The tipping point and seeking Mr. Spock’s Tricorder…

Malcolm Gladwell’s exceptional work the “Tipping Point.” When does CPS reach that point? Analysts say it has already passed. That the glass once tipping is now tipped. Is the glass half empty or half full? It doesn’t matter because somebody has a mess to clean up.

10 billion devices (or more) deployed. If we consider the reality of those 10 billion devices for a moment, it really is many more than 10 billion. My iPhone today does the work of five devices I used to carry with me all the time when I was traveling in the early part of this century (that is still fun to say).

No more portable GPS. No more portable radio. No more splitters for car power ports. No more having to carry a small camera (ok I still do but that is more because there are still things a point and shoot can do that a cell phone struggles with). All of those devices are now replaced by one CPS device. I also get my work email and stay connected to the world around me. I can do more things with that device now than I could 10 years ago.

That got me thinking – what devices are next? I used to carry a portable Sirius-XM radio with me. I don’t anymore. I can use my iPhone as a portable radio and with many more options than the Sirius-XM radio offered me (while still listening to Sirius-XM). When I traveled for a week or more in the US I carried a portable car kit as well for that radio. It let me listen to my music wherever I was. Now, I just hit the app and away I go.

There are Tasers that look like simple battery packs for cellular phones. There are Friday night applications that require the user to log in every 15 minutes. If they don’t the place are notified and the users location is sent. Personal safety continues to expand. It would be nice to have the kill switch (once a phone is stolen you call, its deactivated and it will never work again because the IMEI is locked on the carrier networks). I think the area of personal safety and public safety will grow. Breathalyzer attached to the phone. can’t unlock the phone without blowing into it, can’t move more than 20 feet without an alarm going off or perhaps locking your car. All are things that could quickly reduce a number of problems (DUI and Date Rape are the two solutions automation could help prevent).

I’ve talked about continuation and home automation before but the world of personal interactive robotics systems will continue to expand. The first wave is already out, the next wave is coming. This area is ripe for growth.

There are so many ways this market for CPS is going to expand. I think back to the device I dreamed about owning as a young teenager. I wanted Mr. Spock’s tricorder. It is possible with minor attachments to complete most of the scans a tricorder could do with your cellular device. There are a few that can’t be done yet but I suspect they are coming. The cell phone though reduces the number of gadgets even Spock carried. I don’t need a communicator captain, my cell pheon does all of that and provides me with the information my Tricroder used to.

Oh brave new world…


Star Trek fan – Tricorder nut!

The data doesn’t matter if it arrives late.

Build your own sensors – it doesn’t take much. You can start with an Arduino board or the Intel Edison board (great marketing job Intel). Today you can get an entire computer with an embedded (and functioning OS) on a box not much bigger than a USB key.

The primary reception device is the variable. Today you can connect your laptop (Windows 10 has amazing support built in for IoT devices) or Android/Apple products. With the Android products your only limitation is the need for internal device components like Accelerometers.

Of course once you have all that data what do you do with it? Big Data is all the buzz, but the reality of big data is that it is simply data produced that cannot be consumed in the time needed for the data to be effective. Someone penetrated your network a week ago is in the end big data that is useless. In a week your entire portfolio of IP can be gone.

Personally I can read weather data. I argue with the TV weather people all the time. Why? I’ve spent years learning the nuances of weather data. I currently have two weather stations at my home. One that broadcasts to the internet and can be consumed by both cellular and remote network viewing. The other requires a direct USB connection. They are close to each other and usually vary by less than .1 degree. The information produced including weather trends by both units isn’t big data to me. But if you ask other people in my neighborhood, most likely that data is big data to them. They consume weather from the radio or TV, a 30 second blurb of what is coming. They don’t want to know the variance in the barometric pressure by the hour. They just want to know if it is going to rain or not. (or worse is it going to snow and snow a lot?)

We have sensors producing data, given the nature of data and the reality of who is viewing the data requires some level of processing. Audience is critical when you are talking about data. Who is going to consume the data you are producing?

