause for missing work or school in the US, and are responsible for 10 percent of patient visits to a doctor. But, according to a UCSD and UC Berkeley paper published in Nature, their prevalence is “at odds with bottlenecks in their diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.”

Trying to figure out the source of problems in the GI tract can be a major challenge for doctors. In search of answers, patients are sometimes asked to undergo unpleasant or invasive procedures – such manometry, which requires a catheter to be inserted through the nose to measure pressure at different points inside the stomach.

Read more: Health IoT: Scientists develop diet wearable – for your teeth

“A new kind of medicine”

The problem is especially complicated with young children, who usually need sedation for invasive procedures. The wearable system developed by the UCSD and UC Berkeley team offers an alternative without sacrificing the accuracy of the results.

It consists of a custom circuitboard, a battery and off-the-shelf electrodes, and connects to a smartphone application. But the researchers’ real achievement has been to design algorithms capable of recognising and analysing the stomach’s varying electrical signals.

Read more: Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

“We think our system will spark a new kind of medicine, where a gastroenterologist can quickly see where and when a part of the GI tract is showing abnormal rhythms and, as a result, make more accurate, faster, and personalised diagnoses,” said Armen Gharibans, one of the paper’s co-authors and a bioengineering postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego.

Co-author Todd Coleman, a UC San Diego professor of bioengineering, points out that being able to monitor patients without an invasive procedure over longer periods of time could lead to better outcomes.

“This work opens the door to accurately monitoring the dynamic activity of the GI system,” he said. “Until now, it was quite challenging to accurately measure the electrical patterns of stomach activity in a continuous manner, outside of a clinical setting. From now on, we will be able to observe patterns and analyse them, in both healthy and unwell people as they go about their daily lives.”

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare

Widening the scope

It is expected that as well as spotting health problems, UCSD and UC Berkeley’s wearable technology could also help with their management. It could even inform the diets of healthy people, from competitive athletes to pregnant women.

“Changes to digestion and gastric health are hallmarks of two understudied processes: ageing and pregnancy,” said Benjamin Smarr, another of the paper’s co-authors and a chronobiologist at UC Berkeley.

“One of our hopes is that this technology will allow us to quantify the changes that happen during these critical periods in life. They affect the vast majority of humanity, and it will now be possible to study what’s going on, and build predictive, personal medical applications based on getting ahead of bad changes.”

Internet of Business says

2018 has certainly been the year of healthtech wearables, which have proven to be especially adept at monitoring changes in electrical activity within the body, which may indicate a variety of different medical conditions. Combined with AI and smart algorithms, doctors have been able to make accurate diagnoses that are comparable to traditional investigations, but far more swiftly and sensitively. Speeding up diagnoses, while offering non-invasive alternatives to longstanding procedures, will not only save lives, but perhaps encourage more people to seek treatment early.

Some more of our recent reports:

Read more: Consumer wearables can detect major heart problem

Read more: Perfect storm blows healthtech towards IoT cures

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare


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Tesla slammed by safety board after latest autonomous fatality

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US carmaker Tesla has been slammed by the US road safety board after confirming details of a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles last week.

Walter (Wei) Huang, the driver of a Tesla Model X SUV, was killed on March 23 when his car hit a concrete barrier on Highway 101, which connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley. He was reportedly on his way to work at Apple.

The company has announced that the car was in autonomous mode, using Tesla’s Autopilot technology, when it hit the barrier, and that Huang’s hands were not on the wheel – as they should have been – when the accident happened.

In a blog post on Tesla’s website, the company said:

“In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9.27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 metres of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.

“The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.”

Tesla has been slammed by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for releasing this information without alerting the agency beforehand, as it is required to do in a signed agreement.

The NTSB, which is still investigating the accident, said, “We take each unauthorised release seriously. However, this release will not hinder our investigation.”

Increased safety

Tesla has been swift to defend the safety record of its autonomous technologies after the incident, which saw the value of its shares plunge in a sell-off.

“Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the US government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability.

“In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

The fatality occurred just one week after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. However, it is not the first death involving a Tesla vehicle running on Autopilot. Two years ago, a driver was killed when an autonomous Tesla Model S drove into the side of a truck. It was reported that the driver may have been watching a Harry Potter movie in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

In the past Tesla has been criticised for talking about the safety of its technologies after serious accidents or fatalities. It addressed this point in its blog post, saying: “In the past, when we have brought up statistical safety points, we have been criticised for doing so, implying that we lack empathy for the tragedy that just occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us. However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.”

