Michigan Bill: It’s OK To Microchip Employees, But Not To Make It Mandatory

A Republican lawmaker in Michigan finds it OK to microchip employees as long as employers don’t make it mandatory. Employers want this to “increase workplace efficiency”, where “efficiency” is a favorite Technocrat concept. A better concept would have been for Michigan to simply ban microchips, period. ⁃ TN Editor

The Michigan House of Representatives has passed a controversial bill to microchip humans voluntarily in the state under the guise of protecting their privacy. The Microchip Protection Act would allow Michigan employers to use microchipping of their workers with their consent. However, research has shown that RFID transponders causes cancer.

The plan to microchip humans is sponsored by Rep. Bronna Kahle under the guise of protecting the privacy of workers. The stated objective of the bill is that it will protect the privacy rights of Michigan workers and promote further growth for job providers as it relates to microchipping – a cutting-edge technology on the rise that increases workplace efficiency.

“With the way technology has increased over the years and as it continues to grow, it’s important Michigan job providers balance the interests of the company with their employees’ expectations of privacy.”

“Microchipping has been brought up in many conversations as companies across the country are exploring cost-effective ways to increase workplace efficiency. While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected.”

Rep. Bronna Kahle, the Republican who sponsored the bill, said in a press statement.

Radio-frequency identification tags, commonly referred to as microchips, are beginning to seep into the marketplace as new technological devices to help streamline everyday business practices. The chips, roughly the size of a grain of rice, are implanted into the hands of employees and act as a replacement for I.D. badges, timecards, usernames and passwords for security clearance, and even credit cards.

“Despite this type of technology not quite making its way into our state yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a standard business practice statewide within the next few years,” Kahle said. “We should absolutely take every step possible to get ahead of these devices.”

Under Kahle’s plan, Michigan employers would be able utilize microchipping, but could not mandate employees to have such devices implanted. Kahle said the measure strikes a good balance between protecting workers’ rights and providing businesses with flexibility to increase efficiency and further grow.

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Protecting Your Digital Life In The Age Of IoT

Unless specifically demonstrated otherwise, you should assume that every electronic device in your home is capable of ratting on you in one form or another. Here are some steps that can protect you. ⁃ TN Editor

The Internet of Things (IoT) device universe is expanding. This statement echoes for the fifth year in a row—only the numbers change as they grow bigger. Indeed, as the universe of IoT devices grows, so do the dangers they bring. With Gartner’s predicted 20 billion IoT devices by 2020 and 25 billion by 2021 comes not only lack of certification for IoT security (ISO/IEC 27030 is still in draft version and there are no clear dates when it can be released) but also real dangers right now from interconnected, insecurely designed, and not properly updated and maintained IoT.

Such constant expansion clearly demonstrates the attitude of those who participate in the IoT market. New models are introduced with shiny new functionality, but secure design, and extensive quality assurance and testing remain low on the priority list.

17 entry points to a connected home

Each new component added to the network poses a new possible risk and widens the attack surface for each household. This attack area for households is already large. On average, there are 17 devices connected to the internet for a single household, including computers, phones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, watches, cameras, NAS devices, printers, and thermostats.

This means every household has 17 devices on average that are:

  • Collecting your private data
  • Sending your private data for further analysis to the cloud
  • Serving as a possible entry point to the network
  • Disrupting internet services by participating in DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks

Our data shows that almost 43 percent of devices are using an operating system (OS) that is no longer supported. This does not mean immediate danger and exploitability because of differentiating OS lifecycles, but it does suggest a huge number of interconnected devices out there that are possibly no longer maintained by vendors, though they still exist in the local network as part of a device base. Even if we approximate that no more than a quarter of these devices are really vulnerable, that’s an impressive 10 percent of the overall device universe left to be exploited, posing real danger.