The other side of the data produced is the coverage of that data. Weather data collected from my home impacts me, and my neighbors. Combined with 100 other weather stations as far away from me as 200 miles gives me a good picture of what weather is going to happen in my area in the next two – four hours. If I jump up to weather Satellite imagery (on my phone or tablet) I can project the weather out 12-24 hours and beyond. Like a mesh the more connections the data has the more complete it is.

Data that the human or system cannot process is big data. But big data that doesn’t have the coverage or isn’t compiled in time is also a problem. No mesh in the data, you run risks. Now the mesh shown is shown on purpose. The coverage of the data has to fill both the mesh itself and the holes in the mesh.

Someone is breaking into your physical network. Knowing what they are using to break in and how they are getting past your security is critical for the response. So being able to process that information quickly is a huge plus.

Personally I think the world of VR and network security are bound to come together. The ultimate tracking system is the human eye. Why? Unlike a computer tracking motion it can quickly determine the nature of the target. Inbound threat, then you need to respond. Inbound person seeking help, But it is all about making the data actionable. Today, I am going to watch football. Its going to rain the early am and I will relax until later in the day when it clears.


weather fanatic…

Tis the season to watch for little lights. They aren’t always holiday lights…


Not to be an alarmist or someone that is a little too concerned with security but…

If I wanted to get a camera into your house I would probably send you a nice gift like a Christmas Ornament (or 12, so that placement gave me a good view). Or I would send you a Teddy Bear with flowers or well you get the idea. Tis the season of giving but sometimes gifts have well problems.

If you consider there are going to be 50 billion CPS devices in less than 5 years, they aren’t going to all be visible. You won’t see them all and you won’t know they are there. So the first thing is turn off the guest wireless connection on your router. Sure its nice for family to connect during the holidays with no password, have it on for them but MAKE SURE IT IS OFF WHEN THEY LEAVE. Even at night turn it off.

By the by, not that I am paranoid but office parties? Is that an ornament I see before me or a camera watching the festivities and reporting back to HR? I am not paranoid by the way, just considering what is possible.

Interesting that electronic devices with known intent have lights to notify you they are on. Livescribe pens, video camera’s and so on have a light notifying you that they are currently active. Spy pens that have been all the rage (HD video in your pocket) do not have lights when they are on always.

Neither by the way do security cameras. Beyond not notifying you they are there, they also can record at night. They don’t need as much light as a human eye to record something that plays back well for the human eye.

Now that I think about it, if I were hiding a camera I would probably send it as a mantle clock. You would happily, having won the contest, with pride put it on your mantle. Then I can see everything in the main room of your house.

There were jokes for years about Nanny cams, but you can hide a camera anywhere. I guess the seasonal warning here is to be aware and pay attention to what is appearing in your house.

By the way pay attention in the mall as well, not all those boxes are innocent. Sometimes stores hide cameras as well. They focus on loss prevention this time of year – a lot.

Tis the season to wonder if someone else is looking over your should.


CPS Security Questioner…

The problem with images is that they can be kept forever….

Traffic cameras, and video surveillance systems are all over now. We don’t think about them much now. In the Washington DC area you stop thinking about them. Then you get a letter in the mail from DC, Virginia or Maryland informing you of the fact that one was on your way and you didn’t see it. So you didn’t slow down, or you pulled through a red light.

Eventually the on ground systems and flying systems will be integrated so that the trigger system is on the ground and the drone flying overhead knows to snap a picture of your license. The systems will not even be seen. Radar Detectors know they are there. But not everyone has one and they aren’t legal in all US States.

Of all the CPS devices deployed around us the on we were see and complain about (because of that letter and the resulting fine) are the traffic cameras. But there are many more devices taking pictures of us. Images that are kept and frankly (as I have argued in the past) aren’t owned by the system that took the picture.

Again, if I commit a crime or I break a law/statute my image during the commission of that act isn’t mine anymore. I get that. But if I don’t commit a crime or are part of a crime being committed that image remains mine. One of the CPS standards or even frankly laws that I would like to see is the legal clarification of when my image can be kept by another system.

This image is of a man who choose public life. He gave up the rights to the image so to speak. It is truly similar to what I write in my various blogs. I own the concept and the words but they are free to use. (as long as you attribute me for using them).