Read more: Uber: Self-driving cars ordered off road by US, sells to Grab

Read more: Toyota halts autonomous car tests after Uber accident

Internet of Business says

This latest fatality puts US regulators in a difficult position. While Arizona authorities took Uber’s self-driving cars off the road after a pedestrian was killed by one during an autonomous test, this latest fatality involves a technology, Autopilot, that is already built into production models.

The accident reveals the core problem with driverless technologies at present: in the two most recent fatalities, the general thrust of arguments has been to imply that the human drivers were at fault for either not looking at the road or not having their hands on the wheel – a logical absurdity with autonomous technologies.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik explained the distinction. “Tesla has driver-assist technology and that’s very different from our approach. If there’s an accident in a Tesla, the human in the driver’s seat is ultimately responsible for paying attention.”

Nevertheless, in both recent fatalities the technologies were driving the cars, regardless of whether the human drivers should have been paying more attention. This cannot be ignored.

Huang’s brother Will told ABC7 news that Walter had complained “Seven to 10 times that the car would swivel toward that same exact barrier during autopilot. Walter took it into dealership addressing the issue, but they couldn’t duplicate it there.”

The core question, then, is simple: should the developers of a technology that is still in its infancy seek to blame human drivers for every death? Questions like this will become increasingly commonplace as AI and autonomous systems become more dominant in our lives, calling into question longstanding legal concepts, such as liability, and ethical concepts, such as responsibility.

The subtext, therefore, is all about trust: human drivers need to trust autonomous technologies, but doing so makes them focus on things other than the road. To suggest that human drivers should concentrate on the road and the wheel while their vehicles are in autonomous mode is tantamount to suggesting that they shouldn’t trust the technology.

As we move towards completely autonomous systems, including driverless trucks and road vehicles that are designed purely for passengers, the law urgently needs to catch up.

Read more: New Baidu, Jaguar Land Rover driverless cars take to the road

Read more: Waymo turns the ignition on self-driving trucks

Read more: Fetch launches world’s first autonomous AI smart ledger

Read more: Pure Storage, NVIDIA launch enterprise AI supercomputer in a box

Read more: AI regulation & ethics: How to build more human-focused AI

Read more: Cambridge Analytica vs Facebook: Why AI laws are inadequate


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MIT’s CSAIL lab studies aquatic life with robot fish

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Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a solution to a problem faced by marine biologists around the world.

Getting a closer look at ocean life can be a challenge. Conventional methods require boats, divers, and camera rigs. Together, these tend to disturb both sea creatures and their sensitive habitats, such as coral reefs.

The observer effect also applies: the creatures’ behaviour changes as a result of them being watched.

The solution is obvious: blend in, which is why MIT has developed a robot fish, SoFi, which moves just like a real one.

Read more: Robot swans to measure water quality in Singapore

SoFi is made of silicon rubber. It has an undulating tail and can control its own buoyancy, swim in a straight line, turn and dive up or down, all controlled via a waterproof Super Nintendo controller.

“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” writes CSAIL PhD candidate Robert Katzschmann, lead author of a new article about the project published in Science Robotics.

“We are excited about the possibility of being able to use a system like this to get closer to marine life than humans can get on their own.”

Exploring coral reefs without disturbing them

Swimming untethered has been a challenge for robots until now. In part, this is because using standard radio frequencies to communicate underwater is practically impossible. Instead, the SoFi system uses acoustic signals that allow divers to take control using a modified Nintendo remote from up to 70 feet away.

SoFi has had successful test dives at Fiji’s Rainbow Reef, where the robot managed depths of more than 50 feet for 40 minutes at a time. The robot fish was able to record high-res photos and videos using – appropriately enough – a fisheye lens.

“The authors show a number of technical achievements in fabrication, powering, and water resistance that allow the robot to move underwater without a tether,” says Cecilia Laschi, a professor of biorobotics at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

“A robot like this can help explore the reef more closely than current robots, both because it can get closer more safely for the reef, and because it can be better accepted by the marine species.”

Read more: CSAIL team pairs robots with VR for smart manufacturing

Looking ahead

Katzschmann has said that plans are already in the pipeline to improve SoFi. For example, the team wants to increase the fish’s speed by improving its pump system and improving the overall design.

