Thinxtra provides Sigfox connectivity to IoT projects down under

Thinxtra, an IoT specialist that operates the Sigfox IoT network in Australia and New Zealand, has this week announced details of two new projects it is working on in the region.

First, Thinxtra is partnering in a joint venture with Tasmania-based telco Tasmanet to build a dedicated IoT network that will cover 95 percent of the island state’s population (albeit a relatively modest 520,000 people) before the end of 2017.

Second, the company is providing the connectivity for a new IoT-based security product from ATF Services, a company that specialises in protecting construction sites from theft and vandalism, with products including temporary fencing and video surveillance.

Sigfox’s unlicensed spectrum connectivity competes directly with LoRaWAN IoT connectivity from the LoRa Alliance. But licensed spectrum technology Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is often favoured by telcos, who already own the spectrum and can roll out the technology through software updates to existing base stations.

Read more: Ulster University rolls out Sigfox-based IoT network

Tasmania calling

The new IoT network in Tasmania will enable the use of smart meters, temperature probes for aquaculture and GPS trackers for agricultural assets. The project involves rolling out up to 55 communications towers across Tasmania by the third quarter of this year, according to Thinxtra, with Hobart-based Tasmanet providing access to its towers, its network for backhaul and engineers for ongoing maintenance and support of the sensor network.

This will make Tasmania the first Australian state to be “fully IoT-ready”, according to Thinxtra’s network deployment director, Sam Sharief.

“I cannot understate how big this is for Tasmania – it’s going to be huge, it’s going to empower entrepreneurs,” added Tasmanet managing director Joel Harris.

In addition to use cases in Tasmania’s agricultural and aquacultural industries, he envisages devices working in community support establishments, allowing caregivers to wear devices capable of picking up information about patients’ whereabouts and well being. Tasmanet also proposes to provide schools with equipment on a free or low-cost basis, so that pupils can learn coding and develop their own sensors for whatever purpose they choose.

In January this year, a report from management consultancy Deloitte said that Tasmania’s economy is “doing OK”, but that the perennial problems of low job numbers and slow population growth show no signs of abating.

Read more: Australian start-up Freestyle to deploy smart water meters in South Korea

Tackling building-site robberies

In the second project announced this week, Thinxtra has worked with ATF Australia on the ATF Intelligent Wireless Alarm to tackle the rising problem of theft from construction sites. Other technology partners on the project include Microsoft and Melbourne-based digital consultancy Two Bulls.

The ATF Intelligent Wireless Alarm provides monitoring for up to 12 months on 4 AA batteries, according to ATF Services. It can be mounted in indoor or outdoor environments and is equipped with four sensors that detect movement, vibration, and changes in sound and light. When triggered by a thief, for example, it will activate a flashing red warning light and a buzzer alarm. Company employees, meanwhile, will instantly receive an alert regarding the activation on their smartphone, via the accompanying app.

The product is underpinned by the ATF Cloud platform, hosted on Microsoft Azure and designed on top of Microsoft’s Service Fabric to support millions of concurrently connected devices.

Building site theft is apparently a big problem in Australia, although recent figures are hard to come by. Back in 2008, a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that 39 percent of residential builders were affected by theft or vandalism at their building sites. Of those, two-thirds had experienced more than one incident. Sixty-one percent meanwhile had experienced the theft of raw materials, while 46 percent had experienced the loss of small hand-held tools.

Said Brett Shoemaker, Microsoft Australia’s cloud and enterprise business group leader: “ATF Services identified a major challenge facing its clients and has developed an intelligent, scalable and resilient solution that will deliver solid returns on investment by ensuring construction sites are secured and projects meet crucial deadlines.”

Read more: Australian construction firm uses IoT for ‘smart helmets’ which keep workers safe

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VitalConnect raises $33 million for its remote patient monitoring tech

VitalConnect, a San Francisco-based company that develops wearable sensors for the healthcare industry, has raised $ 33 million in its latest investment round.

The company’s Series C equity financing round was led by new investors MVM Life Science Partners and Baxter Ventures, the venture capital arm of Baxter International.