The risks posed by rogue devices

The most dangerous scenarios point toward devices that are unsupported, discontinued, or no longer maintained. They might still be storing sensitive user data after they are left connected to the internet with their ports forwarded.

Remote access attempts executed by malicious outsiders or host discovery scanners and unauthorized attempts to access the open port make up more than 65 percent of overall suspicious and malicious activities registered daily. Based on CUJO AI data attempts to check open ports or scan for possible vulnerabilities, this kind of activity happens at least 10 times a day per household. Apart from the direct danger to sensitive user data, no longer used and forgotten devices can serve as a trampoline or proxy inside the local network.

Other typical scenarios include leaving default credentials when connecting the device to the network. Given that IoT device configuration is often too complex or there’s no way to change the default built-in credentials, this is usually left “for later” and never done at all. The same considerations come with vulnerability patching and firmware updates.

IoT devices were often overlooked as minuscule, unimportant details of the overall network. This view has changed completely after the initial Mirai botnet attack. Hundreds of thousands of low calculating power devices can be coordinated together to unleash a huge, volumetric DDoS attack.

And there are several considerations when talking about IoT device security and protection:

  • How to protect them on the perimeter?
  • How to protect devices inside the network?
  • How to distinguish legitimate device behavior from malicious?
  • How to protect the device that is no longer maintained by the vendor itself?

What can be done to secure the home?

With the evolution of a chaotic IoT device market, new problems arise. How do you deal with the massive amount of discontinued and possibly no longer used devices still connected to the network and partially alive in zombie mode?

Cloud services used by such devices can be no longer available, patches are no longer released, and the manufacturer has shifted to a different type of product. And this problem will become more and more relevant with the practically unregulated expansion of the IoT device market. Parts of the internet become an interconnected landfill.

How to minimize the impact?

  • Monitor your household by identifying what devices are in your network. Review them occasionally to dismiss ones that are no longer used, thus decreasing the attack surface for your home network.
  • Change the default credentials, especially for IoT devices. Secure them with strong passwords according to the latest recommendations.
  • Deploy protection to the edge of the home network to disallow malicious outsiders access to your inner network while at the same time disallowing your devices from participating in illegal activities or communicating with malicious nodes.
  • Utilize security solutions driven by artificial intelligence that are capable of proactive protection for deterministic IoT devices by analyzing their behavior and determining typical vs anomalous behavior.

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Flashback: In Our Hyperconnected Future, Regulation Will Be Instant And Irresistible

Pushbutton control over algorithms and devices will ultimately circumvent and then replace traditional methods of governance, leaving no ground for appeal or redress: ‘Your app has been automatically updated.’ ⁃ TN Editor

Last week, a man crash landed his drone on the White House lawn. Evidently, the individual, a member of a US intelligence agency, had been drinking and was showing off his drone to a friend when he lost control of the craft.

Any other house and lawn and no problem. Obviously, not the case here. The president called for more drone regulations. Headlines fretted White House security. And DJI, the drone’s maker, grounded drones in the Washington DC area with a GPS software patch.

And perhaps that last item is the most intriguing. A maker of a physical product reached out through cyberspace and disabled it to comply with the law. (In fact, the update couldn’t be forced on owners as the drones aren’t internet connected, but if owners want to benefit from other updates, they have to accept that one.)

Now, it’s not to say DJI’s move doesn’t make sense. The fledgling drone industry is just getting its feet, and the FAA is still considering how to regulate it. Bad press about runaway drones in high-security areas? Not really all that ideal. Also, since 9/11, the airspace around Washington DC has been highly restricted. It’s not hard to see why the rule make sense in Washington. If a drone can carry a camera, it can carry more lethal packages and deliver them at a distance.

DJI had also already established a few thousand no-fly zones surrounding airports. Such no-fly zones are as much about safety as malevolent acts—mistakes happen, and we wouldn’t want a jet engine inhaling an errant toy aircraft.