They also want to add tracking algorithms to allow SoFi to follow real fish automatically using its onboard camera.

“We view SoFi as a first step toward developing almost an underwater observatory of sorts,” says Rus. “It has the potential to be a new type of tool for ocean exploration and to open up new avenues for uncovering the mysteries of marine life.”

Internet of Business says

With the media’s coverage of robotics tending to focus on humanoid, industrial, transport, or aerial drone applications, marine robots are often overlooked, but in fact are a major area of development worldwide. For example, robots that move on or below the ocean waves play an important role in environmental, climate, or disaster monitoring, and have applications in offshore installation maintenance too.

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Opinion: Why emerging markets should choose GSM LPWAN for IIoT projects

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OPINION Neil Hamilton, VP of Business Development at Thingstream, explains why businesses in emerging markets should choose GSM-based LPWAN connectivity to realise the full potential of IIoT projects.

iob new conectionsNEW CONNECTIONS

An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.

The rapid adoption of consumer and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications in developed markets, powered by the cloud, has already changed the way in which services are consumed, and their potential is vast. However, the potential for the IIoT in developing markets is also enormous; IDC predicts that projects in Africa and the Middle East alone will grow to a market valuation of $ 7 billion in 2018.

However, fragmented connectivity and infrastructures in these regions are still significant barriers to deploying effective, widespread IIoT systems.

The challenge in emerging markets

Current low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) struggle to provide full coverage outside of major cities and towns even in developed nations, so overcoming fragmented rural connectivity in emerging markets is far from easy.

While cellular data connectivity in most developing markets remains limited, it is still more prevalent than other LPWANs offered by unlicensed providers; these still need to connect to a cellular network to communicate with the IoT ecosystem.

This is why businesses need a cost-effective, reliable, secure, and low-power option that provides ubiquitous connectivity, using the existing infrastructure.

There are many industries in these markets in which cellular or unlicensed technologies severely restrict the deployment of IIoT applications, largely due to a lack of roaming coverage.

For example, an organisation that wishes to track its assets across borders in rural areas will be unable to have full visibility of goods whenever connections are lost. Similarly, for fixed-location services where there is a lack of coverage, regularly sending data to the cloud isn’t always possible. And when a network is available, cellular roaming charges can be prohibitively expensive.

GSM-based low-power connectivity

The most ubiquitous network is the established GSM voice network, which is now available in more than 190 countries and is increasingly reliable, especially when compared with cellular data.

IoT devices can automatically connect wherever GSM connectivity is present, using the strongest network available. This avoids disruption when moving between carriers on a cellular signal, ensuring worldwide connectivity. So it makes sense to leverage this network, as other internet-based options are unable to compete in terms of cost, reliability, and coverage.

One solution is low-bandwidth messaging, achieved through a Message Queue Telemetry Transport for Sensor Networks (MQTT-SN) system. Communicating across a USSD messaging protocol that’s available on the GSM voice network, this lightweight publish/subscribe protocol can send tiny packets of data –160 bytes or less – providing true ubiquitous IoT connectivity.

This is boosted by the inclusion of integrated Quality of Service (QoS), allowing an MQTT-SN protocol to handle the transmission and re-transmission of messages, guaranteeing delivery to the corresponding ‘thing’ or application. The level of QoS is fully customisable for IoT adopters, depending on network security and application logic.

Furthermore, IoT sensors can be programmed to communicate almost any type of information that can be carried across a low-bandwidth signal, avoiding the need to have multiple devices that further clog the network.

The power issue is also circumnavigated, thanks to the way in which the devices can work. By sending data only when needed, a device’s on/off setup enables battery longevity to be maximised, not only for months, but for years, creating a true LPWAN.

This is also advantageous in emerging markets with unreliable power grids, where outages are more commonplace. Instead of sending data at regular intervals, data can be delivered when parameters have changed. For example, this would allow for remote condition monitoring of equipment, allowing for maintenance to be better planned for and more predictable.

Furthermore, data is not communicated using the internet, greatly improving cyber security by having no need to use IP addresses between devices and the connectivity platform, helping to keep connectivity levels high and costs low.

For devices that are remotely connected via the internet, the issue of securely bridging the ‘air gap’ between operational technology and IT systems continues to prove a major challenge for the safe transfer of data, which again favours GSM connectivity.