With this money, the firm will further commercialise its remote monitoring platform and work towards developing new solutions for healthcare scenarios.

Read more: HIMSS17: US healthcare industry connects dots between AI, personalized care and precision medicine

Pioneering tech

Positioned as the firm’s leading product, the Vital Patch wearable biosensor is capable of monitoring and recording eight patient vital signs continuously.

This lightweight, wireless, adhesive patch is integrated with cloud-based software and analytics so doctors can constantly monitor the condition of patients.

It doesn’t cause any discomfort to the patient and provides caregivers with an insight into their health, helping them to make the best medical decisions.

The patch and platform are already being rolled out in hospitals across the US and other locations around the world. Results have already shown high patient satisfaction and improved economics, the company claims.

Read more: Healthcare: The IoT doesn’t need no AI hype

Transforming healthcare

Dr. Nersi Nazari, chairman and CEO of VitalConnect, said that wearable biosensors are capable of transforming the medical world and that his firm is a key part of this.

“The integration of wearable biosensors into existing and emerging healthcare environments will change the care paradigm within hospitals as well as enable virtual care opportunities that were never before possible,” he said.

“Biosensors, when paired with sophisticated data analytics platforms, have the unique opportunity to enable better care for patients while reducing costs for hospitals – a win for both patients and providers.”

Read more: Healthcare professionals hit by Internet of Things reality check

High praise

Anne Sissel, vice president and head of Baxter Ventures, praised the company.“VitalConnect provides an innovative biosensor and monitoring solution to enable predictive and personalized patient care,” she said.

“Baxter Ventures is pleased to invest in VitalConnect and support its innovative approach for improving patient care.”

Dr. Stephen Reeders, founder of MVM, is to join the VitalConnect board of directors as the part of the deal, with a remit to help the company grow globally.

He said: “MVM has been looking for some time for a wireless technology that can deliver better care for patients and a high return on investment for providers, across a range of care environments. We have found it in VitalConnect.”

Read more: Scalpel, clamp, VR headset: A surgeon’s quest to fix healthcare

The rise of health wearables

Phil Brunkard, CIO of local government and health at BT, said wearables are transforming healthcare. “Devices with sensors worn by patients can collect data on blood pressure or oxygen levels, glucose levels, sleep patterns and coagulation rates,” he said.

“The connected medical wearables and even implants can also check patients are taking their prescribed medicines and perhaps even administer drugs too”.

“The potential to integrate wearable patient monitoring devices into existing patient care record systems, healthcare diagnostic and prescription systems would also make it easier to track patient recovery and health outcomes.”

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Cisco looks to tackle IoT failure with new IoT Operations Platform

Networking giant Cisco has launched an IoT platform aimed at making deployments easier and has partnered with Microsoft Azure to better connect edge devices.

The company outlined its new platform, Cisco IoT Operations Platform, at the company’s IoT World Forum in London.

The product, according to company executives, should help customers get past the proof-of-concept hurdle to successfully deploy IoT systems.

That’s important, they say, because as a survey from the company released earlier this week revealed, 60 percent of IoT projects don’t make it past the proof-of-concept stage and, of those that do, only around one-quarter (26 percent) were considered a complete success.

That’s down to two reasons, according to Cisco. First, IoT projects are complex, because of the need to integrate IoT devices along with existing networking technologies, data-gathering tools and back-end computing resources in new ways.

Second, many companies suffer from a lack of internal expertise to overcome these challenges. In particular, these projects require IT and operational technology (OT) teams to collaborate closely, something they haven’t always done in the past.

Read more: Six out of ten IoT projects fail at trial stage, says Cisco

Real world stands in the way of IoT

Rowan Trollope, general manager of Cisco’s IoT and applications unit, described the IoT Operations Platform in a blog post as a response to these challenges.

“With current tools, there’s not enough technical talent to get most projects to make the leap from prototype to production. There’s not enough capacity or reliability in the network, either,” he writes.

“Without a coherent set of tools like this, the real world will continue to get in the way of IoT deployments.”

