Category Archives: Science

Updates from ITU

How can AI help make our roads safer?
ITU News – What does a fully autonomous, electric, high-performance race car have to do with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

For starters, the vehicle, developed by Roborace, is providing a testing ground for new efforts to build public trust in how next-generation vehicles could improve road safety and reduce the 1.35 million annual road deaths worldwide (SDG 3.6). Increased use of autonomous, electric, connected vehicles could also reduce emissions, improve traffic flows — and provide affordable, safe and sustainable transport systems to underdeveloped nations (SDG 11.2).

But how do we go from race track to the road?

A panel of experts – Bryn Balcombe, CSO at Roborace and Founder of the Autonomous Drivers Alliance; Lucas di Grassi, Formula-E World Champion and CEO at Roborace; and Fred Werner, Head of Strategic Engagement at ITU’s Standardization Bureau – met at Web Summit 2019 to discuss how AI will make our roads safer, and how ITU is helping lead the charge. more>

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Updates from Ciena

To repeat, or not repeat, that is the question
Are you familiar with unrepeatered submarine cables? As Ciena’s Brian Lavallée often gets asked about this lesser-known technology, he took some time to explain what they are, when to use them, and why they’re important.

By Brian Lavallée – Many new submarine cables have been announced by major Internet Content Providers, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, to interconnect data centers. These high-capacity submarine cables traverse oceans by leveraging the latest in wet plant and Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) coherent modem technology… but what about the lesser known counterpart of these submarine cable designs, the unamplified submarine cables? I often get asked about unamplified submarine cable networks, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in this blog.

Due to the distances and capacities associated with transoceanic submarine cables, optical amplifiers are spaced at regular intervals along the cable to amplify information-carrying wavelengths. Undersea optical amplifiers are similar to their terrestrial counterparts, at least from an optoelectronic perspective, but are installed in one of the harshest telecom operating environments on Earth – the ocean floors, and sometimes several kilometers deep. Amplified submarine cables are more commonly referred to as “repeatered” cables, but this is actually a misnomer.

A traditional optical communications “repeater” regenerates a received optical signal by performing 3Rs – Reamplify, Reshape, and Retime – to restore the quality of received optical signals, which involves OEO (Optical-Electrical-Optical) conversion. Repeaters, also referred to as “regenerators, or “regens” for short, were expensive and power-hungry devices, but were absolutely necessary for the proper transmission of information across great distances. more>

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Why digital strategies fail

By Jacques Bughin, Tanguy Catlin, Martin Hirt, and Paul Willmott – Most digital strategies don’t reflect how digital is changing economic fundamentals, industry dynamics, or what it means to compete. Companies should watch out for five pitfalls.

We find that a surprisingly large number underestimate the increasing momentum of digitization, the behavioral changes and technology driving it, and, perhaps most of all, the scale of the disruption bearing down on them. Many companies are still locked into strategy-development processes that churn along on annual cycles. Only 8 percent of companies we surveyed recently said their current business model would remain economically viable if their industry keeps digitizing at its current course and speed.

How can this be, at a moment when virtually every company in the world is worried about its digital future? In other words, why are so many digital strategies failing?

The answer has to do with the magnitude of the disruptive economic force digital has become and its incompatibility with traditional economic, strategic, and operating models. This article unpacks five issues that, in our experience, are particularly problematic. We hope they will awaken a sense of urgency and point toward how to do better. more>

Ending short-termism by keeping score

By Klaus Schwab – As finance ministers gather in Washington, DC, for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings, they will face no shortage of urgent matters to discuss. Fears of a global recession, the US-China trade war, the fallout of the Brexit talks, and a dangerous debt overhang make this the most stressful economic juncture in a decade. These issues must be discussed, and we should all hope that they can be resolved with minimal damage.

All of this assumes an end to the economic short-termism that underpins policymaking today. For that, we should develop scorecards to track our performance on these long-term priorities. To that end, I have three suggestions.

First, we need to rethink GDP as our “key performance indicator” in economic policymaking.

Second, we should embrace independent tracking tools for assessing progress under the Paris agreement and the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).

Third, we must implement “stakeholder capitalism” by introducing an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scorecard for businesses.

On the first point, we desperately need to change our overall economic frame of reference. For 75 years, the world marched to the beat of the drum called “Gross Domestic Product.” Now, we need a new instrument. GDP gained traction when economies were primarily seen as vehicles for mobilizing wartime production. Yet today’s economies are expected to serve an entirely different purpose: maximizing wellbeing and sustainability.