Choosing the right connectivity for emerging markets

The emergence of LPWANs, such as a GSM voice-based network, has forced businesses in emerging markets to change how they approach IoT deployments. This is because they need to think about what data is actually required from devices and how often that data is needed.

If this can be included in 160 bytes or less, why pay for an energy-sapping internet connection that is costly to implement and run, while also being visible to potential hackers?

An alternative, GSM voice-based network is the strongest and most reliable option that offers true global connectivity for IoT devices to communicate in emerging markets. Using a network with an already-established infrastructure offers huge advantages in scalability, connectivity, security, and cost.

Choosing such a network can enhance efficiencies in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, logistics, and utilities, all of which are economically crucial in emerging markets. This type of connectivity will enable IIoT projects to be quickly accelerated in developing countries, helping to create a truly global supply chain.

Internet of Business says: This opinion piece has been provided by Thingstream, and not by our independent editorial team.

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10 steps to IoT GDPR compliance | Expert panel

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GDPR poses complex challenges to IoT programmes and networks. Kate O’Flaherty presents Internet of Business’ 10-point plan to protect your organisation – and, most importantly, your customers.

Companies could face fines of up to four percent of turnover for data breaches once the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018 – which the UK has also cast into law. In an age of information, and after the fallout from the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica ‘breach’ and other scandals, regulators are taking data protection very seriously.

GDPR compliance is particularly challenging when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), because it can be difficult to gain the consent needed to process personal data within IoT networks. In addition, GDPR advocates ‘privacy by design’, something that IoT devices aren’t known for, despite the recent moves by industry and governments to change this.

But compliance is by no means impossible. In fact, IoT organisations that go the extra mile in protecting data will benefit from increased customer trust, which can be a business differentiator.

So, what are the 10 things that organisations must consider for their IoT programmes ahead of the compliance deadline?

1. Be aware of the data you collect and process

Experts advise IoT-using organisations to assess whether the information they collect is personal data. But be advised: if you don’t collect personal information, that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the regulations.

As Adrian Davis, EMEA director of cybersecurity advocacy at security training specialist (ISC)2 points out: “Just because you collect sensor data from IoT devices, don’t think that you are exempt from GDPR. Know where your data is, how it is protected, and what to do if there’s a problem.”

As part of this, some companies will need to reconsider how they’re storing data, says Alastair Johnson, founder and CEO of secure payment vendor, Nuggets. He thinks features such as client-side encryption and blockchain technology could be useful to protect businesses.

“In the event of a data breach, this type of tech stack mitigates any risk that a company may face under GDPR: There simply isn’t any user data stored in a business’ database for a malicious party to steal.”

• Internet of Business advises organisations to read up on the pros and cons of blockchain-based systems, which may not be appropriate for many applications.

Read more: IoT 101: How blockchain transforms manufacturing, supply chains
Read more: Fintech firm launches blockchain platform for legal contracts

2. Understand consent

Under GDPR, consent has to be given when personal data is processed. However, Helen Goldthorpe, associate at law firm Shulmans LLP, points out that there are several aspects of processing data, of which consent “is just one”. Others include requirements of contract, and legitimate interest – for example, if the data is being used for employee safety purposes.

3. Know that consent and GDPR apply to the whole supply chain

Many IoT firms don’t realise that customers can withdraw consent and have the ‘right to be forgotten’ (to have all data about them permanently erased), says Guy Bunker, SVP products at security company Clearswift. And when consent is withdrawn, your suppliers must also remove this information.

“The IoT community needs to think beyond getting consent. They need to consider what they will go through if consent is removed and customers ask for the right to be forgotten. In some cases, you will need to do a reasonable amount of work.”

4. Record everything you do to meet the requirements of GDPR

The regulations require companies to record all of their data processing. The payoff, says (ISC)2’s Davis, is: “If you have a problem and are investigated, you can show you did all this stuff and it still went wrong.”

Indeed, as Jon Collins, an analyst at technology research group Gigaom, explains, GDPR isn’t designed to catch companies out. Rather, its intention is to prevent the abuse of data. He says:

Understand what you do, say what you are doing about it, and do what you say. That’s a really good, simple check. If you are the kind of organisation that’s genuinely looking to do the right thing, the regulation isn’t there to catch you out.”