Note: I was once in a customer meeting. A competitor of my company was also there presenting. They presented a quote from my book as a value proposition of their company. I actually presented second and showed the rest of the quote from my book. Needless to say, they lost. Be careful when you don’t attribute quotes properly.

Reality is public figures give up some of their privacy and some ownership of images. Not all, and that is basically what I am calling for. What once was the problem of celebrities (paparazzi) and politicians (the news) is now the problem of everyone. Your ATM takes your picture. There is security footage of Malls and places of worship. Everywhere we go we are monitored, watched and the video captured. Who owns that image?

If there are specific acts that require me to give up my image I need to know what those are ahead of time. If I don’t consent than my image remains mine. Perhaps we can all wear badges that say keep my picture or get rid of my picture. That way the camera has a bar code reader that knows as long as no crime is committed the video of the don’t keep my picture people should be erased. Of course than everyone that wishes to omit a crime would wear a don’t keep my video badge so I guess that wouldn’t work.

Who owns my image?


The future of me…

The coming world of automatic connections…

Interconnection, integration and data are the basis and creation of CPS devices. Interconnection between CPS devices, integration of the devices and data. Lots of data, more data is produced every day by CPS devices than we realize.

So, CPS is the basis for a huge shift. Today we have the broad concept of Big Data (or as with IoT and CPS, more properly Data Analytics). Where a set of data produced is reviewed and ultimately becomes part of a new thing, the analyzed data.

CPS devices can reduce water waste, pollution and the impact of buildings. Empty floors don’t need lights. Empty offices should have lights that turn off. The top of buildings, where possible should house solar arrays.

But as we head into this CPS future what’s next? what lies just over the horizon? We can clearly see the path to 50 billion CPS devices. We can clearly see the path to Smart Cities. What then comes next? Beyond cities?

First off the integration across a number of devices (I called it continuation). Where conversations started in the home can move to the car, and vice versa. Conversations and meetings can transition without loss or impact between various systems.

The need for security grows radically when the connections are automatic. Once compromised the connections are forever compromised until they are reset or re-established. Home private cloud security becomes the enabling risk for corporate IT security. That device, connected to the home private and the car private cloud brings the risk into the enterprise.

Now the value that connection represents is massive. Its about productivity. Its about empowering workers to do more. So the IT security can’t say no to the expansion. They have to come up with ways to fix the problem.

I’ve argued for an NGO that would provide home, cellular and car security devices. The NGO would for a monthly fee provide you with baseline security. Automatic updates and up-to-date checks when your devices connect to enterprise systems. This NGO in conjunction with the City Broker and City Marketplace would give us peace of mind for what comes next.

Beyond the horizon is the reality of a fully connected world. Wearable, slayable and portable devices that connect to each other atomically and provide the information you need to be successful in your daily activities.

The world of connection.



Creating a Non Government Agency (NGO) to offer home private cloud security for all…(cheaply)!

Alice asked the cat which way should I go. The Cheshire Cat answered that depends on where you want to end up. Alice said I don’t know, the Cat said then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

Rule one, never ask directions of a Cheshire Cat.

Rule two, when asking a question loosely understand what you expect to gain from asking that question.

We are at a significant cross roads. The reality of CPS is that it is coming. The devices are in the market now. You can buy them, install them and run them in your home. You connect to your car and you connect to the internet. You connect to work from home and you connect from work to the internet. We are a world of connections now.

Now one the issues is there are more than two plans. Many more than two plans and options out there. So we need to take a look at the standards that exist and begin to make some hard choices.

I’ve heard from several people that in fact there are devices available now that offer home security. I’ve looked at several and there is one in particular I am waiting to receive as it holds the most promise (its called The Wedge). But reality is that I have some (although not a professional security person by any stretch) level of understanding of what security I need.

So we need standards for the expanding CPS world around us. Standards that make it easy to have basic security without having to engage a professional. Beyond that though, you run into problems. That is why I advocate the creation of a Non-Government Agency (NGO) that will deploy and manage the black box in your home network. They will modify the security rules and virus scanning of the box and will provide for a monthly fee, insurance against attacks.