As Trollope describes it, the new product will help companies overcome these issues, by providing:

Connection management at scale. New tools, Trollope claims, will make it easier to spin up and maintain huge fleets of connected devices.

Fog computing. This is focused on edge computing, making sure that data processing and device control happens “at the right place for each job, especially as the needs of jobs change in real time.”

Data delivery. These are tools for filtering and distribution of data, with the aim of helping companies analyse and act on it.

Read more: SAS, Cisco claim first platform for IoT analytics at the edge

Microsoft partnership

At the same event, Cisco announced that it will partner with Microsoft to connect its Azure IoT suite to Cisco Fog deployments.

“For the many businesses already using Microsoft Azure to build and run their IoT applications – and for those looking for a cloud platform to do so – this will enable customers to use the platforms they love, while bringing them added value through an integrated solution,” said Macario Namie, head of IoT strategy at Cisco Jasper. It’s about getting outcomes, he added, in the “fastest, least complex way.”

Cisco and Microsoft already have a long history of collaboration in many areas including IoT, he added. For example, the Cisco Jasper platform is already integrated into the Azure IoT hub and, earlier this year, Cisco announced the Cisco Integrated System for Microsoft Azure stack, for customers who want the benefits of cloud in an on-premise environment.

Read more: Microsoft unveils Azure IoT Edge at Build 2017 conference

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Consent to data collection and the IoT

In a contributed article for Internet of Business, Kristina Holt, a  senior associate at law firm Pinsent Masons law discusses why consent is not as insurmountable a barrier to the IoT as it seems. 

Have a discussion with a business about IoT and it won’t be long before its perceived biggest challenge comes up: consent.

At a recent Internet of Moving Things event (part of the PETRAS initiative), this was the recurring theme. Can we really expect a driver of an autonomous vehicle to read thorough epic consent forms while on the go? How is it possible to get informed, unambiguous, freely given consent at high speed, on the move, and still allow the IoT universe to operate?

What if we wanted our connected vehicle to be able to order milk from the supermarket with a remote payment from our bank while driving home? There will be a transfer of personal data from the car to both the bank (to release funds) and the supermarket to order the milk.

Would the individual have to consider and give consent to each release of information while driving their car? Could they really be said to be concentrating on giving proper consent in these circumstances?

What if the answer is, possibly, that consent would not really be needed at all…?

Providing services

The consent of consumers is not always needed in order to process their personal data. One alternative basis for personal data processing is where the processing is necessary for the performance of a contract with the individual.

An example where this might arise is where a business needs to processes a customer’s data to supply services to that person that they have requested. It also includes steps taken at their request before entering into a contract.

For example, an individual may send a request via an app on their connected car to buy some milk from the supermarket which they will collect on their way home. The transfer of their personal data from the car to the bank and the supermarket is necessary for performance of the contract – if the data is not sent they will not get the milk. The data needs to be sent in order to supply the service requested. Therefore this is not a question of consent.

Another alternative basis is if the processing is in the “legitimate interests” of the data controller. A private-sector organization, can process personal data without consent if it has a genuine and legitimate reason (including commercial benefit), unless this is outweighed by harm to the individual’s rights and interests.

For instance, the supermarket might store and analyse the data received from the individual. It realises that a request for milk comes from this person every Tuesday at around 6pm. The supermarket might use this information to send message to the individual on Tuesday at 5pm suggesting that they may want milk today. The person did not ask for this message (which would be a form of marketing) but it provides a commercial benefit to the supermarket while (arguably) does not harm the individual.

Public interest

There are other reasons for processing which are concerned with the wellbeing of individuals or the public at large. You can process data if it is necessary for performance of a task in the public interest and if there is some underpinning UK legislation.

An example might be legislation designed to direct connected and autonomous vehicles in a way that was most efficient for traffic flow.

Continuing our example, one particular Tuesday evening there may have been an accident causing gridlock in the streets around the supermarket. As a result, a centralized traffic management system might be able to direct the person’s milk order to another store and suggest that they take that route home instead.

As we have seen, consent may not be as urgent a concern as many IoT-focused organizations seem to believe.