5. Be aware of the need for privacy by design, and default

Privacy by design is one of the stipulations of GDPR. Within the IoT, this applies to devices and software, in addition to backend systems.

Steve Giguere, security strategist at Synopsys Software Integrity Group, explains: “GDPR compliance can’t be achieved by securing IoT devices alone, since they are usually part of a much larger ecosystem.

“Governance and policies for security and privacy must be established and applied to the IoT devices that collect personal information, as well as to the networks and backend systems that transmit and process data.”

Shulmans LLP’s Goldthorpe adds that products “need to be developed from the ground up”. For example, she says: “You should have the ability to delete data to comply with subject access rights.

“Also, understand at an early stage how devices collect data, so you can explain if asked. With older devices, decide whether they need to collect that data at all.”

6. Basic security hygiene will help you comply

Basic security hygiene, such as making sure all systems are patched, is essential, says Clearswift’s Bunker. “As the IoT world is vulnerable, keeping those systems up to date is important, but the basics are often overlooked. Even if you have the best system in the world, if someone can still make a mistake on the inside, that’s a compliance breach.”

This applies to manufacturing systems too, says Gigaom’s Collins. “If you aren’t thinking about securing these now, you’d better start really quickly.

“Many IoT companies are only looking at very low-level data security, such as encryption. They aren’t thinking about more complex attacks, such as denial of service (DoS) and data being manipulated, and about the processes around this.”

7. See GDPR as a business differentiator

As we have seen with the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal, trust is integral to the future of data protection. According to Bunker: “GDPR is not about fines, it’s about increasing trust within organisations. It’s one of those things where if you do it right, you increase trust and therefore have a competitive advantage.”

8. Remember that GDPR compliance is ongoing

Even if you think your organisation is ready for the regulation, it’s important to remember that GDPR compliance is not an endpoint; it’s ongoing. “In some ways this is more valuable,” says Bunker.

It’s not just a tick in the box, it’s about being better forever.”

9. Consider employing a data protection officer

A data protection officer (DPO) will be a mandatory requirement for public authorities, and for any organisation whose core activities include the regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a wide scale.

This means that any large-scale IoT-using organisation may need to employ a DPO as part of GDPR compliance – certainly it will need a senior responsible owner.

When making the appointment, Goldthorpe advises that organisations should take steps to avoid any conflicts of interest: “Ideally, if you are a big organisation, it makes sense to place a DPO within the compliance function.”

10. Prepare your response

It also wise to ensure that tested, rehearsed, and updated management plans are in place to respond to any breach, says Davis. “GDPR tells you to report within 72 hours – you should be doing this anyway.”

Preparing your response also applies to other aspects of GDPR, such as subject access requests. As part of this, Bunker asks: “If someone makes a subject access request, how quickly can you, as an organisation, get that data and respond?”

Internet of Business says

A good question to ask. And as Kate O’Flaherty and our expert panel say, remember: GDPR isn’t an endpoint, it’s an ongoing process.

We would add one further essential point to consider: Remember that many consumers may see GDPR as an opportunity to assert themselves – especially since revelations about Facebook’s logging of call data, alongside the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In light of news stories like these, it seems inevitable that some customers may demand to see proof that data is being collected in their own interests (a further stipulation of GDPR) and for a useful purpose. Others may insist that their data is permanently removed from systems. From 25 May, you will have no choice but to comply.

After all, GDPR has been introduced to protect consumers’ and citizens’ interests, to reset the balance within the information economy – which regulators believe has tipped to far towards organisations’ commercial interests – and to prevent the wholesale grabbing of private data.

Internet of Business is committed to providing solutions to data privacy and security problems, as well as reporting the latest news. Here are just some of our recent reports on these and related areas:

Read more: IIoT security: How to secure the ‘Internet of Threats’, by IBM

Read more: IoT Security: How to fight attacks on health, energy, and transport

Read more: Gartner: IoT security spend hitting $ 1.5 billion – but strategy poor

Read more: Cambridge Analytica vs Facebook: Why AI laws are inadequate

Read more: Prevent malicious use of AI, say Oxford, Cambridge, Yale

Read more: How to secure 5G to prevent IoT disasters: expert panel

Read more: GDPR: Consumers demand more data privacy from the IoT

Read more: Vendors, users ignoring IoT security in rush to market – report

Read more: UK government proposes IoT security and device labelling scheme

Read more: Blockchain: Lose the block and chain to be useful, Capacilon MD | Q&A
Read more: Bitcoin blockchain contains porn, say researchers. Not news, say coders

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DJI and FLIR launch drone tech that saves lives

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dji and flir launch zenmuse xt2 and sdk

Drone industry leader DJI has teamed up with thermal imaging specialists FLIR to launch a new two-lensed camera system that enables drones to break new ground in infrastructure inspection, precision agriculture, firefighting, and search and rescue applications.

