Big Data for Small Organizations

landsat imageHave you heard the words “big data” tossed around like a football during Super Bowl season? The idea of “big data” is really about using powerful processing algorithms to link lots of disparate pieces of information and then string them all together into a big picture. Right now federal agencies like DEA and the FBI have powerful databases and data mining toolsets that can link all sorts of data repositories, such as satellite images, vehicle ownership, federal, state, local, and many other data banks and create assumptions based on analytical associations. IBM has been on the forefront of this business for a long time and has spent many years developing semantic research and continually improving the art of data mining. Several very important technology trends are beginning to intersect that will change how, where, and how fast we can move data: 1) High performance computing speeds of processing power will soon be available to everyone via cloud computing; 2) Powerful data mining tools made to interact with high speed processing are moving at a fast clip; 3) Cognitive computing analytical tools (artificial intelligence that can think and make associations like a human) are one of the tech by-products of the War on Terror; 4) Advanced broadband that can stream data back to the end user is on its way via LTE; and 5) New business models that move software away from the “per server” model to hosted “per user” applications in the cloud will soon be the new norm. Many people watched the “intellect” of computing as IBM’s Watson, the computer, played Jeopardy.

The marriage of big data with artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities has massive implications for public safety and society. Over the next decade, technologies will likely rapidly disseminate and enhance advanced data sharing among local, state, and federal public safety organizations as cost models continue to scale and broadband availability and cloud computing bring applications closer to the user. It’s going to be a very different world!

Copyright Trends Digest 2013 – All rights reserved

The Future of Mobile Computing

Mobile BraceletMobile computing is at a cross-roads right now and is, again, on the cusp of another evolution. Dell is going private, and HP stock is down by double digits. With smart phones, tablets, and PC hybrids, something’s got to give. If you’re using a touch screen smart phone for public safety, all is well until you start exposing it to real emergency situations, including extreme climate, rapid inputs that jam up the operating system, and constant reboots and updates. None of these are perfect scenarios when lives are on the line. Not to mention, it is often difficult, in a lab, to simulate high stress conditions and the human behavioral interaction with the device under stress. You probably know what I mean. Think about your operating system not responding on your smart phone when you keep punching the icon again and again only to throw your phone into a tizzy and then have to hit the “power off”.Forget the touch screen. Enter next generation wearable computing. Thalmic Labs has come out with a gesture controlled armband which can read muscle impulses and recognize common arm and hand gestures. Myo is Thalmic Labs’ armband, which can, via Bluetooth, connect user devices and use gestures to interact with the computing device. A gesture algorithm was created by Thalmic through integrating common nervous system reactions in the arm and hand muscles and developing an algorithm of computer instruction. As smart phones and tablets get lost in the shuffle, computing will become more integrated with the human as wearable devices interacting with micro computing devices begin to get traction.
Copyright Trends Digest 2013 All Rights Reserved

Who’s Most Likely to Win the Public Safety LTE Jackpot? You May be Surprised…

Courtesy LTE/3GppCourtesy JS.ITWhile Congress has passed legislation to devote 700 MHz D block spectrum to public safety and build out a nationwide LTE (Long Term Evolution) network, few have yet to realize the massive disruptions this technological direction will have. Most public safety organizations today use land mobile radio – a basic two way radio technology based on Project 25 (P25) digital standards that involve antenna base stations dependent upon “line of sight” for moving radio waves around. The players in this market today have had a relatively unfettered marketplace for many reasons. Land Mobile Radio is a unique niche. It’s highly specialized. It’s the law enforcement and public safety culture. And, last but not least, two- way radio is an old technology and evokes about as much enthusiasm in today’s tech world as Dixie cups and string. LTE is another animal altogether. It’s like the cellular world has just taken over the radio world, but as long as the radios are still chirping, nothing seems to have changed.
Disruptive Trends Repeat Themselves – Shaking Down the LMR Supply Chain
As a long time telecom pundits, we’ve seen it before, and history is such a great prognosticator of the future. It was 2000, as our team sat in front of a CEO of a major utility company showing him the charts and graphs of our research indicating demand was going to fall far short of supply in the great fiber build out because of compression, software apps, and end users preferences. We agreed with this fortune 500 CEO to disagree, and his company is no longer in business. They were one of America’s oldest utility companies. Many people, even industry veterans and experts, can’t see the subtle changes in their market because they are too close to it. Land Mobile Radio, as we know it, is going away, and in its place will be a new supply chain of technology tagging along behind LTE. As with the telecom bust of the early 2000’s, the entire industry is going to change, including the manufacturers, the integrators, the engineers, the installers, the antennae, base stations, and all of the peripheral industries that make money off of public safety today. Those include advertisers, media outlets, consultants, lawyers, politicians, PR firms, training organizations, and other suppliers. The public safety media better develop a new business model in a hurry because their advertising base is going to change. It is likely that they will be overcome by new entrants who approach the market through broadband and mobile wireless media rather than public safety. This is a mirror of the LTE market which now plays to the supply chain of big network carriers not the boutique marketplace. If you doubt this, just flip through the advertisements in the public safety magazines. You don’t need the same towers, radios, backhaul providers, and base station equipment in creating an LTE network as you do in LMR. Additionally, print media is already getting ransacked by the move to Kindle and online only publications. When the telecom market went bust in the early 2000’s, it took with it magazines, lawyers, private equity, venture capital, and PR firms. The editors we worked with at Business Week and major publications of the day like, ran for cover in other markets.
Like All Markets, the Herd Stampedes through the Gate – then the culling occurs