Today these boxes are available and on the market but they are built and deployed by a commercial company. Not that I don’t trust commercial companies, I’ve worked for one since I left teaching. Its more that they are effectively market driven. That means that they respond to the market pressures. They would have to be profitable. That means they would need to charge more on a monthly basis and that would put the home network security out of the reach of many people. An NGO would be tasked with getting a box into every home. They would fail only in that there are people that would say I can do it myself.

The NGO could then have a device on the City Broker network that would authenticate the black box connecting. This reduces the requirements for the City Broker and provides safe internet. This isn’t going to stop hacking organizations. It is just going to make it a little harder than it is today.

When we get to 50 billion devices there are a number of things we have to think about. Having a security system deployed by the NGO would be one less thing. Then we can look at securing data in different ways so that it becomes harder to hack the data.

Perhaps Mr. Gates will fun the NGO to provide safe internet for all.


Safe Internet Proponent

Smart City: Lighthouse for the internet. Friend, safety and warning!

Once it represented after days and weeks of darkness that you were near home or near your destination. It also meant be careful because there was something near the lighthouse that was dangerous. Rocks, shoals and so on that would destroy your boat. The lighthouse was friend (you are near) and warning.

What is the lighthouse for Smart Cities? How will cities know that they are nearer Smart, than they were? It is not a revolution it is an evolution. First off there are 10 billion CPS devices deployed today. Many of those devices are talking a different language than the newer devices being deployed. The reality of integration will slow many Smart City projects in the short term.

The mythical tower of Babel reached to the sky. When it falls the human race picks up  many new languages and communication is fractured. While CPS doesn’t have a tower of Babel it does have many unique protocols. Moving to a single unification of communication will greatly light the way for Smart Cities and other automation projects. You see Smart Cities are a great benefit to people from the reality of CPS. But there are many other industries that will gain significant value. Supply chain management, the ability to know where your parts are days before you will need them. To know what is in the warehouse, on the shelves and what is moving out the door, as the items are sold. Restock what is selling, advertise what is not.

Yesterday I talked about step one being for Smart Cities to implement the City Broker and City Broker Catalog. That would then evolve into a City Broker Marketplace. Today I am wondering what the lighthouse is. Frankly, the lighthouse will light the way for Cities to find the Broker. The Broker will allow a small consistent revenue stream for the city. People will use the broker because it will reduce the tax load for the city overall.  What is the lighthouse that will bring our sailing cities safely into the City Broker Harbor?

It won’t be the City Broker itself. There will be a implementation and integration cost for the City Broker to be built and deployed. Yes, there will be a back end revenue stream for the City that ultimately could reduce taxes and pay for the broker but in the short run (12 months) this is a cost. The other side of the City Broker problem is the reality of what the City Broker would be. Today there are many software solutions that move to the “cloud broker” space. Some that focus on application migration or some that focus on creating application containers, and some that connect many clouds to one portal.

The City Broker would be a combination of application, cloud and material goods. A true marketplace that would offer organizations, companies and startups office supplies, cloud services and application reshooting services. All of this encompassed in the City Marketplace that would be offered as a Service Catalog.

Layer on top of all of this the “home private” and “personal” cloud security offerings and you have a City Broker. It would effectively take cities back to their roots. Why did people gather in groups? For Protection from things beyond their control. As the internet expands its reaches the elements of criminality increase as well.

Perhaps the City Broker will become a lighthouse for those on the internet. A safe haven, but also warning of the rocks below.



Step One City Broker. Step Two City Broker Marketplace. Step Three use your smart city!

On a clear day the infinite is revealed. It is just there on the horizon. The Smart City, waiting for us. Filled with new problems and solutions for old problems. What happens when you can’t connect to the Smart City of tomorrow?

First off there is an interesting modality that occurs, when connections are lost they can be tracked. notification can be sent by other methods. If your internet no longer functions you receive a text message. SMS operates on the cellular radio frequent not the data frequency. Or you get an email. Nothing is worse than the email you receive when you internet is back up notifying you that your internet is down, via email.