The technology was demonstrated at the headquarters of the Menlo Park fire department in California.

Read more: How drones are helping hurricane recovery efforts

Two eyes in the sky

The Zenmuse XT2 is both an optical and a thermal imaging camera. The two lenses enable the camera to capture heat signatures that are invisible to the naked eye while also providing a 4K video feed for data capture and situational awareness.

Although the dual-vision has many potential uses, from inspecting solar farms to detecting hazardous materials, it has obvious advantages in emergency rescue situations.

dji and flir launch new camera for emergency services
The Zenmuse XT2 camera provides two separate video feeds.

“The Zenmuse XT2 continues our longstanding partnership with FLIR to create the most powerful thermal imaging solution available on a drone today,” said Jan Gasparic, DJI’s head of enterprise partnerships.

“This is a significant advance for public safety professionals who are using drones to save lives, and create new industrial applications across different verticals.”

Read more: Vodafone to trial air traffic control system for drones

“We are excited to continue our collaboration with DJI to develop sensors for their industry-leading drone platforms,” said Frank Pennisi, president of the Industrial Business Unit at FLIR Systems.

“The Zenmuse XT2 uses a radiometric thermal imaging camera core to capture accurate temperature data for every pixel, ensuring that drone operators have access to as much information as possible during critical, and often life-saving, missions.”

The Zenmuse XT2 is compatible with DJI’s Matrice 200 and Matrice 600 Pro enterprise models.

Software hotspots

The innovation doesn’t all lie in the hardware, however. The onboard software includes two intelligent flight modes to assist first responders. These include Spotlight Pro, which allows the pilot to focus on flying while the camera automatically keeps the hottest object, or a specified area, in its sights.

For infrastructure inspections or emergencies involving hazardous materials, the Temp Alarm feature analyses thermal data from above in real-time, and alerts the operator when an object’s temperature goes above a designated limit.

Read more: Smart city hotspots: FLIR manages traffic using thermal imaging

Saving a life every week

Christian Struwe, DJI’s European head of public policy, told Internet of Business that the company is proud to move beyond consumer photography into areas that are more socially useful.

“Every day we see an increasing number of stories from around the world, of drones not only saving time and money, but more importantly peoples’ lives. In fact, just last year DJI released the first-ever survey of lifesaving drone activities, finding that on average drones save almost one life per week.

“As a company, we’re really proud that the technology that makes this possible started with the drones that people fly for fun. Just like with computers and phones, as more people see the good things drones are doing, the more they appreciate the benefits this technology brings to society.”

Democratising drone technology

DJI has also released a new Payload Software Development Kit (SDK), which enables developers to build specialised platforms for any industrial purpose.

Together with the accompanying Skyport adapter, the Payload SDK opens the door to anyone seeking to integrate customised sensors and cameras with drone platforms. DJI sees the move as “unlocking the true potential of drone technology”.

“Our new Payload SDK makes it possible for any manufacturer to create a payload specific to their customers’ needs that will work seamlessly with DJI’s aircraft,” said Gasparic.

“We believe these advances will not only strengthen DJI’s leadership in the commercial drone industry, but will also provide a powerful, flexible, and standardised platform that customers from different industries can build upon.”

Read more: DJI launches FlightHub for drone fleet management

Internet of Business says

Drones that are capable of saving lives could help to turn the tide of public opinion in favour of the technology; many still associate it with enthusiasts intruding on public spaces, or link the word with military applications.

As by far the biggest hardware manufacturer in this space, DJI should be congratulated for broadening its focus and for recognising the technology’s potential to transform a range of industries.

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No Under Armour: 150 million users’ data lifted from MyFitnessPal

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NEWSBYTE US fitness giant Under Armour, which owns the MyFitnessPal application and community, has announced that the usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords of 150 million users have been accessed in a mass data breach.

MyFitnessPal allows members to track their fitness and calorie intake via wearable devices and smartphones.