As a 3GPP consortium standard, adopted by mobile wireless carriers globally, LTE brings with it the carrier grade network players like Nokia Siemens, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent, and players in the broadband public safety space like Motorola Solutions, and other providers. Because public safety will need very specific solutions end to end, there will be a lot of room for many players initially. There are challenges in integrating handsets, radios, backhaul, security, and multiple protocols like LTE to WIMAX, WiFI, and satellite. New demands for integrating new data nodes into broadband, like UAV data for public safety, and sensor data, will bring military like challenges learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving the defense boys a shot at the big prize. Specific solution sets by the likes of Raytheon, Thales, Harris, General Dynamics, and EADs/Cassidian, to name a few, will be sprinting forth with lessons learned from military combat and Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS). These defense guys are also in a pretty good position to roll out the red carpet to public safety on the UAS/UAV utilization in public safety and emergency response. They also will bring the best of “big data” analysis that will transform today’s public safety organizations into super sleuths, armed with acoustic sensors and precision technology used for finding Osama Bin Laden, for  ferreting out the common criminal.
Winners and Losers
As LTE subsumes the older Land Mobile Radio networks, the picture gets ugly for traditional providers of two way radio infrastructure. Microwave backhaul carriers might get to live another day if other alternatives cannot be found as infrastructure planning gets underway. Eventually, we think, the big winner here will be Chinese manufacturers. Oh, you’re thinking “..Chinese companies are banned from public safety, right?” Yes. And to you Gentle Reader, our reply is, “So What?” When it comes to LTE, all roads lead to China. Chinese manufacturers pretty much own the LTE standard and the supply chain. Even though Huawei, China’s largest manufacturer is presumably banned by the U.S. Department of Commerce from participating in the public safety build-out, there are just too many ways make the argument or to work the cracks in the system, via grey labeling, joint ventures, and creative corporate formations. So, whether the part is grey labeled, relabeled by another manufacturer, or sold by a reseller, it’s nearly impossible to build an LTE network without Chinese gear. And, soon, there might be only one supplier of some core network components. Despite recent Congressional hearings lambasting both ZTE and Huawei over their potential as a “security threat”, Huawei is the market leader in key network components and will continue to acquire network segments that allow the company and its Chinese counterparts to dominate the LTE supply chain as it usurps market share from weaker players globally. Ok, you’re probably saying “You’re crazy, how is that going to happen?” For starters –it already has happened. The Broadband Stimulus that recently plowed federal funds into public safety projects created a number of public private partnerships. The networks they intended to build included broadband supporting “public safety”, particularly in rural areas and along the SW border. The equipment specified included Chinese manufacturers. Furthermore, these products are showing up a rural telcos nationwide. Secondly, LTE was well supported by China, who has one of the world’s largest telecom markets. Huawei is a dominant player on the 3GPP standards board dominating the Security Committee and pioneering new standards for M2M (machine to machine) – you know, the ability for your phone to talk to your computer and do downloads and software updates without you knowing it or the ability for your smart phone to talk to the airline kiosk. LTE is a standard that completely favors Chinese telecom manufacturers like Huawei, who will have significant influence over the identified modifications to the standard required for the public safety community’s new network, FirstNet.
Over the last five years, this supply chain has become almost end to end dominated (core processors, security, routers, switches) by Chinese companies. Since it hasn’t happened in our history, it is difficult to comprehend the buying and investment power of a nation the size of China when it focuses its power on a single market. Below market pricing and cheap financing arrangements for selling products into Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe have rapidly taken business away from competitors Alcatel Lucent, Nokia Siemens, and Ericsson – all of which had one of the most poorly performing 2nd quarters ever in 2012. These companies were hammered by the global downturn in 2009, currency devaluations, and crisis in the Eurozone. Now they are piling up losses and looking for ways to cut costs. As if that is not enough, most American and European companies already manufacture many subcomponents in China. So, crack open a router and let the pieces come rolling out and see for yourself where they’re made. Lastly, the public safety community is very price sensitive, and it’s unlikely that there will be a move toward custom manufacturing for this marketplace. Huawei has denied interest recently in a public offering, but should it do so, it would be a hot commodity. If you’re an institutional investor, like Blackrock or Morgan Stanley, where are you going to place your bets?