But underneath all that is the fact that a simple software update can dramatically change what an already owned product can do. Most updates add functionality, but in this case an update took functionality away.

Where most regulated products rely on the threat of punishment and law enforcement to ensure people follow rules, with computer-based physical products, we may be witnessing the birth of a new, distinctly modern regulatory era.

Imagine a future in which the FAA rules on a particular item—say, no drones within 100 feet of federal buildings. Prior regulations have been put in place that require all drone makers to update their no-fly zones within five days. Almost instantly, no drone can fly within some new set of GPS coordinates. Why might this be appealing to regulators? In theory, the rule requires less enforcement because drones are physically prevented from flaunting it.

We’ve been talking drones, but they’re just one early example. There are others.

Tesla, for example, is well-known for pushing automatic software updates to its cars. And these aren’t just updates to the dashboard readout. Elon Musk just announced a software tweak to improve the Tesla Model S P85D’s acceleration by 0.01 seconds—small but significant in the high-end market where accelerations are measured and compared in hundredths of seconds.

As we head toward an increasingly driverless future, cars will become more like computers on wheels than wheels with computers. What regulations could be written into software? Speed limits? No-drive zones? Car won’t start until you put on your seatbelt?

And, of course, it doesn’t end there either. Analysts expect billions of new physical devices to come online in the next decade. The Internet of Things may afford the government real-time regulatory enforcement—government mandated thermostat settings to save energy or restricted water usage in a drought, for example.

Could such a system be abused? No doubt about it.

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Forbes: How The IoT Enables Pushbutton Regulation From A Distance

The Internet of Things (IoT) is designed as a command-and-control system to regulate the entire system in which they operate. This includes humans contained therein as well.

This article’s author rightly concludes,

The “Smart Cities” movement potentially may present the most significant incarnation of Regulation from A Distance, though. Versions I’ve noticed seem to involve heavy governmental control, “partnered” with large corporations or government-preferred players.

⁃ TN Editor

 

Artificial intelligence can be curiously stupid. My Android phone still thinks I’m “wing Cruz” and doesn’t know my kids. Pandora overplays The Church and Deadmau5 (no offense).

As hackable as Alexa, Jeep Cherokees and credit card services are over a public Internet not designed for security, the networked gadgetries enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to dazzle. An overwhelming number of them will be on display again in January at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (#CES2020).

The primary vulnerability of the IoT is not hackers, though, but IoT policy.

Technology that overcomes “market failure” in the provision of goods and services should enable the reduction and streamlining of regulatory burdens. Instead it sometimes threatens to foster the expansion of government power.

That is, the same IoT that animates objects can also mean instantaneous nanny-state regulation from a distance—of drones, vehicles, buildings, social media use, schooling and more.

You’ve heard of free-range kids vs. helicopter parenting?

Well, the society fancying itself on the verge of flying cars may face helicopter government instead; assorted bureaucrats clicking and swiping from afar, using the IoT to control the IoT.

It’s one thing for Tesla to send its own software updates to its customers’ cars. We definitely want such things to happen—a lot.

But as Jason Dorrier noted in Singularity Hub, “regulations … written into software” could be highly appealing to regulators. A “No drones within 100 feet of federal buildings,” rule, for example, could be enforced by requiring the uploading to networked objects of software patches altering GPS coordinates, and disabling them in event of non-compliance.

Dorrier named other examples: software patches imposing speed restrictions and no-drive zones on vehicles, preventing cars from starting without seatbelt attachment, and mandating thermostat settings and water use restrictions in buildings.

Entrepreneur Marc Andreessen long ago described software eating the world. Titans in sectors from “movies to agriculture to national defense” are now software companies, run on software and delivered as online services.

Unfortunately, while software has eaten business models, it is not eating traditional top-down central regulatory regimes in the sense of displacing them.

Those systems are preparing to eat the IoT instead.