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AT&T gives wings to Red Bull IoT project

Telco AT&T has announced it will connect up to 1 million Red Bull-branded beverage coolers around the world.

In the background, IoT technologies will be used to track and manage the supply and demand of drinks to these coolers – or fridges, to our UK audience – maintaining a steady flow of syrupy, highly caffeinated beverages to the fatigued and/or hungover.

Read more: AT&T fires up LTE-M network in the US

Data flows

AT&T technologists and developers at the AT&T Foundry centers, in Plano, Texas and Palo Alto, California, which specialize in tech innovation, have worked closely with the team at Red Bull and its partners on this project.

The data produced by coolers will help ensure that Red Bull drinks are kept cold and will identify any issues with the coolers, in some cases even predicting an issue before it occurs, according to the company.

Alerts from coolers will mean that workers no longer need to check the status of each unit manually, with data provided on performance, temperature and location.

The data also provides what AT&T refers to as ‘shopper frequency insight’. In other words, it will be possible to see when a fridge door has been opened and closed. AT&T doesn’t make it clear whether similar data on a drink being removed from a fridge and placed in a trolley will be collected.

“Each time a connected cooler door opens and closes, an embedded monitor collects data and on regular intervals send the data via the AT&T Global SIM. The AT&T Control Center and AT&T IoT Platform (Flow and M2X) process the data from each cooler,” says the company release.

Read more: Shoppermotion uses “previously unavailable” IoT data to transform retail

B2B focus

“This is another great example of collaboration and innovation to create real value for our customers. It streamlines the processes, creates visibility and improves operations, heling drive significant cost savings and return on investment,” said Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of business solutions and international at AT&T.

AT&T, like other telcos, is working hard to build up IoT business-to-business deals, as more traditional areas of its retail business decline. The company is a sponsor of Red Bull Racing, the Formula 1 team owned by the Austria-based drinks company, which may have given it an ‘in’ on the deal.

In April, AT&T announced it had lost 191,000 contract mobile customers during its first quarter, compared to a 129,000 gain in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Likewise, rival Verizon lost 307,000 retail post-paid mobile subscribers in the first quarter, down from 640,000 additions for the year-ago period.

For both companies, and others, IoT-focused business from other companies is a good way to go.

Read more: Retail IoT deployment to take off in 2018, says JDA/PwC report

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OSIsoft SAP tool kills the ‘data janitor’

SAP’s Sapphire Now 2017 conference in Orlando is now behind us, but it’s always interesting to pick up some of the tastier morsels of partner and affiliate news that get overlooked during the heat of keynote fever.

Take, for example, OSIsoft, an SAP partner specializing in operational intelligence with several fingers in the IoT pie. The company used its appearance at the SAP show to demo a new version of its product, SAP HANA IoT Integrator.

If SAP HANA is essentially an expanded notion of a database with extreme in-memory power extensions to allow it to act as an ‘analytics software appliance’ in its own right, with a columnar-based (as opposed to row-based) data store, then it is already engineered (in theory at least) for speed of data throughput.

What OSIsoft appears to have done is to put what might be called high-fidelity data streaming capabilities into the burger mix. This way, SAP HANA can consume both operational and transactional data at the same time – actually HANA is inarguably good at doing this already, so OSIsoft needs to add an extra splash of secret sauce.

Read more: SAP shifts gears of IoT into business ERP

Secret IoT silo sauce

That sauce then, if it does indeed exist, is just that little bit more IoT-centric than the purposes for which SAP HANA may have been originally envisioned.

Software functions inside SAP HANA IoT Integrator by OSIsoft (it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) works to break apart data silos and automate the data ingestion process from different ‘things’.

In real operational terms, this means being able to splice apart and differentiate data coming from machinery, SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems used to monitor plant equipment, IoT gateways and other operational devices into SAP applications.

So, in other words, SAP HANA IoT Integrator cleans, augments, shapes and transmits data from OSIsoft’s PI System (an operational intelligence system that connects sensor-based data, operations and the people that have to run live systems) for use and consumption in SAP HANA, SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service and other SAP Leonardo solutions.