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Drones to Swarm the Energy Market in the Next Decade

Drones Swarm Energy Market

UAVs mature, their roles of sensing and monitoring will eventually give way to robotic functions allowing them to operate as hybrids.  Drones soon will take on far more complex tasks.  Flying drone robots may soon be able to perform not only inspection but engineering modifications using onboard toolkits.   The UAS market in the U.S. hasn’t had the commercial jump start of growth from the energy sector seen in Israel, the U.K.  Much of this revolves around the regulatory challenges. Congress’s recently passed legislation requiring expedited integration of UAS into the national aviation infrastructure by 2015 should finally start the engines. UAS operation has historically been expensive when you add up the cost of hardware, software, training, technical support, and the occasional crash and burn event.  However, as the market continues to grow as does more affordable solutions.  Operators coming back from Afghanistan may find themselves met by more opportunities in the civilian world.  Soon UAVs might be familiar terrain features in the sky above the U.S.  However, integration of aerial vehicles may be easier said than done given the already crowed air space.  However the next decade unfolds, you can count on the fact that unmanned aerial vehicles and their even more robotic successors will be a big part of it.


Civilian airspace might be crowded, according to the FAA, but as you can see from the image, it’s a little less crowded in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.

All of our technology connections are creating the Virtual Electronic Enabled Hive (VEE-HIVE) presenting unfolding opportunities as disruptive technological and business trends take hold.      Use our “Contact” page to request a free Introductory issue of the VEE-Hive Report. Copyright 2012 Trends Digest – All Rights Reserved

When Public Safety Joins The Hive

The Hive

In the U.S., with the signing of one piece of legislation, the Congress changed the technology direction of an entire marketplace by moving from the typical digital two way radio  standards, in use by public safety today, to those already adopted by the mobile wireless industry.  Of course, as with anything in government, don’t expect it to happen quickly.  But do expect it to have an impact on companies in this sector.

An Alternative Future Becomes Clearer

Standards, already adopted by the cellular phone world, will now begin to envelope public safety, ushering in a brave new world of interconnection.  Now, the public safety world is on its way to unlimited device connection and accessing real-time data at a moment’s notice.  In fact, we’re entering the onramp to a world where billions of devices are not only connected to us, but to each other, and are busy pulling double-duty and forming their own networks.  In the near future, emergency responders may be able to electronically cut off power and other utilities to a building, check vitals on people inside, and send commands to robotic team members to begin search & rescue operations – all before physically arriving on the scene.

An Unveiling of Things to Come

From a layperson perspective, our techno-future might begin looking a little too good, or perhaps, even a bit “Orwellian” given the advanced level of technological homogeneity that is being put into play.  As we watch the future unfold, we see a very mobile world of extensive and intricate interconnection between devices, advanced processing power, and smaller antennae, creating the emergence of the “Virtual Electronically Enabled Hive” .  Technologies are in-place to offer connectivity across an ever broadening range of devices, creating ubiquitous access to data, voice, and video interoperability for Total-Data-Communications On the Move (TDCOM).  Handsets that can connect via cellular, two way radio, WiFi, WiMAX, satellite, “Lego” style “build your own” configurable base stations, redundant centralized cloud processing with virtualization, next generation encryption, drop down apps, and secure/lightning speed/mobile applications, are all part of the nascent technological framework that will blanket the nation.

