How the city of Philadelphia plans to measure its digital divide
By Sarah Wray – The City of Philadelphia has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to rapidly quantify the number of households that are without Internet connectivity or relying on unstable, low-bandwidth options.
The RFP, issued with non-profit the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, seeks to enable the city to benchmark its progress on closing the digital divide and inform the next phase of policy, program and budget decisions.
Mark Wheeler, Chief Information Officer, City of Philadelphia, told Cities Today: “To address digital equity problems, the City of Philadelphia needs to be able to benchmark its impact with programmes like PHLConnectED.”
“The city seeks feedback from firms or research agencies who have the means to measure Internet use (by type of technology) by Philadelphia households. We are looking for any and all ways to achieve quantifiable measures,” said Wheeler. “Because we are smart city and innovation-oriented, proposals that make sophisticated use of commercial data modelling and artificial intelligence are of particular interest.”
Closing the digital divide has shot to the top of cities’ priority lists amid the pandemic as everything from work to shopping for essentials and even access to critical information and services has shifted online. Access to education has been a particularly urgent concern. more>
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Towards environmental efficiency in the age of AI
ITU – The rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies has sparked the need for a sustainable approach able to safeguard the environment. A recent ITU workshop provided a platform to discuss environmental efficiency in the age of AI, increasing automation, and smart manufacturing.
The workshop discussed emerging technologies’ potential to contribute to climate action as part of global efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also highlighted practical tools to evaluate environmental aspects of emerging technologies and discussed the role to be played by international standardization in supporting the expansion of this toolkit.
The workshop’s discussions fed into a meeting of the ITU Focus Group on environmental efficiency for AI and emerging technologies (FG-AI4EE). The group is analyzing the relationship between emerging technologies and environmental efficiency to benchmark best practices and provide a basis for new ITU standards. “This focus group is among the first global platforms for the environmental aspects of emerging technologies,” noted Paolo Gemma, Huawei, Co-Chair of the Focus Group.
The Focus Group is open to all interested parties. Sign-up as a participant and join the mailing list on the homepage. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. more>
Posted in Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, International Telecommunication Union, Internet, ITU, Skills, Technology
Derisking digital and analytics transformations
While the benefits of digitization and advanced analytics are well documented, the risk challenges often remain hidden.
By Jim Boehm and Joy Smith – bank was in the midst of a digital transformation, and the early stages were going well. It had successfully transformed its development teams into agile squads, and leaders were thrilled with the resulting speed and productivity gains. But within weeks, leadership discovered that the software developers had been taking a process shortcut that left customer usernames and passwords vulnerable to being hacked. The transformation team fixed the issue, but then the bank experienced another kind of hack, which compromised the security of customer data. Some applications had been operating for weeks before errors were detected because no monitors were in place to identify security issues before deployment. This meant the bank did not know who might have had access to the sensitive customer data or how far and wide the data might have leaked. The problem was severe enough that it put the entire transformation at risk. The CEO threatened to end the initiative and return the teams to waterfall development if they couldn’t improve application development security.
This bank’s experience is not rare. Companies in all industries are launching digital and analytics transformations to digitize services and processes, increase efficiency via agile and automation, improve customer engagement, and capitalize on new analytical tools. Yet most of these transformations are undertaken without any formal way to capture and manage the associated risks. Many projects have minimal controls designed into the new processes, underdeveloped change plans (or none at all), and often scant design input from security, privacy, and risk and legal teams. As a result, companies are creating hidden nonfinancial risks in cybersecurity, technical debt, advanced analytics, and operational resilience, among other areas. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures employed to control it have only exacerbated the problem, forcing organizations to innovate on the fly to meet work-from-home and other digital requirements.
McKinsey recently surveyed 100 digital and analytics transformation leaders from companies across industries and around the globe to better understand the scope of the issue. While the benefits of digitization and advanced analytics are well documented, the risk challenges often remain hidden. From our survey and subsequent interviews, several key findings emerged:
- Digital and analytics transformations are widely undertaken now by organizations in all sectors.
- Risk management has not kept pace with the proliferation of digital and analytics transformations—a gap is opening that can only be closed by risk innovation at scale.
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Science, Technology
Tagged analytics, Business improvement, Digital transformation, Internet, McKinsey, Skills
Can utilities have their multi-layered cake and eat it too?
Utilities are facing increasing bandwidth demands on their communications networks. Ciena’s Mitch Simcoe explains how modernizing networks to a private packet-optical fiber architecture can help utilities scale to support new smart grid applications.
