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A Week in IoT: Never mind Predictions, there’s enough to focus on in the Here and Now

By Jeremy Cowan

At this time of year every editor is drowning in predictions for the year ahead. To be honest, I prefer more solid information, says Jeremy Cowan. There is so much enterprise restructuring going on that we’re frantically busy with hard facts in the inter-related worlds of security, billing, car charging, and data management.

Thales CEO goes off ‘merger’ script announcing Gemalto acquisition

The week got off to a bang with Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) and Gemalto (Euronext Amsterdam and Paris: GTO) agreeing to merge.

Patrice Caine, Thales’s chairman and CEO, said: “The acquisition of Gemalto marks a key milestone in the implementation of Thales’s strategy. Together with Gemalto’s management, we have big ambitions based on a shared vision of the digital transformation of our industries and customers. We have a tremendous respect for Gemalto’s technological achievements, and … I welcome warmly Gemalto’s 15,000 employees to our Group. By combining our talents, Thales and Gemalto are creating a global leader in digital security.”

Over the past three years, Thales has significantly increased its focus on digital technologies, investing over €1 billion in connectivity, cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), in particular with the acquisition of Sysgo, Vormetric and Guavus. The integration of Gemalto is expected to accelerate this strategy, reinforcing Thales’s digital offering, across its five vertical markets (aeronautics, space, ground transportation, defence and security). Altogether, this new business unit will represent approximately 20% of Group revenues and rank among the top three players worldwide, with €3.5 billion revenues in the fast growing digital security market.

Combined with Gemalto’s digital security portfolio, Thales will be able to offer an end-to-end solution, to secure the full critical digital decision chains, from data creation in sensors to real-time decision-making. Clients are facing data security challenges in all sectors, including telcos, governments, banks, utilities, and other industries.

Thales will combine its digital businesses into Gemalto, which will continue to operate under its own brand as one of the seven Thales global business units. Philippe Vallée, Gemalto’s erstwhile CEO, will lead the combined digital security business.

The deal is a recommended all-cash offer for all issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Gemalto, for a price of €51.00 per share cum dividend.

Smartly’s mobile app helped by Capgemini to bill
Norwegians accurately for electric car charging

It’s not just enterprises that are repositioning themselves, entire countries are refocusing their business models. Norway is well-known as a global leader in renewable energy, having launched an initiative in 2016 to power all cars with renewable energy by 2025.

As part of this process, the country now wants to provide car owners with easy access to charging stations through housing co-operatives. In a new project, Smartly will encourage Norwegians to use of community chargers and move towards electric car usage by 2025.

With help from Capgemini, and its subsidiary Sogeti, Microsoft is now to build Smartly a cloud connected multi-platform mobile app. Using its expertise in cloud-native technology and its commitment to create measurable digital customer experiences, Smartly said it has moved from a proof-of-concept to a working app in […]

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Verizon to launch 5G residential broadband services in up to 5 markets in 2018

By IoT – Internet of Things

Leading the industry with the first commercial application of next-generation broadband services, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) recently announced it will launch wireless residential broadband services in three to five U.S. markets in 2018. As a first application of fifth-generation – or 5G — wireless, these services will use radio signals, rather than copper […]

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Emerging markets: a breeding ground for cyber attacks

By Zenobia Hegde

As emerging markets race to join the digital revolution they are fast becoming a fruitful feeding ground for cybercriminals, who are preying on their security weaknesses and using them to launch attacks on the rest of the world.

The United Nations (UN) recently reported that that shockingly only 38% of countries have a published cybersecurity strategy, highlighting a huge chasm between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and the ability to deploy cybersecurity capabilities and programs “to ensure a safe and appropriate use of technology as an enabler for economic development”, says Jan Howells, contract media specialist at Futurity Media.

The increasing use of mobile technology, the internet, online banking, ecommerce and social media have marked out developing countries such as Brazil, India, Zambia, Vietnam and Namibia as targets for cybercriminals who are singling out everyone from consumers to government and commercial organizations as a potential hit.

Due to increased cybersecurity and data privacy laws throughout developed countries, hackers are using emerging markets to test attacks and later launch them on wealthier countries with advanced defense strategies as it is much easier to protect their anonymity. The Wannacry ransomware attack, which caused more than 45,000 infected machines globally, was felt strongly in India which accounted for 5% of all infected machines, according to Kaspersky Labs. Hackers have also been known to test spear phishing attacks in French and English speaking African companies to iron out any flaws before launching the malware on advanced nations.

A recent report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS), for example, highlighted the fact that four out of five countries in the Latin America and Caribbean regions have “potentially devastating” vulnerabilities. Two out of three countries do not have a command and control center for cybersecurity, for example, and the majority of prosecutors lack the capacity to punish cybercrimes.