The next step in this “evolution” could go beyond rules mandating the updating or patching of software, to unelected bureaucrats simply doing it themselves remotely by clicking and swiping rather than enacting a law or rule, Constitution notwithstanding. The use of guidance documents, informal directives and other “offers you can’t refuse” are already a prominent regulatory concern highlighted by the Administrative Conference of the United States. The IoT could magnify such abuse.

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Amazon

Amazon Ring Doorbells Exposed Your Wi-Fi Password To Hackers

Ring says the vulnerability was fixed in September, but it did not report the problem until now. Wouldn’t you think Ring owners would have wanted to be notified immediately upon discovery so they could at least change passwords on their Wi-Fi routers?

TN has said many times that Big Tech Technocrats barely treat security even as an afterthought. Getting products to market is far more important than consumer security and safety. ⁃ TN Editor

 

A new report from security researchers alleges that Amazon Ring doorbells have exposed users’ home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers.

TechCrunch reports that security researchers at Bitdefender have claimed that Amazon Ring doorbells were sending users Wi-Fi passwords in cleartext as the doorbell joins the home network. This would allow hackers to intercept the Wi-Fi password and gain access to users’ local network.

Bitdefender stated: “When first configuring the device, the smartphone app must send the wireless network credentials. This takes place in an unsecure manner, through an unprotected access point. Once this network is up, the app connects to it automatically, queries the device, then sends the credentials to the local network.”

All of this happens over an unencrypted connection which exposes the Wi-Fi password being sent over the air. The vulnerability was reportedly fixed by Amazon in September but the vulnerability was only recently disclosed.

A Ring spokesperson provided the following statement to Breitbart News: “Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. We rolled out an automatic security update addressing the issue, and it’s since been patched.”

This is yet another vulnerability recently discovered in smart home devices, Breitbart News reported a team of researchers from Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications and the University of Michigan recently claimed to have discovered a way to “hijack” voice-enabled devices by shining a laser at the microphones of the devices.

 




Qualcomm Salivates Over 5G And Internet Of Things

Qualcomm understands that 5G will provide a gusher real-time data to be collected, manipulated and sold for huge profits. Technocrats lust for and hoard all the data that they can get their hands on. ⁃ TN Editor

Like many municipalities, the city of Carlsbad has deployed connected water meters to reduce costs of sending crews out to read meters manually.

But these smart meters provide something perhaps more valuable than operational savings. They generate digital data on water use.

The Carlsbad Municipal Water District began running analytics software on that data to spot spikes and anomalies in consumption. For a time, a staffer would call residents to let them know their usage had surged.

The result was 16 million gallons of water saved in just six months, said David Graham, Carlsbad’s chief innovation officer, at Qualcomm’s Smart Cities Accelerate 2019 conference this week.

“That doesn’t exactly drive revenue for the city. We get more revenue the more water people use,” said Graham. “But it drives a better customer experience, and ultimately in California we want to reduce water usage across the board.”

The benefits and challenges of smart cities technologies were the focus of Qualcomm’s Smart Cities event, where more than 550 people, including representatives from 400 companies that make smart cities technologies, attended at the company’s Sorrento Mesa campus.

For Qualcomm, smart cities technology is part of its strategy to bring the wireless connectivity not only to smartphones but also to many other things including roads, energy and water grids and smart streetlights.

Faster, more flexible 5G networks, which have begun rolling out globally, have been tailored to eventually connect as many as one million devices per square kilometer — paving the way for a vast expansion of connected sensors, cameras and infrastructure.

For cities, connecting and analyzing data from connected street lights, water meters, energy grids and environmental sensors has the potential to improve safety, ease traffic jams and preserve scarce resources.

“At an intersection, which is really one of the most dangerous parts of driving, you can actually manage it with a combination of cars communicating with cars, cars communicating with the infrastructure and the infrastructure, with video, having the ability to understand exactly what is going on,” said Jim Thompson, chief technology officer of Qualcomm.

