Posts tagged could

German regulators could clear the road for self-driving cars

Three Bavarians in Traditional Clothing Drinking Beer and Celebrating in a Beergarden.

To suggest that global regulations around autonomous vehicles are murky, may be the understatement of the year. But Germany’s proposed regulations on self-driving cars could potentially let some daylight through.

As reported by Fast Company, the German government is updating its traffic laws to include self-driving car rules. If passed, experts say these regulations could provide some of the clearest guidelines for autonomous cars in any major world economy.

The proposed legislation stipulates that the new class of cars will still need to require a steering wheel and a conscious human sitting behind it. As well, driverless cars would need to have black boxes that record crash data to determine whether accidents were the fault of man or machine.

And while some argue the proposed rules are overly cautious, Germany’s decisive push for clear autonomous car regulations could give the country an advantage in the race to become global leader in developing the technology.

This follows chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments this spring that her government wants industry input and that all members of Germany’s ruling coalition are backing autonomous vehicles. This signaled to the industry that it could enjoy a harmonious legislative environment in the country, unlike other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, industry pundits have raised fears that America could become a disjointed patchwork of incompatible and competing regulations for self-driving cars.

German regulations won’t get knotted like elsewhere

In California, which is arguably the most advanced U.S. state for autonomous vehicle testing, convoluted rules continue to create obstacles for companies seeking to develop these cars in the state.

Bird & Bird, an international law firm, discussed details of Germany’s proposed legislation. It noted that the biggest rule change is that the driver could transfer legal responsibility to the robot car, with their liability only triggered if the driver doesn’t react to the vehicle’s “wake-up” alarm.

“In other words, the driver may read, write, or watch TV to a certain extent, but having a nap will remain prohibited,” said Alexander Duisberg, a Bird & Bird partner.

If the black-box recorder proves that the driver did respond to the car’s warning alerts, the vehicle would be held responsible for any accident rather than the human.

“Whenever evidence is had that the manufacturer of the system is responsible for the accident, [it] will be liable without limitation,” he said.

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Facebook’s drone could bring everyone connectivity

group of people talking in social network

For remote offline communities, Facebook’s autonomous test plane moved another step closer to providing internet to Earth’s least connected places.

As reported in Smart Cities World, the social media giant recently ran full scale tests of its Aquila unmanned airplane. Facebook intends to use the solar-powered plane to provide regional web connectivity to billions of people living in Earth’s most remote communities.

Previously Facebook had argued that projects like Aquila are necessary to connect isolated communities where the economics of terrestrial web infrastructure are too expensive.

The plane, which was developed by Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, faces significant technical hurdles before it is complete. As well, its chief engineer says the project needs to develop key partnerships between governments and other partners to enable it succeed in various locations around the globe.

“This will require significant advancements in science and engineering to achieve,” said Facebook’s global chief of engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh. “It will also require us to work closely with operators, governments and other partners to deploy these aircraft in the regions where they’ll be most effective.”

The solar-powered drone has a wingspan of a normal airliner and flies at a high altitude of 60,000. Its hyper-efficient design will eventually allow it to fly for three continuous months.

Facebook says the plane still has a long way to go before it can stay aloft for months at a time, though the latest test exceeded expectations.

“It was so successful that we ended up flying Aquila for more than 90 minutes — three times longer than originally planned,” Parikh said.

Facebook has now confirmed Aquila’s design

The drone uses millimeter wave systems and laser communications to beam down connectivity from above the clouds. Once fully operational, the drone will be able to circle a zone 60 miles in diameter, providing continuous internet to people living below.

Aquila is part of Connectivity Lab’s mission to connect people in far-flung locations through the use of drones, satellites and other communications systems.

In Aquila’s first functional low-level flight over Arizona, Facebook verified the plane’s overall aircraft design and operational models.

“In our next tests, we will fly Aquila faster, higher and longer, eventually taking it above 60,000 feet. Each test will help us learn and move faster toward our goal,” said Parikh.

In order for the robot plane to achieve three months of continuous solar-powered flight, its systems have been optimized to only consume 5,000 watts at cruising speed. This is equal to the electricity usage of three hair dryers.

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Digital trust could be the key to ensure personal health data


The transition into the era of electronic health records and health wearables has resulted in a plethora of electronic patient information including dates of birth, home addresses, social security records, insurance details and medical data. This data is highly desirable on the black market. But there are ways to prevent the risk for fraud.

I recently spoke to Brian Kalis, managing director of digital health at Accenture, to learn more.

Just how big is the problem?