Separately stored payment details, driving licences, and social security numbers were not lifted by the hackers, according to the company.

“Once more unto the breach…”

Although announced last night, the breach reportedly occurred at the end of February and Under Armour has already taken steps to notify its members privately.

Speaking about the attack, Evgeny Chereshnev, founder and CEO of secure ID specialist Biolink.Tech said, “150 million hacked accounts is hugely significant, especially because most users use the same pairs of logins and passwords across multiple sites. Hackers will break the weakest point; in this case a fitness tracker database, and they can use this information to access users’ emails, social networks, and more.

“When users are notified about changing passwords following a breach, more often than not they do so in a predictable way, such as by adding a 1 or a ! at the end, but these algorithms are known by hackers. They use machine learning and AI too.

“Hackers can also match these stolen email addresses and passwords to other known databases of stolen credit card numbers, social security numbers, behavioural data bought from brokers etc. With this aggregated data, hackers can build up a detailed profile of a user.”

Internet of Business says

Paranoia aside, the breach has been reported as “another day on the internet” by some commentators, revealing that this pattern of behaviour has simply become part of normal life, in the wake of similar attacks on Adobe, Uber, LinkedIn, and many others in recent years.

The positive takeaway is that Under Armour didn’t store password data unsalted, unlike some other large organisations, including LinkedIn, which failed to secure their members’ details against unauthorised access. At least Under Armour had a modicum of under armour to cover itself, and has handled the breach well.

That said, global coverage of any mass data breach will cause significant brand damage in the short term, however well an organisation deals with the bad news.

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Robot teachers take classes at Finland primary school

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A primary school in Tampere, Finland has had an altogether different supply teacher experience this week. The school has been the venue for a robot teacher trial as part of a pilot to see how effective humanoid machines might be at taking charge of lessons.

Read more: Dublin City University, Talent Garden team up for IoT campus

Robotic language and maths teachers

Two humanoid robots, Elias and OVObot, were tasked with taking language and maths classes, respectively. On the surface, the two subjects might seem to be very different, but both require an understanding of, and ability to navigate through, logical structures.

The Elias robot can speak and understand 23 different languages. Its software has been designed to help it understand the language levels and specific requirements of each child.

Elias is based on the NAO humanoid companion robot. Educational software company Utelias developed a program especially for the platform to enable it to teach languages to young children.

The NAO machines were originally designed and developed by French company Aldebaran Robotics, now SoftBank Robotics, a division of the Japanese communications giant that now owns Boston Dynamics. The company also makes the emotion-sensing Pepper machine, and humanoid care robot Romeo.

An Elias (NAO) robot wakes up.

A range of apps can be downloaded onto NAO robots – including storytelling programs, specialist tools for teaching children who are on the autism spectrum, and dances such as Gangnam Style and Thriller – which doubtless makes the learning experience engaging for younger pupils.

OVObot, tasked with teaching maths, is a smaller speech-recognition-based machine that resembles an owl. The robot has been developed in Finland by startup Ovobots, specifically to teach maths skills. It asks questions and awards points according to how well pupils answer them. The platform also supports personalised learning.

Read more: Women in AI & IoT: Why it’s vital to Re-Work the gender balance

Motivating kids with technology

The pilot intends to discover the effect of robots on both the quality of teaching and the progress of children’s maths and language learning. Elias robots and OVObots have been deployed in a number of schools across the country as part of the project.

“I think in the new curriculum the main idea is to get the kids involved and get them motivated and make them active. I see Elias as one of the tools to get different kinds of practice and different kinds of activities into the classroom,” said language teacher Riikka Kolunsarka.

“In that sense, I think robots, and coding the robots and working with them, is definitely something that is according to the new curriculum, and something that we teachers need to be open-minded about.”

Read more: SoftBank acquires Google robotics specialists Boston Dynamics and Schaft

Additional reporting: Chris Middleton.

Internet of Business says

The use of NAO machines in the classroom has a long history: the robots have a range of educational and storytelling apps that are ideal for younger children, which can be downloaded via the developer community.

However, one challenge is that far more apps are available for older versions of the NAO humanoid, which was originally conceived by Aldeberan Robotics as a research and development platform. Newer versions of the machines, which have improved stability and engineering, are unable to run some of the older code.