It is time to consider a new approach. A group of economists from the private sector, academia, and international institutions, including Diane Coyle and Mariana Mazzucato, has already been working on alternate measures and ways to correct for the failings of GDP.

Their Wealth Project, which evolved from efforts initiated by the World Bank, has offered a number of proposals for how we can move forward. more>

Updates from Siemens

Why noise is one of the biggest problems with electric cars
By Steven Dom – Imagine your company is engineering the next line of electric vehicles. You create technical specifications that reduce range anxiety, you’ve perfected the colors that pop and entice customers to buy and with battery technology advancement, you’ve priced it right.

But there are problems with electric cars.

Because the electric vehicle engine emits no noise, pedestrians are more likely to be struck by an electric vehicle. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that hybrid and electric vehicles are 57 percent more likely to cause accidents with cyclists, and 37 percent more likely to cause an accident with pedestrians, than a standard internal combustion engine vehicle.

Countries are requiring the quietest cars emit a sound to warn those around the vehicle of its presence.

Now, imagine after creating the ideal electric vehicle, the customers reject it based on the noise it emits. What if your vehicle’s noise is too strange or annoying?

This is just one of the many perils facing the quiet electric vehicle.

The goal of successfully getting an electric vehicle to market, one that a consumer would be interested in and enjoying, was about improving range. In a world lacking in electric vehicle infrastructure, solving range anxiety would allow customers to feel more comfortable driving the electric vehicles to-and-from work and longer trips beyond.

Engineers focused on vehicle architecture including the number of motors driving the wheels, managing the HVAC system’s energy consumption and finding ways to reduce weight, such as using thinner panels and less sound deadening components to provide better mileage. Without the roar of a combustion engine, there was no need to reduce noise. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Mobile backhaul: a key growth driver to fuel fiber investments
It is no secret that communication service providers are facing decreasing margins and increased financial leveraging, struggling to make the investments necessary to respond to the evolution of user and application requirements. Francisco Sant’Anna explains how regional providers can leverage carrier wholesale demand to enable profitable and sustainable fiber investments.
By Francisco Sant’Anna – Fiber has never been as critical as it is today, and this trend is likely to continue for a long time. With the evolution of 4G and initial 5G deployments underway we will see an almost six-fold increase in mobile data-traffic between 2018 and 2023 (according to Ovum’s Network Traffic Forecast: 2018-23, published in December 2018). The result? Massive demand for transport capacity. Combining this with the cell densification needed to deliver suitable coverage at a higher spectrum, mobile services will be a major driver for extending fiber reach.

Residential, business and public sectors are also driving this push for more fiber. Video continues to be the main application, having increased its share of total Internet download traffic from 58 percent to 61 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to Sandvine’s 2019 Internet Phenomena Report. New streaming and operator IPTV solutions are playing a major role in this growth, but on top of that, the evolution of video quality standards is expected to be crucial fuel to the four-fold video traffic increase that Ovum forecasts from 2018 to 2023 in its same report. Consumers’ unrelenting desire for more bandwidth is driving communication service providers on a quest to increase their bandwidth offerings throughout their covered areas, a key factor in a scenario where the largest pipe may have the best chance at winning the customer.

Analysis of recent acquisitions of regional providers shows that the valuation of most of these companies was largely based on their fiber networks. Most reports emphasize the number of fiber route-miles being acquired, with rare mentions of customer base or service expertise. Fiber-miles is the current gold-standard for the telecommunication sector. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Diversity May Be Key to Reducing Errors in Quantum Computing
By John Toon – In quantum computing, as in team building, a little diversity can help get the job done better, computer scientists have discovered.

Unlike conventional computers, the processing in quantum-based machines is noisy, which produces error rates dramatically higher than those of silicon-based computers. So quantum operations are repeated thousands of times to make the correct answer stands out statistically from all the wrong ones.

But running the same operation over and over again on the same qubit set may just generate the same incorrect answers that can appear statistically to be the correct answer. The solution, according to researchers at the Georgia institute of Technology, is to repeat the operation on different qubit sets that have different error signatures – and therefore won’t produce the same correlated errors.