Accenture recently released a report, The revenue risk of healthcare provider cyber security inactionIt reveals that in 2014, nearly 1.6 million people had their medical information stolen from healthcare providers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. Accenture  predicts that more than 25 million people—or approximately one in 13 patients—will have their medical and/or personal information stolen from their healthcare provider’s digitized records between 2015 and 2019

Kalis explained that what most healthcare providers don’t recognize is that as a result of cyber attacks on medical information, many patients will suffer personal financial loss. In contrast to credit card identity theft, victims of medical identity theft often have no automatic right to recover their losses.

According to the Ponemon Institute, these financial losses may take several forms. Not fully understanding their medical bills, some victims have unwittingly paid bills run up by others. Some have had to reimburse their insurers for healthcare services obtained fraudulently. Many have incurred substantial legal costs as they have sought to unravel the cyber crimes perpetuated against them. In fact, 65 percent of victims of medical identity theft pay out-of-pocket (OOP) costs at an average of $13,500 per victim.

It further shows that healthcare providers are at risk of losing $305 billion in cumulative lifetime patient revenue over the next five years due to patients switching providers because of medical identity theft. Almost half of patients said they would find a different provider if they were informed that their medical records were stolen.

What the blackhats are seeking

According to Kalis:

“Research has shown that there are multiple sources. overwhelming majority is coming from nation states and organized criminal groups, primarily because the value of medical records are greater than traditional identities on the black market, up to ten times the value of traditional credit/identity info. However there is also a high volume of employee internal responses such as the loss of laptops and usb drives, things that can be avoided through better risk management and  compliance measures”.

When you think healthcare data, the data for sale includes names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, all of which can be utilised to create fake identification to buy medical equipment and drugs that can be resold or to lodge fraudulent Medicare claims  This is compounded by delays as data breaches and medical identify theft is not always immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.

Is “digital trust” an answer?

Kalis and many others place great credence in the notion of “digital trust,” a combination of cybersecurity, privacy and “data ethics.”  It extends beyond the notion of data security to an ethical viewpoint about “the  handling, control and providence of data. about making sure data is accurate and handled effectively. Digital ethics expands data security beyond pure safety to  the decisions and actions you take to ensure that you are using that information responsibly for the people you serve as a steward of that information.”

An everyday example of this is Apple’s Health Kit. After the consumer outcry from its iCloud breach in 2014, Apple came to understand the importance of trust.

According the Accenture report:

“Apple’s efforts to be transparent in how it uses and secures customer data is testimony to the value this leading brand places on trust. Its new platforms, such as Apple Pay and HealthKit, are clear beneficiaries of this trusted-by-design approach because the strong security and ethics that are ‘baked in’ give customers confidence that their digital footprints are secure and private, easing the transition to and adoption of the Apple ecosystem. This underscores the role trust plays as digitally powered companies look to disrupt their own markets and enter new ones.”

Kalis also notes that:

“What we’re seeing is the raising of security up to the board level, executive level response, so a lot of the ways of protecting it start with the leadership and overall aspect of making security of data a priority and then extend this philosophy to all the employees in practice. Then companies can move into more advanced ways of protecting the information internally, whether through using advanced analytics to detect both internal threats or misuses of information or external threats coming in.”

Blockchain could also be health data’s savior

Kalis also believes the blockchain can be part of the solution, as it shifts the model from centralized control to decentralized power that’s ultimately controlled by the individual.  He cities the example of Estonia where blockchain technology is utilized to secure over a million healthcare records.

Ultimately the issue of data theft and health care fraud is complex and challenging. There’s not a simple solution. It requires consumer understanding of the need to secure their health data. Healthcare companies to employ advanced data analytics and top-down cultural change from the healthcare professions to preempt data breaches and the legal system to provide appropriate detection and prosecution. As both IoT technology and criminals move quickly, the challenge will be to see if the security professionals and judicial system can keep up.

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Hi-speed Aussie railroad could spark new smart cities

Shanghai, China - March 16, 2015: A model of Shanghai Maglev Train in the Train Station. The line is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world.

Backers of a controversial $151 billion high-speed rail plan claim it will be funded by the creation of eight new Australian smart cities.

As reported by Australian newspaper The Age, long-sought details are finally emerging about a proposed high-speed rail line between Sydney and Melbourne. The proposed railway would cut travel time from the current 12 hours to less than three hours.

This comes as politicians have voiced greater interest in supporting smart city plans in Australia.

As part of the rail plan, proponents Consolidated Land and Rail Australia said it would create eight new smart cities along the magnetic levitation train route. The company says its smart cities would be kitted out with such beneficial aspects as renewable energy, low water usage, high-speed internet and affordable homes.