Read more: Finger Food organises IoT augmented reality project – in a brewery

Streaming dynamism is the new black

Using this software, financial departments can obtain production data across multiple plants from the OSIsoft PI System and combine it with sales and shipping data to analyze productivity, for example. Supply chain departments, likewise, can use the solution to fuse real-time data more easily into shipping schedules.

The first version of the integration technology, which debuted in 2015, was designed to harvest OSIsoft PI System data at intervals created by users – for example, every minute or every fifteen minutes. The new version provides flexibility to send data whenever new data is generated or in pre-determined timeframes, helping ensure that users can choose the most efficient view into their operations – this, logically, is why ‘streaming dynamism’ and ‘automation’ are the new black.

Read more: Dunelm boosts supply chain operations with IoT and SAP

Killing the data janitor

“Data scientists often spend more than 50 percent of their time on ‘data janitor’ tasks like preparing and organizing data and it’s often the least enjoyable part of their work. As a result, big data and digital transformation often can take far longer and cost far more than necessary,” said Aaron Pratt, director of IoT global channels at OSIsoft. “We’re very excited to be working with SAP to simplify the process and give more people the ability to tap into the vital signs of their company.”

As an additional note, we hear that SAP HANA IoT Integrator by OSIsoft has already been adopted in several industries including renewables, oil and gas and manufacturing. Just to be even more helpful, OSIsoft and SAP partners including Capgemini and Critigen have built additional use cases… which is nice.

Editorial disclosure: No janitors, domestic engineering staff or industrial data cleaning & preparation professionals were hurt in the production of this article.

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ENISA works with industry on IoT cybersecurity requirements

The EU Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), an advisory body for the European Union (EU), has been working with several European semiconductor vendors to come up with baseline requirements for security and privacy in IoT devices.

ENISA, which supports the EU and its member states in being able to prepare and improve on network and information security, has joined forces with Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics to come up with a common position on cybersecurity in a new paper.

The paper focuses on four main areas that are currently debated at the EU level: standardisation and certification; security processes and services; security requirements and implementation; and the economic dimensions.

In the paper, ENISA calls on the European Commission (EC) to define a policy framework for ensuring minimal security requirements for connected devices. It believes that the development of European security standards needs to become more efficient and adapt to the new circumstances that have come about because of IoT. Based on those requirements, it suggests a European scheme for certification and the development of an associated ‘trust label’.

Read more: No more security through obscurity for IoT device makers

Mandatory staged requirements

The paper also urges the commission to ensure that reliable security processes and services are being developed to support industry in implementing security features in their products, and to encourage the development of mandatory staged requirements for security and privacy in IoT – including some minimal requirements.

In addition, ENISA wants the EC to create a level playing field for cybersecurity and for it to look into incentives, similar to the Digital Security Bonus, in order to reward good security practices.

“Trusted solutions and a common defined level for the security and privacy of connected and smart devices is both recommended and needed, to allow Europe to reap the benefits of soon to become ubiquitous technologies,” ENISA’s executive director Udo Helmbrecht said.

“As such, standardisation and certification have been identified as a priority, to accelerate the level playing field for the entire industry and reflect the trust of citizens, consumers and businesses in the connected environment,” he added.

Read more: More than two-thirds of consumers are concerned about IoT device security

Yet another standard?

While there could be some concern that this is yet another set of IoT standards from another group organisations, Rob Bamforth, analyst at IT advisory organization Quocirca, believes that it is inevitable that IoT will have a number of standards published over time – some will be geography-specific, while others will be tied to verticals or use cases.

He believes that the ENISA paper is a step in the right direction.

“Security, or rather our trust, is fundamental for IoT, and it requires a minimum baseline at all levels,” he said

“It might seem like extra layers of complexity, but without trust in security, user adoption will quickly evaporate. It’s a bit like making everyone abide by and agree what the three pins of electrical plugs do and having a fuse and other components. Although, even with that example, regional differences may apply, so EU standardisation alone will not be enough,” he said.