The U.S. Government’s allocation of radio spectrum in the so called “D block”, tipped the scales in favor of a standard known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).  This move is a bit disruptive as it means that Uncle Sam has finally drawn a line in the sand of technological direction – 4/G paving the way to 5/G.  As this tide turns, the landscape quickly begins looking more like the mobile wireless and cellular landscape, along with the associated supply chain.

We can begin to gain some insight into the future by looking at R&D investments in future technologies and the imprint they will have on the techno-landscape.  Companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens, and Motorola spent 12-26%  of their revenues on R&D.  This has yielded some incredible technologies that will fundamentally change mobile wireless and public safety communications as we move into 2020.  Evolving technologies have profoundly changed network and end user functionality in this virtual enclave, and will continue to do so.  An example of these emerging technologies is Alcatel Lucent’s light radio, 2×2” configurable cubes that have sought positioning in the marketplace to replace cell tower functions.  Edge of network devices like Motorola’s LEX 700 (which can leverage LTE and carrier networks, and interactively offer push to talk, video, and voice interoperability through P25 gateways) give us an idea of how user devices are defining the new landscape.

While it may take years to roll out, LTE eventually holds the promise of not only rich broadband data transmission for public safety applications, but also voice over LTE.  Many in the public safety community have already weighed in on the concerns for LTE eventually carrying mission critical voice.  Do we remember the early 2000’s when voice over IP (VOIP) made conversations sound like we were in the bottom of a rain barrel?  Even the early stages of second generation VOIP systems like Skype have had their challenges.  So have commercial VOIP systems that originally cannibalized internal bandwidth until better bandwidth management applications came along.

As public safety becomes part of the “virtual electronically enabled hive” (VEE-Hive), the environment beyond 2020 looks quite different than it does today.  P25 gives way to LTE/4G, and 4/G gives way to 5G or whatever becomes the accepted standard post 2020.  The 5G concept may not be as much about speed as it is about network loading and efficiency given the sheer number of devices communicating over the network.  The idea is to prioritize traffic and automate the process of prioritization.  P25 at least puts us in the modern electronic world.  Think of it as leaving a wash-boarded gravel back road and pulling onto a highway.  P25 to LTE is the onramp to the superhighway that connects us into the world of digital broadband devices and interoperating protocols that connect voice, data, video, sensors, and even robotic/unmanned systems.  The M2M (machine to machine) world of sensors and devices communicating with other devices will provide instantaneous updates, enable rapid, highly granular/high-fidelity life-saving capabilities, and enable time saving multi-step process reduction that can spare lives and reduce costs.  In the future 5G world, groups of devices talk to each other and are pre-programed for priority to make way for emergencies and free bandwidth to avoid mission-critical network congestion.

After 4G comes 5G, likely delivered through IMT Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications) a specification of a collection of technologies for high speed global broadband approved by the ITU.  This bundle of technologies includes 802.16E (basically, souped-up WiMAX) and advanced LTE.  Since network traffic could grow 1000-fold between now and 2020, newer networks will accommodate growth by offloading processing functions to the cloud, and by getting machine to machine interfaces working effectively so latency can simultaneously be decreased.  Incorporating cognitive radio will also simultaneously enhance spectrum efficiency.

Glimpses of the Future Today

Even though the network may look more like a cellular carrier as we transition to 4G/LTE and 5G, the end user experience is often another story.  Have we ever been in the middle of sending an email or making a critical call when our “smart” phone decides to do something really dumb (like update handset operating system and reconfigure all applications to baseline in the middle of a busy work-day)?  These are the nightmarish visions first responders often have when they think of moving into the 4/G 5/G enabled world.  Automatic software updates, screen fades, power conservation, and loading data from the cloud onto the device all constitute potential ongoing challenges for unfettered end-to-end emergency coverage.

However, you can expect the bold move to 4G/LTE in the public safety market to continue the evolution of players in this market.  It is unlikely that the public safety community has yet grasped the impact to supply chains.  From a core network standpoint, where data/voice switching and routing occurs, the evolution of the supply chain leaves few U.S. manufacturing companies.  On the edge of the network we find device manufacturers who will have to focus on consolidation, specialization, or market exodus.  Trends Digest™ will continue to bring to you our specialized analysis of how we anticipate this market will unfold.  TD

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