Are you willing to wait for your internet knowing that you won’t have to wait in line? I think most people will find the patience to wait for the internet connection to return. There is always the reality of those who delay until the last minute. They won’t be able to suffer the down connection. But that is more because they waited to the last minute.

The question now is when. In my humble opinion if is done. Its when now, when will the Smart City rise and deliver services? That when presents an interesting question. What happens first?

It isn’t luckily a chicken and egg question. It is an evolution not a revolution. Smart Cities will rise out of existing cities by automating services that people use and leverage. It will be the evolution of those services that makes the smart city. So what comes first?

What automated services or smart services would most benefit people? That is the problem. You see if you commute to work then traffic is the number one problem. If you have a small business than waiting in line for city services is the number one problem. Its about where your time is wasted that you apply the greatest value in time savings.

Personally (IMHO) I believe that Cities should adopt the City Broker and City Broker Marketplace first. The reason being is it’s a new consistent revenue stream. Get the money first, and then use it to automate the rest of the services. Where there is an initial cost for the city deploying a Cloud Broker and Service Catalog, that cost will be quickly offset by the small broker fee the city can charge. The incubation services the city can then offer small and startup businesses will increase the tax base quickly. So there is an upfront cost for the Broker, but in the end there is a lot of back end revenue.

Once the broker is up and paid for the city can expand its automation to many processes that are manual today. There are services that will always be manual. But there are many today that could be automated. Overtime as the Broker revenue pays for itself, the city can now begin to offer tax breaks to companies that support remote workers (Work From Home). This reduces the traffic issues and allows the city to apply resources to traffic problems that can be solved quickly.

Then the city can offer the black box security service. You can buy the network boxes today. They exist to protect your home network. They do not have security professionals on the other end building rules and blocking attacks specific to your geography. They are managed at a corporate level. With city security black boxes that are part of the city broker, the attacks can quickly result in law enforcement. The city can notify the authorities and shut down sites and other problems quickly.

Technology can change the world. Technology has already changed the world. Just over the horizon is an even bigger change coming. Your smart city #mysmartcity, making  your life easier.



(ideas presented in this blog are copyright Scott Andersen)

Continuing the Why of City Brokers…

Robert Frost wrote of the path less traveled and in taking that path was the all the better for it. That path beaten path that we often end up on, is often risky because we get run over and crushed. The less beaten path may be harder at first, but you don’t get run over!

So why start with a poetry lesson as part of a Smart City blog? First off I am veering off the path I’ve been taking for a long time and moving towards the concept of the City Broker. The impact of the City Broker may change both City Government and Cloud Computing forever.

First off the reality of incubation is a game changer. In offering a city of XYZ catalog that aggregates all the services that city can offer a startup into one place there is an amazing opportunity. (for more thoughts around this see my podcast). Imagine going to one site, managed by the City Broker, that would allow you to launch your business into the stratosphere.

Starting a business? What kind of funding do you need? As you fill out the various forms the City Broker can introduce you to VC firms that are affiliated with the City. Or direct to the City Sponsored forums on the various Crowd Funding sites. All supported by the city. It isn’t just aggregating Cloud Services. It would be aggregating all the services companies need. The city using its buying weight to reduce the cost of supplies for the business’s that live in the City Broker and City Broker Marketplace.

In my book the Syncverse I talked a lot about the concept of the Myverse. In the Myverse you, as the owner could easily add or remove services that would cached and available for your consumption. One of the services you could add would be the broad City Broker concept. Where the city would provide you with the services you traditionally searched on your own.

I also in the book included a government verse although I didn’t call it that. An interactive area where government could place useful information for people. With the new concept (not in the book but here on my blog) of the City Broker and Broker Marketplace, there is a game changing chance.

Yes the future is only one exit away.

City Brokers would allow organizations to build and share cloud services without worrying about who owns the brokerage. The people of the city would own the broker. The city would derive revenue from this, that would the city to reduce the tax base. Items could be offered in the Broker Marketplace at less than what you would pay for them normally because you aren’t ordering one. You are part of a city ordering 1,000,000. Instead of being a one off, and paying more, you would be part of a collective buying structure and one of many buying what you need.