However, the Age raised concerns that the rail line may be a grand unattainable dream. Skepticism is partly coming from the idea of building eight entirely new smart cities from scratch, which is a monumental task by any standards.

High-speed rail but no new taxes?

As well, the claim that the entire project would be completed with no taxpayer money whatsoever also raised eyebrows.

The project proponents said they would finance the railroad and smart cities through real estate speculation of the land along the proposed train route. The company predicts that the cheap farmland they’ve already optioned on the train line would skyrocket in value as soon as residential developments were built.

The Age suggests that such a strategy makes this plan more a real estate play than an investment in transport or smart cities.

While Consolidated’s smart city-driven transport plan states that it will use not burden the public purse, an alternate high-speed rail plan already exists, which was developed at considerable public expense.

The $20 million federal study by AECOM was released in 2013. It projected that a high-speed rail line, which would cover the 1,750 km between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, would have cost $84 billion in 2012 dollars.

Considering the current economic conditions in Australia, such a hefty price tag essentially ensures that such a rail line would not get built using public resources.

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MIT develops mobile sensor that could save your life


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have unveiled a new sensor that could save lives by detecting a buildup of toxic gas in an area, and then send that data to a connected mobile or wearable.

The sensor is incredibly sensitive to toxic gas, able to detect 10 parts per million of gas in the air. When toxic gas is spotted, the carbon nanotubes inside the sensor break free of the insulating material, activating a near field communication (NFC) alert that appears on the connected device.

See also: Can wearables empower patients despite doctors’ skepticism?

MIT has made the sensor incredibly lightweight and inexpensive and hopes to build in into an radio frequency identification (RFID) badge in the future.

Sensor and mobile combination in the battlefield?

The RFID badges could be implemented in the Army or security to warn of chemical weapon deployment. It could also be utilized in areas where workers are using chemicals and areas of heavy pollution, where the air might be toxic.

“Soldiers have all this extra equipment that ends up weighing way too much and they cannot sustain it,” said MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager. “We have something that would weigh less than a credit card. And soldiers already have wireless technologies with them, so it is something that can be readily integrated into a soldier’s uniform that can give them a protective capacity.”

Swager says the wearable tag can match laboratory equipment, but at a far cheaper cost while also being more mobile. He also expects that this is the smallest sensor researchers will be able to create that can track toxic gas.

Even though MIT is focused on the Army angle, the RFID tags could be utilized to report gas leaks and even notice leaks in lithium thionyl chloride batteries.

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Smart city traffic tech could save us 4.2B hours yearly

businessman late for work because of traffic jams

Smart city innovations relating to traffic and road improvements are projected to make a massive impact on the lives of urban dwellers in the coming five years.

A study by Juniper Research found that smart parking and smart traffic management projects will save 4.2 billion man-hours each year by 2021, according to an article by Enterprise Innovation. This works out to each city’s annually saving an entire working day that would have been otherwise spent on driving.

Juniper’s report, “Worldwide Smart Cities: Energy, Transport & Lighting 2016-2021″found that these efficiencies will be driven by rising city populations that are putting pressure on municipal resources. This comes as governments are investing ever-increasing amounts of their budgets on connected devices and smart technology.

“Facilitating the movement of citizens within urban agglomerations via transport networks is fundamental to a city’s economic growth,” said Steffen Sorrell, author of the study. “Congestion reduces businesses’ competitiveness, and contributes to so-called brain-drain.”

As well, traffic congestion is one of the challenges that smart cities must solve in order to boost quality of life for its citizens and increase competitiveness of the urban area.

In light of this, traffic easing plans are at the vanguard of many smart city strategies, which Juniper expects to result in 2 million smart parking spaces installed worldwide by the year 2021.

…And more lighting to stay out later with your saved hours

Another road-related development Juniper predicts is a surge in installations of smart street lighting over the next five years. The lighting systems are comprised of micro-controlled sensors and LED units and Juniper anticipates more than half of installed LED road lighting systems to be networked worldwide by 2021.

While the obvious benefit of smart street lighting is the reduction of city energy bills, there are other possible benefits as well. New services that generate revenue could stem from additional sensors installed on the LED light fixtures, including potential retail marketing opportunities and municipal Wi-Fi capacity.

Juniper’s study said the proliferation of LED lighting in cities is expected to continue growing rapidly due to plummeting costs for LED technology and the adoption of hardware standards for the light fixtures.

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Could Blackberry have a real chance in IoT?


The world may be melting down into Brexitian chaos, but for a company like Blackberry that’s the least of its worries. After all, customers already voted themselves out of Blackberry’s ecosystem years ago, choosing to embrace Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android phones. Brexit is just one more kick in the teeth for a company that has struggled for years to regain relevance.