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Digital Slavery: 5G, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence

The Technocrat’s lust for 5G and Internet of Things is so strong that they are perfectly willing to ignore all human concerns, protests and especially health concerns. However, the issue of Scientific Dictatorship, aka Technocracy, is much greater. ⁃ TN Editor

Technocracy was originally defined as “the science of social engineering, the scientific operation of the entire social mechanism to produce and distribute goods and services to the entire population…” (The Technocrat Magazine, 1938)

Planted as a seed in 1932, Technocracy has grown into a tree so big that it literally covers the earth today: that is, through the rebranding and repurposing by the United Nations as Sustainable Development, Agenda 21, 2030 Agenda, New Urban Agenda, etc.

Furthermore, it is like a hydra-headed monster with many tentacles and expressions, but we must never lose sight of the common purpose of all: kill the world’s economic system of Capitalism and Free Enterprise and replace it with the vacuous economic system, Sustainable Development.

Since Technocracy is a resource-based economic system, people like you and I are considered as mere resources on the same level as livestock on a ranch. If people are just animals who selfishly consume resources, then they must be monitored, managed and limited in their consumption.

To this end, Technocracy originally called for total surveillance of all people, all consumption, all production and all energy consumed in every activity. The outcome was to control all consumption and production. This level of technology didn’t exist in 1932, but it does today!

When the surveillance network in America (and the world) is finally functional, the command and control system will become reality, resulting in a Scientific Dictatorship that exceeds even Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four or Huxley’s Brave New World.

What is the last cog in the gearbox necessary to bring this about? In short, 5G!

Why? When you consider the massive amount of data that is waiting to be collected from the widespread Internet of Things, facial recognition cameras, Smart City sensors, self-driving vehicles, etc., they all lack one element: real-time connectivity5G solves this!

If you listen to any 2019 speech given by the CEO of Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T, you will hear them rave over how 5G’s real-time connectivity is going to light up the Internet of Things like a Macy’s Christmas tree. You will hear the words “transformative” and “disruptive” over and over.

What’s the big deal with “real-time” connectivity? Artificial Intelligence (AI).

It is said that AI without data is as inert and useless as a pile of rocks. AI needs data to “learn” and then to take action. Up until now, Technocrats who create AI programs have had to use historical data for learning and that’s about all; forever learning but never doing.

The “holy grail” of Technocrats is to use their AI on REAL-TIME DATA. Real-time analysis can then close the control loop by feeding back real-time adjustments. This has never been done in the history of the world, but thanks to 5G, Technocrats everywhere are salivating to dive into the control business; that is, the “scientific operation of the entire social mechanism.”

Let me give you an example. Say you are an engineer and you designed and built a state-of-the-art fire truck that will revolutionize firefighting. There it sits on display for everyone to see. You start the engine and everyone is duly impressed, but still, it just sits there. Without water (e.g., the data) to pump through the numerous hoses, everyone, including yourself, can only imagine of what it would be like. In fact, your engineering dream is quite useless until you take it to an actual, real-time fire and blast away with the water cannons to douse the flames. Then you will know if you were successful or not.

Technocrats understand this. They know that 5G will fully enable their AI inventions and dreams. Unfortunately for us, they also know that it will enable the feedback loop to control the objects of surveillance, namely, US!

The Technocrat’s lust for 5G and Internet of Things is so strong that they are perfectly willing to ignore all human concerns, protests and especially health concerns.

Perhaps now you can understand how and why they are living out the old nautical phrase, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Risks don’t matter. Danger doesn’t matter. Collateral damage doesn’t matter.

To the extent that we citizens can nullify the rollout and implementation of 5G, we will scuttle the Technocrat’s ability to establish a Scientific Dictatorship. Truly, it is we who should be mounting the counter-attack with our own cry of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”




5G

5G And Internet Of Things To Create Unprecedented Surveillance

Are citizens required to passively sit by while the manacles of scientific dictatorship are clamped around their necks? More people recognize the encroachment, but not enough to slow or stop it. ⁃ TN Editor

Convenience is the sales pitch, but the real goal is control in service of maximizing profits and extending state power.