Ian Hughes, analyst of IoT at IT advisory company 451 Research agrees, stating that consortia and bodies will start to work together as their streams cross, helping to reduce complexity and reach consensus in the long run, even if it currently appears like a duplication of effort.

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Neo Technology CEO: Smart homes won’t work without smart data

In a contributed article for Internet of Business, Emil Eifrem, CEO and co-founder of graph database company Neo Technology, presents his vision of how to create interconnected, smart physical environments.

Smart homes offer the promise of fine-grained, real-time operational control, and their impact on our common urban environments is already being felt in multiple areas, from waste and power management to entertainment to public safety.

Consumer interest and acceptance of the technology is rising, with 52 percent of all respondents to a recent US survey planning to buy a smart device in the next two years. Of those who already own smart devices, 84 percent said they may make another smart purchase in the next two years.

Three-quarters of German internet users, meanwhile, say they would consider purchasing smart-home technology.

However, there is still a long way to go to deliver smart environments beyond these isolated pockets. A smart home will need sensors, networks, devices, cameras, power grids and smart water and power meters to reach its true potential, for example. And they will only really be effective if these are all linked up – meshed together as a connected Internet (network) of many things (devices) – by a third party.

In other words, an IoT structure will have to underpin any smart home projects. When a new item of equipment or sensor comes online, it will want automatically to seek local controllers or other devices that it needs to listen to or share data with, while the powering up or down of just one individual sensor may create or end dozens of connections – maybe even hundreds.

Read more: UK homes to get smart meter boost as National Grid selects software provider

Connections and complexity

The question then becomes how do we manage this density of connections and complexity if we are serious about going smart on a metropolitan scale?

We need to go back to that network to see the answer. Most IoT-based applications deliver by making one or more data sets link to one another. However useful connections like this are more than lines between entities; they need to include useful information, such as direction, type, quality, weight, and more.

While it’s true that simple smart home IoT problems could be handled by a relational database, they’re not an especially satisfactory fit, as they represent data as tables, not networks, and queries strain a data structure not designed to map connections.

That’s why increasingly observers think that level of device IoT functionality can only be implemented in a new form of database as an integral part of each prospective smart home network.

Graph databases could be the ideal option here, as they process complex, multidimensional networks of connections at speed.

Read more: GE & Nest partner to protect smart homes from malfunctioning ovens

Smart Telia

A case in is telco Telia Company and its new graph-based smart buildings initiative. The company has created a new digital ecosystem and platform for broadband connections called Telia Zone, which has 1 million plus homes signed up and is currently being rolled out to a further 930,000 households – with smart home management a major feature of the service.

With Telia Zone, the home owner can detect when people are entering or leaving the house, setting triggers and rules for adjusting heating, lighting – even appropriate musical accompaniment, like your favourite musical track greeting you on entry, among many other services.

It’s a genuinely innovative smart home service. And it’s all based on graphs. According to the team behind Telia Zone, most of the APIs needed are relationships between different types of events or different types of data, and graph databases are the best way to connect up nodes.

Graphs can easily model these relationships, plus they are also highly flexible; Telia Company does not know exactly which APIs it will go on to develop, but graphs can create new connections on the fly and make new APIs out of any that may become desirable. In addition, Telia Company wants to explore AI (artificial intelligence) and Machine Learning, and graph is also the best way to handle that.

Read more: Smart home product manufacturers must target customers in different ways

Data at scale

Given the overwhelming amount of data and connections that accumulate over even the shortest period of time in any IoT-powered smart building scenario, traditional databases will struggle to get any coherent, overarching view on what’s going on. In the Telia Zone case, the database is expected to have 13 million devices as individual nodes, with 20,000 to 30,000 events per second.

That’s the kind of scale that the smart home owner will demand – suggesting that it’s graph-based IoT management that will turn out to be the shortest way to get us to the smart home future we all want.

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Time to get moving on GDPR preparation, lawyers warn

A year tomorrow, on 25 May 2018, the regulatory environment for privacy in the European Union will become much harsher with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This will affect any business operating in the bloc, not just those that are based there. But how far along should companies be in their preparations today?