And yet…there are signs of life at Blackberry.

The most important sign is the Internet of Things. While every company is pretending to have an IoT strategy these days, Blackberry actually has the raw materials necessary to build a highly relevant IoT business.

Chasing a niche is a good plan

To be honest, it has been years since I last thought about Blackberry, either as a vendor or as blog fodder. I didn’t want to use their phones and I couldn’t muster any energy to write yet another eulogy for the once powerful company.

So when I saw that Larry Dignan had penned a piece suggesting that Blackberry Radar could fuel a turnaround, I was surprised but intrigued. Larry is a smart guy. Why would he bother writing about a corporate corpse?

Blackberry Radar is an “end-to-end, Internet of Things (IoT)-based system that monitors the location of trailers and containers and delivers timely, actionable data to transportation managers via a secure, online portal.” In one sense, it’s a niche solution for the Transportation vertical. Even though Blackberry CEO John Chen rightly calls out the “there are anywhere between three million to 12 million [truck] trailers currently in the U.S. alone,” a fraction of which (14 to 20%) with telematics services attached to them, it’s still hardly something worth going long on BBRY as an investment.

Does Blackberry have the right IoT assets?

However, it’s not so much Blackberry Radar of itself that is interesting. Rather, it’s that Radar reminds us of the systems expertise that Blackberry has honed over decades.

For example, Chen went on to talk about QNX, the embedded, real-time operating system that has been around for eons, and sits at the heart of Blackberry’s connected car platform:

We’ve built and operate a secure end-to-end system to deliver over-the-air software updates to cars, to automotive, automobile. This technology is a growing imperative for automotive OEMs, with the average vehicle nowadays using about 60 million to 100 million lines of software code. Our solution will help the auto industry provide proactive maintenance update, without time consuming visit to the repair shop. This solution has been derived from our technology for updating 50 million mobile phones in over 100 countries.

If that sounds like exactly what is needed to operate a powerful, sophisticated IoT network then that’s because it is.

It Just Works

Two years ago I wrote about how a lack of standardization in IoT would make open source an imperative. While that shift toward open source is happening, it’s also true that developers and the enterprises they serve are hungry for workable platforms that can get them started faster. That’s where Blackberry comes in.

Companies have been calling out for someone to solve the Wi-Fi, real-time location tracking, bar codes, mobile and GPS-related IoT problems they have. Blackberry, because of its years building out a massive smartphone network, coupled with its QNX experience, has this in spades.

So today it’s right that Blackberry should start with an isolated market like trucking logistics. But there’s no reason that this same system, and its underlying assets, can’t power a whole host of other IoT projects in vastly different markets. Could this be the start of a Blackberry resurrection?

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Could wearables make you a master schmoozer?

Business people applauding at the conference

We’ve all met someone at a party or meetup and forgotten their name just minutes after shaking their hand and making an introduction. It’s difficult to remember the names and faces of everyone you meet, but what if the wearable technology you have on you can help you out with that?

With the growing trend of wearables and IoT technologies, one thing is for certain, the ability for these devices to detect and communicate with one-another is remarkable. Now, imagine that technology that already tracks our steps, heartbeat, and location and use it to remember the names of people you meet throughout the day. That would be extraordinary.

Even more impressive would be using these technologies to identify someone in a crowded room and have that person’s name and information available to you when you need it.

Researchers at Rice University have been looking to achieve just that by overcoming the challenges that come with having the camera on your phone running 24/7. Phone cameras are great, but they’re battery hogs. Having your camera on to shoot videos at a party is hard enough on battery life, but having it running from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave would be detrimental.

RedEye is a technology being developed by Rice’s Efficient Computing Group. It uses some clever software and hardware tricks to dramatically reduce the amount of energy it takes for a system to identify images being captured by image sensors and determine what is, and isn’t important enough to keep.

A virtual photographic memory?

“Real-world signals are analog, and converting them to digital signals is expensive in terms of energy,” said Robert LiKamWa, a member of the project. “There’s a physical limit to how much energy savings you can achieve for that conversion. We decided a better option might be to analyze the signals while they were still analog.”

Your phone’s camera captures analog images and converts them into digital data whenever it’s running. This data conversion is expensive in both processing and battery power. By changing the software so that it analyzes the analog data rather than the digital conversion, this cuts out a lot of the effort required by the device.

There are a bunch of technical bits and pieces, including system architecture that is designed to work much like the human brain, but the end result is clear. RedEye is on the path to make wearable, IoT, and other battery-powered devices significantly more efficient when it comes to receiving and analyzing visual data.