When every device in your life is connected to the Internet (the Internet of Things), your refrigerator will schedule an oil change for your car–or something like that–and it will be amazingly wunnerful. You’ll be able to lower the temperature of your home office while you’re stuck in a traffic jam, while your fridge orders another jar of pickles delivered to your door.

It’s all in service of convenience, the god all Americans are brainwashed to worship. Imagine the convenience of turning on the light while seated on your sofa! Mind-boggling convenience at your fingertips–and since you’re already clutching your smart phone 24/7, convenience is indeed at your fingertips.

It’s also about control, and as we lose control of everything that’s actually important in our lives, the illusion of agency/control is a compelling pitch. Imagine being able to program your fridge to order a quart of milk delivered when it gets low but not order another jar of pickles when that gets low! Wow! That’s control, yowzah.

The Internet of Things is indeed about control–not your control, but control over you– control of what’s marketed to you, and control of your behaviors via control of the incentives, distractions and micro-decisions that shape behavior.

The control enabled by the Internet of Things starts with persuasion and quickly slides into coercion. Since corporations and government agencies will have a complete map of your movements, purchases, consumption, communications, etc., then behavior flagged as “non-beneficial” will be flagged for “nudging nags”, while “unsanctioned” behavior will be directed to the proper authorities.

Say you’re visiting a fast-food outlet for the fourth time in a week. Your health insurance corporation has set three visits a week as a maximum, lest your poor lifestyle choices start costing them money for treatments, so you get a friendly “reminder” to lay off the fast food or make “healthier” choices off the fast food menu.

Failure to heed the “nudges” will result in higher premiums or cancelled coverage. Sorry, pal, it’s just business. Your “freedom” doesn’t extend to costing us money.

Domestic corporate versions of China’s social credit score will proliferate. Here is evidence that such scores already exist:

Everyone’s Got A “Surveillance Score” And It Can Cost You Big Money (Zero Hedge)

Then there’s the surveillance. The Internet of Things isn’t just monitoring energy use and the quantity of milk in a fridge; it’s monitoring you–not just in your house, car and wherever you take your Personal Surveillance Device, i.e. your smart phone, but everywhere you go.

If you are a lookie-loo shopper–you browse the inventory but rarely buy anything–expect to be put in Category Three–zero customer service, and heightened surveillance in case your intent is to boost some goodies (shoplift).

Heaven help you if you start spending time reading shadow-banned websites like Of Two Minds: your social credit standing moves into the red zone, and your biometric scans at airports, concerts, retail centers etc., will attract higher scrutiny. You just can’t be too sure about people who stray off the reservation of “approved” corporate media.

Your impulses are easy to exploit: since every purchase is tracked, your vulnerabilities to impulse buys will be visible with a bit of routine Big Data analysis, and so the price of the treats you succumb to will go up compared to the indifferent consumer next to you. Sorry, pal, it’s just business. Your vulnerabilities, insecurities and weaknesses are profit centers. We’d be foolish not to exploit them to maximize profits, because that is the sole mission of global corporations.

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Privacy Concerns Grow As IoT Devices Light Up

The great majority of citizens do not trust the Internet of Things for two big reasons: lack of security and data privacy. Technocrats won’t correct this without legally mandated legislation. ⁃ TN Editor

The safety and security of internet of things (IoT) devices remains a vexing issue for lawmakers, while a survey from the Internet Society shows there is still some way to go before reaching widespread public acceptance of IoT connectivity.

The survey, conducted in six countries by polling firm IPSOS Mori, found that 65% of those surveyed are concerned with how connected devices collect data, while 55% do not trust those devices to protect their privacy. Meanwhile, 63% of those surveyed said they find IoT devices, which are projected to number in the tens of billions worldwide, to be “creepy.”