The GDPR will certainly have a huge impact, not least because it will allow regulators to fine companies up to 4 percent of their global annual turnover if they break the rules. These rules include heavier requirements for security and data breach notifications, and the need for any company handling significant amounts of personal data to have a data protection officer.

There will also be a massive shift of power towards the data subject: people will be able to restrict the profiling that companies do on them, demand the deletion of their personal data, and insist that companies let them take their data with them so they can switch to competitors.

Read more: Talend: GDPR compliance threats in the IoT

Not even aware of it

However, nearly a quarter of European companies aren’t even aware that the GDPR is coming, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by IDC Research on behalf of security vendor ESET (which, naturally, offers consultancy services for businesses struggling with their preparations).

Of the 700 companies surveyed, 22 percent knew nothing of the GDPR, a little over half knew about it but weren’t sure how it affected them, and 59 percent were not “fully GDPR-compliant”.

Another recent survey, this time conducted by Vanson Bourne for mainframe firm Compuware, suggested that large American companies are far more prepared for what’s coming. In a survey of 400 CIOs from large US companies, 88 percent claimed to be “well-briefed” on the GDPR. With almost all saying they held personally identifiable information on EU customers, 60 percent had “detailed plans in place” to comply with the regulation.

Read more: Three simple steps to secure your IoT system

Details, details…

“When I was in the US last fall, I was already surprised into how much detail privacy people from US companies had already dived, as far as the GDPR is concerned,” German tech lawyer Niko Härting told Internet of Business. “Generally speaking, in big companies the GDPR is dealt with as a compliance issue, and compliance is obviously taken even more seriously in the US than in Europe.”

In Germany, Härting said, those most prepared for the GDPR are companies that are “used to being very protective when it comes to data”, such as insurance firms and those in the financial sector. “In spite of all the alerts from tons of lawyers and advisers, the chances are that [it’s] a small minority of smaller companies that have actually started to look into what they have to do in order to be compliant under the GDPR,” he said.

“[Businesses] should already have a plan, ideally, and have done some groundwork to create that roadmap,” said Monika Kuschewsky, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs’s Brussels office. “Demand has certainly picked up in recent months significantly, but there’s still a lot of companies who haven’t come around and started doing something. They’re still considering if there’s anything they need to do and they’ve been very slow.”

Read more: IoT, Big Data and why you should care about data copies

Achievable goal

Time to panic? Not according to Elle Todd, head of digital and data at CMS London, who told Internet of Business: “There’s still a year to go and, with some good project planning, it’s all achievable.”

Here’s what that planning should entail. “Having an action plan is the starting point – scoping out the things that need to be done and putting them in order, bearing in mind their logical sequence,” said Todd. “You have to create a project plan for it, looking at the different business functions – the actions HR will need to take, the actions marketing will need to take, a series of projects with very clear actions.”

Businesses in the IoT field “need to get a sense of what data it is they’re collecting and start thinking about privacy by design, and what they can do with existing devices that have all these sensors, because it may be difficult to change them to make them GDPR-compliant,” said Kuschewsky. “In some cases, highly complex technical arrangements may need to be configured or put in place.”

According to Härting, companies in the sector should start with a risk assessment, as “typically the collection of data from connected devices will be considered as a high-risk way of data processing, and for such high risk the GDPR requires a risk assessment”.

Read more: Search Lab finds numerous flaws in AVTech cameras and DVRs

Finalised guidelines still pending

However, this is one of several areas where businesses preparing for the GDPR have a problem: the Article 29 Working Party, the body through which EU data protection authorities try to harmonize their approaches, is yet to issue finalised guidelines on several aspects of GDPR compliance, including what impact assessments should look like. Some national authorities have issued preliminary guidance, and the working party has put a draft out for comment, but businesses can’t yet be entirely sure what it is they’re supposed to do.

“Even existing guidance leaves a lot of grey areas,” said Kuschewsky. “It gives some flexibility, but businesses also want legal certainty.” Assessments aside, the regulators also still need to issue finalised guidelines on certification, and on notice and consent – although, as Härting pointed out, with the IoT “getting valid consent is in many cases difficult, so the advice is anyway not to rely on consent, but to ensure there is either a contract or legitimate [business] interest to support you” as the legal basis for data processing.