The problem seems to be that since the robots have left developers’ labs and made their way into wider, more public applications, enthusiasm for developing new apps seems to have waned among the coder community – a familiar paradox. That said, the robots are easy to program via their own Choreograph (or Choreographe) app.

robot teachers have been trialed as part of a pilot program in finland school
OVObot in the classroom.

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Opinion: The Visual Internet of Things – why IoT needs visual data

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OPINION James Wickes, CEO and co-founder of Cloudview, explains why visual data is an untapped resource for smart analytics within many IoT projects.

iob new conectionsNEW CONNECTIONS

An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.

We are constantly reading about IoT developments, but these rarely include visual data – which is strange, because sight is our most powerful sense and we are surrounded by digital cameras. However, much of the visual data currently collected is stored locally and only used for a single purpose, while a huge percentage is never used at all. Combining this with other IoT data streams and adding analytics would make it immensely valuable.

The volumes of visual data available are eye-watering. Looking at CCTV alone. In 2015, the British Security Industry Association estimated that there were between four and six million security cameras in the UK. Our own research suggests there are now around 8.2 million. Even six million cameras recording 12 hours a day would capture 72 million hours of footage every day, producing 7.5 petabytes of visual data every hour.

Analytics and visual data: a formidable pairing

Applying analytics to visual data is complex. However, we now have the processing power, bandwidth, data storage capacity, and computing ability to enable fast, reliable analysis to a standard that makes it commercially viable. McKinsey expects video analytics to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 50 percent over the next five years.

Adding analytics and cloud storage to cameras provides the ability to spot anomalies that we are unable to identify with our own eyes. For example, in health and well-being alone there are many opportunities, such as:

• A camera trained on a patient in a hospital with the right analytics can now spot irregular breathing or an irregular pulse.
• Cameras are being used in care situations to monitor individuals to ensure they are being well-treated (with appropriate permissions).
• Qualified health and social care professionals are able to review footage for safeguarding purposes, and this can prove popular with both residents and staff.

Building the VIoT

The next step is to combine visual data with other data sets – from static data, such as grid references, to dynamic data, such as weather information.

This will create a vast new market – the Visual IoT (VIoT).  In other words, the integration of visual data into a uniform, IP-based data stream, combined with the capabilities and functions of a network of physical objects and devices.

In this way, cameras can be turned into super-charged sensors providing data that can then be acted upon, such as identifying that a car with a certain numberplate is allowed to enter a given area, which automatically opens the gate.

The potential is huge, and could revolutionise traffic management, and the reporting of crimes or accidents. For example, when an individual with a VIoT device enters a certain area, by previous agreement their data could be aggregated with that of others to create an accurate picture of an event.

For a motorway accident, combining data from road cameras and in-vehicle routing systems would pinpoint the precise location and help first responders to arrive more quickly. Meanwhile, adding visual data from drivers’ dashcams (with permission) could add unique views of the area around an incident.

Combining visual data with analytics can provide insight into both what is happening and why things happen, together with the ability to anticipate what might happen next.

Consider the control centres used by emergency services to monitor cameras in city centres. Adding analytics and machine intelligence would enable them to identify impending problems and send resources to defuse a situation before it escalates. The same process could identify potential risky or suspicious behaviour at transport hubs and other public spaces.

There is also tremendous potential for smart city initiatives that use existing camera data to improve the local environment. For example, NVIDIA is developing an intelligent video analytics platform for smart cities, which will apply deep learning techniques to video streams. Applications include public safety, traffic management, and resource optimisation.

Safeguarding privacy and GDPR

The big issue, of course, is privacy, but technologies such as facial and behaviour recognition can be used to reduce human involvement to a minimum. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides additional protection, as it includes provisions for how visual data is collated and used in applications that apply AI, analytics, and deep learning techniques to that data. There are also applications in sectors such as the environment that will not involve individuals at all.

Provisions such as privacy by design, Privacy Impact Assessments, and the appointment of a data protection officer will be mandatory for public authorities and any organisation whose core activities require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale. There are also applications in sectors such as the environment that will not involve individuals at all.

By providing information that is not available in any other way, visual data will enable the IoT to bring even more benefits to all our lives. More information is available in the white paper Visual IoT: where the IoT, cloud and big data come together.

Internet of Business says: This opinion piece and the link to an external white paper have both been provided by Cloudview, and not by our independent editorial team.

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