Back to the party, your phone (and one day other wearables) would constantly be running its camera, identifying specific objects and even people’s faces and, upon being triggered by a specific pattern it recognizes, would make information about them available to you. This technology would have to be able to be switched off, as there are obviously times and places where having photographic record is inappropriate.

At this stage, RedEye and similar technologies are in early development, but in a world where we are already using Google in place of our own memories for hard facts, phone numbers, and directions, this evolution is inevitable.

One day, we could all have photographic memories.

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Could telcos lose their shirts on the IoT-driven 5G business?


Though the Internet of Things (IoT) is heralded as a future money spinner for industries far and wide, one analyst says telcos won’t see 5G-related windfalls from IoT any time soon.

As reported by RCRwireless,  New Street Research  partner Andrew Entwistle dumped cold water on the future of IoT and its relationship to 5G wireless networks, saying  that it does not offer “any business case for a telecoms operator.” Entwistle was speaking at a 5G seminar in Australia.

Entwistle’s take goes against popular industry sentiment that 5G’s role as IoT enabler will give operators new vertical revenue streams.

“I’m perfectly prepared to accept that the internet of things is extraordinarily interesting to equipment makers and vendors, to systems integrators, to policymakers, and to people concerned with the social role of communications services in our lives,” said Entwistle.

“But there is an awful lot of noise about the internet of things that doesn’t actually translate into, to put it strongly, a whole hill of beans for the telecoms operator who’s looking to sell services to achieve revenue per customer or revenue per device.”

To illustrate his view, Entwistle described a theoretical hospital of the future that installed healthcare-related IoT devices using 5G network capability.

“Not a single penny” from 5G and IoT?

“The telecoms operator will not see a single penny from any one of those devices. They sell a 5 [gigabits per second] fiber into the data room of the hospital today, and in 10 years’ time they’ll probably still be selling a 5 Gbps connection, or 10 Gbps fiber at half the price of today’s 5 Gbps fiber,” he said.

“I can’t see any business case for a telecoms operator. An operator said: ‘We will have 1,000 times as many devices and we only need 1,000th of the [average revenue per user] in order to build a business as big as our existing business.’ That’s not a business plan, that’s just multiplying two numbers together and making a brave assumption.”

Market skeptics worry that the telcom operators’ IoT-driven 5G business faces the likelihood of low traffic volumes and revenue yields, with relatively thin margins.

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Big changes to device bidding in AdWords: What could they mean for your accounts?

Columnist Laura Collins discusses the impact of individual device bid adjustments in AdWords, an upcoming change recently announced during Google Performance Summit in San Francisco.

The post Big changes to device bidding in AdWords: What could they mean for your accounts? appeared first on Search…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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UK could bring healthcare expertise to India’s smart cities


The United Kingdom could play a “significant role” in helping India build hospitals and clinics in smart cities, according to the National Health Service (NHS) chairman Sir Malcolm Grant.

The UK has developed some of the most innovative healthcare services and systems in the world over the past seven decades of NHS. The UK has an unmatched combination of clinical, technological and academic expertise,” said Grant to the Economic Times.

“I hope that our visit will help write a new chapter in the history of India’s health services, both in the private sector and in the government’s ambition to provide universal healthcare.”

See also: Big data billionaire questions role of wearables in healthcare

Grant is part of a trade venture comprised of 23 British companies and NHS trusts, looking into potential health partnerships in North India. The team will visit Mumbai and Bengaluru and meet with healthcare officials to discuss the future of India’s healthcare system.

India is starting to see a rise in British investment, as relations between the countries blossom. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited in the UK and both countries called it the start of a “special relationship”, similar to the UK’s growing relationship with China.

That special relationship with India may provide solutions to the current problems facing the country’s healthcare system. At the current time, most citizens either use public services that are woefully underfunded or pay for private insurance.

India looking for a universal healthcare solution, on a budget

There is an initiative to build a universal health service, started under the Singh government, but Modi has called for drastic cutbacks to the service. This has caused severe delays, as the government searches for ways to lower the budget. In the meantime, millions of Indian citizens remain in limbo, unable to afford private healthcare and only receiving basic healthcare from public institutions.

Bringing in experts from the UK might help alleviate some of the budget concerns, by providing more effective and efficient systems to smart cities. The NHS may also be able to use local technology, like the high adoption rate of mobile devices, to provide healthcare on the go.

NHS executives know all about managing budget cuts too, in the past six years the Conservative government has been cutting off billions of pounds in health funds to try and balance the economic books, and still the NHS remains one of the highest rated health services in the world.

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