The marketplace would also allow organizations to offer services within the market. Buy local is a theme heard often and with a Broker Marketplace we could extend that to food, and beyond. Buy local first, could be the new theme.

The future is just one exit away.

#mysmartcity – the path to City Brokers!



The Why of Smart Cities….

A long time reader emailed me on Friday. She said “wow you’ve mashed a lot of topics into your smart cities blogs, why?” Knowing the person it was more a question of the why behind rather than seeking rationale for what I had recommended. So without further ado, the why of all the mashing.

First off, we are talking about cities. People live in cities. In fact 1/2 the world’s population now lives in cities. That number is going to increase. The what and how of cities is also changing. In the days of feudal lords the city was a place of protection (and oppression). Keep the farmers in the walls to protect home. Keep them in the walls so they would do what they were told to do.

The digital city can be anywhere. You can be on vacation in Fiji and apply for a business license in New York City. So what are the components we are talking about? What are the many pieces that make a city smart?

It is an evolution not a revolution. Cities will in the next few years begging adding many services.

  1. City Broker: Why not offer a broker service and service catalog at the municipal level. The monetary stream isn’t huge but the city would be able to manage and support its citizens as we move to a digital world.
  2. City Market (Service Catalog): Why wouldn’t you want to create a service at the Smart City level that creates an incubation for small businesses to grow quickly. Every city is going to want to have an incubation system for small business and for startups. Offering services at the city level via a catalog will allow for these organizations to quickly start up and be productive. It will also benefit all the residents of the city by offering consistent lower cost goods. Large companies will benefit as well, they purchase equipment at a huge cost that they only use once a week. Now they can time share that equipment via the City Market to smaller non-competitive companies. They recoup some of their cost, the city gets a small revenue stream and the small company gets services they couldn’t afford in a non-Utility model.
  3. Personal and Home Private Cloud Security: Somebody has to do this, frankly it probably should be a non-profit organization that is an NGO (non-Government Organization) but it would need to work with the City Government in the Smart City for implementation and ongoing support.
  4. Cyber Physical Systems Broker: as more and more of these sensors and systems come only, the aggregation fits nicely into the broader City Market concept. Offering common CPS devices so that they can be reused (weather, video feeds and a fleet of security drones that sweep the city).
  5. City wide Wi-Fi – why? Frankly I think the Smart City will offer two city wide networks. One only for CPS devices to reduce traffic and one for everything else. Potentially partnering with media companies to fifer a 3rd city wide entertainment network also. In a city of 10,000,000 people there are multiple individual streams of any one movie. What if everyone was watching one cached stream of the same movie. Smart Cities would offer their citizens intelligent bandwidth management.
  6. Egoverment – or the creation of a virtual city. No more standing in lines at City Hall. Everything can be done in the virtual world. Forms are online. You can the smart city digital assistant (Siri of the City!) that will respond to you and help you navigate this new world.

There are more things (the concepts for more are in the book “The Syncverse” available on Amazon.) Smart Cities will do. Let’s start with the Egovernment. Moving government to a virtual world is the first critical step in successfully moving towards a smart city. Egovernment is more than simply putting the city online. It is also creating an analytics framework to make things better. The Smart City has net new revenue streams (Broker, Market) and net reductions in cost (on-line gov, reduced helpdesk with the digital SiriCity!) which means the Smart City can offer tax breaks to companies that downsize their offices. Today a huge chuck of a cities tax revenue is the downtown and suburban offices. If that is no longer the single largest revenue source you can offer tax breaks to companies that reduce their office footprints. Less office space means greater space for homes and small farms!

That in a nutshell is the why of Smart Cities having so much. I agree that the risk of Smart Cities having access to and control of a device on your home network and cellular phone poses a risk. Again in my book the Syncverse I proposed an NGO that would manage the Syncverse. I suspect the NGO would probably have to manage those security devices as well. Funded by the Smart City and National Governments but operating outside the control of either. Some countries will control the devices at the national level, but in the end they control access to and use of the internet today, anyway.


Smart City dreamer….