By Mitch Simcoe – Utilities are increasingly in the eye of the storm these days. Whether it’s having to deal with hurricanes in the Gulf Coast over the last few months or wildfires on the West Coast, utilities have had to put more sensors out in the field to keep abreast of changing weather conditions and potential risks to their power grids. The increasing demands for utilities to show that they are carbon-free is also changing the way they generate and distribute energy. The one common denominator that utilities have is more data to collect and backhaul from their power grids, which is driving increasing demand on their communications networks.
Many utilities may not realize it, but recent advancements have resulted in several bandwidth-intensive applications and processes driving up demand on their networks:
- Video Surveillance
Security continues to be top of mind for utilities and security surveillance in the past has been more “after the fact”; where video surveillance is stored locally at the substation and only accessed after a security breach. Today’s approach is to backhaul all security video footage to a centralized data center and apply artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to proactively determine if a security breach is in the process of occurring. In those cases, security personnel can be dispatched on site in near-real time. Each video camera at a substation can generate 9 Gigabytes of data per day and a typical substation could have a dozen video cameras to surveil.
Prior to the big power outage of 2003 in the Northeast United States (where 50 million households lost power for two days), sensors on the power grid using SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) would sample the state of the grid about once every four seconds. This significant outage could have been avoided had the grid been sampling data more frequently. To address this, a device called a synchrophasor (not the Star Trek type!) was introduced, which would sample the state of the grid 30 to 60 times per second. This has allowed the grid to be more reliable but produces significantly more data to backhaul and process. Each synchrophasor PMU (Performance Measurement Unit) can generate 15 Gigabytes of data per day and all of that must be backhauled to a central data center for analysis.
- Smart Meters
In the US, over 50% of households are now serviced by a smart meter that measures your household’s power consumption every 15 minutes. Beyond their billing function, they help utilities track power consumption hotspots during peak usage. For a utility of 1 million households, which would be the middle range for most US Investor-owned Utilities (IOUs), this can generate 1 terabyte of data per day that needs to be backhauled to a central data center for processing.
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices
These include what we mentioned earlier: weather sensors and sensors on power equipment to proactively identify issues. Smart thermostats in homes is another growing trend which utilities are using to offer smart “on-demand” billing plans where you allow the utility to raise your thermostat during periods of peak usage during the hot summer months in exchange for a lower cents per kWh price.
For the first three categories we mentioned above, a utility of 1 million households would result in a daily requirement for data backhaul of 6 to 8 terabytes. With this amount of data to backhaul and process, it is no wonder utilities are exhausting the available capacity of their legacy communications networks.
The Information Technology (IT) group in a utility is tasked with managing many of these new applications associated with a smarter grid. Some utilities have been leasing copper-based TDM services for many years from service providers for smart grid, IT and substation traffic. The cost of this approach has been onerous and only gets more expensive as service providers are migrating their networks away from copper to fiber and wireless options. more>
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Regulations, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Ciena, Fiber optics, Internet, Skills, Technology
Designing large scale automation and robotic systems using Solid Edge
By David Chadwick – Precision Robotics and Automation Ltd (PARI) is a leading developer of automation and robotic systems globally. Their customers in the automotive sector include established giants like Ford, Chrysler, PSA, Daimler-Benz, Tata Motors, Mahindra, and new significant players like VinFast. PARI designs, manufactures and installs complete, automated systems including multi-station lines for machining and assembly of powertrain components and assemblies.
PARI has been a major user of Solid Edge for 15 years with 160 licenses deployed at their headquarters near Pune in India. Typical automation solutions deployed by PARI incorporate a wide variety of robots, actuators and sensors and other mechatronic items. These systems can comprise over 25,000 unique components.
Mangesh Kale, Managing Director of PARI describes their design process. “If a six-axis robot is required for a specific application then we use robots from major suppliers like FANUC, ABB and Kuka, or other makes specified by the customer. We typically receive 3D models from these manufacturers and we integrate these into our automation system designs. However, many applications demand gantry type robots that we design and manufacture ourselves. In a typical solution, about 60% of the design is using standardized commodities of PARI. However, custom parts are typically 40% of the design. For example, the gripper sub-assembly for any material handling solution is typically a custom design. This design meets specific application needs to handle components at different stages in the machining or assembly process. The customization required for assembly processes is even higher. We find that Solid Edge is a very powerful and flexible solution for designing these sub-systems.” more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Product, Science, Technology
Tagged Automation, Business improvement, Manufacturing, PLM, Robotics, Siemens, Skills, Technology