Those concerns were at the forefront of a hearing last week on IoT security by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Security, where lawmakers and witnesses debated how to make the devices safer and more transparent for consumers, and what the role of the federal government should be in legislating that. It’s a dilemma for policymakers and industry leaders who must wrestle with these questions.

“We can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Internet Society president and CEO Andrew Sullivan told Smart Cities Dive. “We have invented this technology, so we’re going to have to figure out how to cope with it now. We have to figure out how are we going to make this technology something that better serves the people, the consumers who are buying it.”

Risks and concerns

Consumers are turning to internet-connected devices, and while they present enormous opportunities for convenience, they are not without risks.

In prepared testimony before the subcommittee, Robert Mayer, senior vice president for cybersecurity at the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) said there is “ample evidence of IoT security vulnerabilities,” with incidents like cameras being used for spying, personal information being stolen and hackers taking control of devices like smart thermostats.

“Concerns of this kind can have a massive influence on public perception of technologies, and if not addressed in meaningful ways, trust in the digital ecosystem will erode, causing unpredictable levels of disruption and economic harm,” Mayer’s testimony reads.

There have already been several major hacks of IoT devices, including the Mirai DDoS botnet attack in October 2016 that rocked technology company Dyn and resulted in the dramatic slowing or bringing down of the internet across the East Coast and elsewhere in the world.

In written testimony, Mike Bergman, vice president of technology and standards at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), warned of the international nature of the attack; 89.1% of the attack traffic originated from devices installed outside the United States, he said.

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Managing IoT Data Requires ‘Systems Of Systems’ To Break Silos

A isolated silo of data is unacceptable to the Technocracy mind, so the rush is on to develop ways to integrate disparate data systems into one. This is more easily said than done, but data is the life blood of Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

If cities are to effectively manage the vast amounts of data they collect from internet of things (IoT) devices, they need to take a holistic approach and break down silos, speakers said during a panel discussion at Smart Cities Connect in Denver last week.

All too often, city leaders are guilty of thinking of IoT initiatives — like smart lighting and smart parking — as isolated strategies. Instead, Rob Silverberg, Dell EMC’s chief technology officer for digital communities, said cities should use a “system of systems” in their IoT and data collection strategy and think about how, for example, smart parking fits into a wider goal of having smart transportation.

“What [cities are] starting to realize is that they’re implementing silos,” Silverberg told Smart Cities Dive in an interview after the panel discussion. “As they start to look at it more strategically, some of the cities have decided to establish more of a platform approach.”

It promises to be a difficult task for cities to manage the sheer amount of data they will be collecting through connected devices of all kinds. According to an estimate given during the panel, there could be as many as 200 billion connected devices worldwide by 2031, and it will be imperative for governments to be able to manage all the data gathered and use it in ways that will make its residents’ lives better. As cities experiment with initiatives like smart parking and smart lighting, they will need to work across departments to ensure that decisions are being made in the best way possible.

But that might be easier said than done. During the panel discussion, Portland, OR’s smart cities open data coordinator Hector Dominguez said while the city has worked extremely hard on its open data policy, including passing legislation supporting it, pitfalls remain. Portland uses a city commission form of government, meaning elected leaders are responsible for specific areas of policy, so there could be moments of confusion. Dominguez said despite the apparent separation of departments and policy that might undermine an open data push, work is underway to change that. “At this point every bureau is siloed and we have to create agreements to share data, which we’re working on right now. But it’s a challenge,” he said.

Cities have also expressed some reluctance to rely more on IoT devices and data due to privacy concerns raised by residents and leaders, some of whom are nervous about the idea of being surveilled by a government entity. But while the likes of facial recognition technology like Amazon’s Rekognition have come under fire, there are valid applications, and a good deal of people support its use in certain circumstances, according to public polls.

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