While some countries such as Colombia, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad are working to put cybersecurity strategies in place, although at varying degrees of maturity, others such as Costa Rica, Dominica and Paraguay are only just beginning the process.

Opening the doors to cybercriminals

The risks have grown as emerging markets have rushed to join the digital revolution, often without regard for security or viewing it as an afterthought. Latin America and the Caribbean region is now the fourth largest mobile market in the world and half its population have internet access. These risks will multiply with the advent of IoT, warns the IDB and OAS, if action isn’t taken now.

Consider El Salvador. It has a 30% internet penetration which is growing. However there are no awareness campaigns regarding the threats of cyberattacks, phishing and hacking and general public awareness is low. The private sector, however, has been quick to recognize its importance and is providing training for employees.

Barbados on the other hand has a much higher internet use rate, so you think would be switched on to cybersecurity. But you would be wrong. Around 75% of Barbados’s population is now connected to the internet, but cybersecurity stakeholders are still […]

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Libelium releases a cloud programming software service for the IoT

By Zenobia Hegde

At Smart City Expo in Barcelona (Spain), Libelium has unveiled a cloud software service to enhance its wireless sensor platform with intelligence based solutions. The Spanish company has released the first Programming Cloud Service that will reduce development costs, increase security and speed up the time to market of Waspmote and Waspmote Plug & Sense! users by removing both the code training and the “try and test” stages in the deployment process.

On the one hand, the new service facilitates the access to develop new IoT projects to technology companies that do not count with a special engineering team for the IoT. On the other hand, the new Programming Cloud Service is thought too for those companies that want to save time and resources getting the IoT technology ready for their applications.

The new strategic tool allows to create binary files for the Libelium’s Plug & Sense! sensor nodes in minutes by just filling in an online form with all the working options like sleeping cycle, data to include in the sensor frame, Cloud destination URL, networking options, etc. “After more than 10 years of experience in one of the most complete IoT programming API’s in the world, we have realised that our clients looks for simplicity: they just want to use the full programming potential in one click.

This is how we came with the idea of relaying all this complexity to a Cloud service that could create code and compile it for them in seconds”, David Gascón, Libelium’s CTO, points out.

Due to the importance of the security in the IoT, it is crucial for companies managing real deployments to have the ability to configure nodes correctly and easily with the appropriate encryption options.

The Programming Cloud Service creates the binary files based on solid and tested source codes generated during years by the Libelium engineering team. Then it generates the algorithm specified by the user and compile it on the Cloud using the last version of the API and libraries. This way users may be confident that all the binaries generated contains all the improvements of the latest API versions.

“Smart Cities projects based on IoT need less costs and more simplicity on development stages to see the light and Libelium is working in both objectives to ease the IoT really take off”, Alicia Asín, Libelium’s CEO.

Alicia Asín

With this launching, Libelium offers different types of licenses for small, medium and large IoT deployments. Licenses titled as “Basic” and “PRO”, that enable the management from 5 to 20 nodes, are perfect to create binary files one by one. Besides, “Elite” licenses allow to create up to 100 binary files in batch by just one click. With the new service no SDK’s, API’s or compilers are needed any more. “Now you can program the sensor nodes using a mobile phone or a tablet, as just a web browser is required to fill the programming options form”, Libelium’s CTO says.

Anyway, the libraries and compiler keep accessible for experienced developers who want to keep coding and using all the API options and the flexibility of programming their own binaries.

In the near future, Libelium will offer on its cloud services platform new licenses for the management of MySignals […]

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Global customer engagement spending by utilities is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2026

By Zenobia Hedge

A new report from Navigant Research analyses the market for utility customer engagement solutions across the web, call center, billing, and outage notification segments, providing forecasts through 2026.

Today’s electric utility customers expect more insight into their energy usage, as well as a service experience on par with that of industry leaders such as Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Uber. Changing tools for engagement, such as online, mobile, and social networks, are helping utilities to meet those expectations in the face of the most competitive environment that the electric power industry has ever experienced.

“Engaging customers used to entail sending a monthly energy bill, dealing with high bill complaints, and finding resolutions for customers experiencing power outages,” says Michael Kelly, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Today, utilities must work to engage customers proactively through multiple channels—and for multiple purposes.”

Michael Kelly

Websites with sophisticated self-service capabilities, mobile applications, and online chat support are just a few of the engagement channels now considered standard, according to the report. Investment and support from senior utility leadership is growing as utilities adapt to evolving customer expectations and explore new technologies aimed at improving the customer experience.

The report, Customer Management and Experience Technologies, examines the drivers and challenges related to customer engagement solutions. The study focuses on four key segments for applications and technologies aimed at improving the customer experience: web, call centre, billing, and outage notification. Global market forecasts, segmented by region, technology segment, type, and category, extend through 2026.

The report also provides in-depth profiles of key vendors in the customer engagement market and examines several utility deployment case studies. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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