“The idea here is to generate a diversity of errors so you are not seeing the same error again and again,” said Moinuddin Qureshi, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who worked out the technique with his senior Ph.D. student, Swamit Tannu. “Different qubits tend to have different error signatures. When you combine the results from diverse sets, the right answer appears even though each of them individually did not get the right answer,” said Tannu. more>

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Updates from Boeing

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg Announces Changes to Sharpen Company Focus on Product and Services Safety
New Product and Services Safety organization unifies company approach to safety. Additional actions elevate Engineering function, strengthen Boeing’s culture and will advance safety across the aerospace ecosystem.
Boeing – “Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and the recent 737 MAX accidents will always weigh heavily on us. They have reminded us again of the importance of our work and have only intensified our commitment to continuously improve the safety of our products and services,” said Muilenburg.

“My team and I embrace our board’s recommendations and are taking immediate steps to implement them across the company in partnership with our people, while continuing and expanding our ongoing efforts to strengthen safety across Boeing and the broader aerospace industry. We thank our board and the committee members for their thorough work and ongoing support. Boeing is committed to always being at the forefront, proactively leading and advocating for continuous improvements in global aerospace safety.”

In addition to the previously announced permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of the Boeing Board of Directors, Muilenburg shared that Boeing is standing up a new Product and Services Safety organization that will further strengthen the company’s safety-first focus. This organization will unify safety-related responsibilities currently managed by teams across several Boeing business and operating units. more>

Introducing Cybersecurity Insights: Director’s Corner

By Matthew Scholl – The Director’s Corner will highlight how NIST’s cybersecurity, privacy, and information security-related projects are making a difference in the field and leading the charge to make positive changes.

I believe the greatest accomplishment for the division, and what I am most proud of, is how we work globally — and the way we work in an open, transparent, and inclusive process. This is especially true in the development and standardization of cryptography. This process, coupled with NISTs technical excellence in crypto, results in NIST encryption used by commercial IT products across the world. This underlying encryption enables billions of dollars of electronic commerce to function­; such as swiping credit cards at the grocery store — to online purchases — to major financial exchanges.

As we look at 2020 and beyond, NIST will update our encryption standards and ensure that encryption will continue to enable the economy and protect our livelihood. The biggest thing coming in the future (that you will hear more and more about), is in the area of quantum resistant cryptography. NIST is building open, transparent, and inclusive encryption methods with our global partners for new sets of encryption that are needed when quantum computing becomes a reality.

Quantum computing is a completely new method and architecture of conducting computational activity (or way to generate information). When a quantum computer finally is strong enough, some of our current encryption will become vulnerable. Therefore, NIST is proactively working to create new encryption standards. more>

Updates from Ciena

Dissecting a submarine network trial announcement
With network infrastructure as critical as submarine cables, we’re constantly seeing new cables being announced and new technological milestones being achieved – but what’s real? Learn the difference between a hero trial, real-world trial, and how you can read between the lines to help separate hype from reality.
By Brian Lavallée – 2019 has and will continue to be a very busy year in the submarine network industry, with several new cables announced, deployed, and already put into the Ready for Service (RFS) state. Why does the industry need so many new submarine cables? To maintain pace with our ever-growing affinity and utter addiction to Internet-based content, which continues to drive the 40% CAGR in intercontinental bandwidth demand, according to industry analysts at TeleGeography, along the submerged information superhighways that interconnect continental landmasses.

As submarine networks are rightfully considered critical infrastructure, deploying new and modern cables will improve the overall reliability of the global network that erases distance and borders to close the digital divide.

When new submarine cable performance milestones are achieved in trials, they’re actively promoted through blogs, press releases, tweets, and webinars to celebrate, and why not? These new submerged wet plant and modem technology advancements are truly astonishing and deserve this fanfare – but the context of these achievements must be fully understood to determine what’s actually deployable for live customer traffic in the real-world.

A “hero field trial” typically uses best-case conditions that are not applicable in the real-world for production traffic, such as using Start-of-Life (SOL) performance margins and not End-of-Life (EOL) performance margins. A “hero trial announcement” can be identified by terms like “evaluation board”, “experimental”, “forward-looking”, “proof of concept”, “demonstration”, “industry first”, and other similar rather vague terms.

A hero trial focuses on demonstrating new capabilities of a technology and/or product albeit without consideration of commercial requirements or conditions. That said, it’s a critical step in the evolution of any new technology.

In contrast to a hero field trial, a “real-world field trial” focuses on demonstrating new capabilities of a technology and/or product albeit with consideration of commercial requirements and conditions. This means that the offering can reliably carry customer traffic and maintain the agreed to Service Level Agreements (SLA) in the long-term. more>

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