Read more: Hackers used flaws in IoT devices to take down university network

Another wildcard awaits

The other big wildcard is the EU’s new ePrivacy (PEC) Regulation, which is still wending its way through the legislative process, but  is also supposed to come into force alongside the GDPR, with the same level of fines. This regulation is about electronic communications and, as Todd pointed out, it “specifically calls out machine-to-machine” communications.

“The GDPR doesn’t give a complete picture of everything you need,” Todd warned. “[PEC] includes detail around direct marketing consent, so you couldn’t come up with a complete plan for the GDPR, regarding marketing, if you don’t have PEC. Regarding IoT, there are provisions around the confidentiality of communications and the use of metadata that we don’t have a full picture of. We have the draft… but we don’t have a definitive answer about when we will get that, and whether it will definitively come into force on 25 May 2018 as well.”

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Google Cloud IoT Core gets NXP’s support

Dutch embedded application specialist NXP Semiconductors has this month noted that its Android Things platform now supports the new Google Cloud IoT Core.

A cloud service from Google, Cloud IoT Core is described as a fully managed service technology to connect, manage and ingest data from millions of globally dispersed devices.

According to Google, “Cloud IoT Core, in combination with other services on Google Cloud IoT platform, provides a complete solution for collecting, processing, analyzing and visualizing IoT data in real time to support improved operational efficiency”

Alongside NXP, core partners for Google in this arena include Sierra Wireless, Microchip and Intel.

Developed in what is described as ‘early partnership’ with Google, the NXP Android Things platform features an i.MX applications processor. The platform was designed for RAD (Rapid Application Development) connected Android-based IoT device applications.

“Cloud IoT Core was designed to simplify digital transformation by helping customers use Google Cloud data analytics and machine learning capabilities and act on insights, in real time, from operational data that was previously inaccessible,” said Adam Massey, director of strategic technology partners at Google Cloud.

Read more: Google launches Cloud IoT Core, a managed IoT service

IoT data tool selection

The Google Cloud IoT Core includes services such as Pub/Sub, Dataflow, Bigtable, BigQuery and Data Studio to provide a zone for collecting, processing, analyzing and visualizing IoT data in real time. The goal here, as always, is to improve operational efficiency in IoT devices.

“Driving smart experiences at a large scale requires an ecosystem of advanced end node devices that seamlessly and securely connect with one another,” said Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager of the microcontroller business line at NXP. “Supporting the new Google Cloud IoT Core empowers developers to create devices with more reach, security, awareness and capability that is demanded by the IoT market.”

Other key features here include end-to-end security using certificate-based authentication. The platform also incorporates the use of ‘downstream’ analytic systems by integrating with Google Big Data Analytics and ML services.

Read more: NXP: How chips work in the IoT

Serverless infrastructure

There are (arguably) some goodies to get excited about here, assuming of course that embedded semiconductor analytics connectivity architecture causes the appropriate levels of psychic energy to flow to your chakras.

Serverless infrastructure is key for scalability and flexibility and this will (arguably) be discussed as a defining trend for IoT deployments in the coming months. Serverless computing does of course still feature servers, because that’s what cloud services run on, always.

The difference with serverless is that the cloud management layer (in this case provided by Google and integrated with NXP) is responsible for the software code execution model as it operates.

This means that software ‘functions’ (calls for data, drives to ‘write’ data to various places and so on) can be handled by the cloud provider. This means, in theory at least, that the software application developer can focus more directly on the task level of the IoT application in hand, rather than its relationship with the (cloud) server it relies upon for its existence.

NXP has also engineered role-level data control here, which is also a cause for pleasure. This means that we can apply tighter IAM (Information Access Management) roles to devices to control access to devices and data. We can also enjoy NXP’s provision of automatic device deployment to handle  the registration, deployment and operation of devices.

Still not excited? Wait until you see the motherboard.

Read more: Rackspace: IoT without analytics & cloud is a non-starter

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