Technically Speaking

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Over the past six months, there’s been a lot of talk about building a new, faster, better stronger Internet. A chunk of the discussion is driven by the proliferation of 4K video, the next new Big Thing being pushed by the broadcast industry since 3D video up and died. I think we all need to take a deep breath and get a reality check on the headaches that exist trying to tweak the status quo.

The current Internet core is fiber-based with some links ranging as high as 100 Gbps with more typical speeds in the 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps range. Moving out of the core into the edge is a mishmash of copper, coax cable and fiber connectivity, with speeds from sub megabit to gigabit or faster, depending on the technology available. Add in mobile connectivity and climbing wireless speeds in the megabit to tens of megabits, with promises of speeds up to near gigabit wireless. Read the full post

Big Data, Big Privacy Issues

In the world of Big Data – privacy and security have two very distinct meanings and functions, but they are inter-related. Security is related to the enforcement of policies related to computer use and electronic communications. These would include identity and authentication; authorization; availability; confidentiality; integrity and auditability. A failure in security becomes a threat to privacy, but violations of privacy can exist without a failure in security.

The promise of Big Data collection and its analysis is that the derived data can be used for purposes that benefit individuals, the economy, national security, medical research and urban planning – to name only a few. However, it is the amount of data being collected as well as the unexpected uses of data that are causing concerns related to privacy. Read the full post

The Era of Big Data

It never ceases to amaze me how while everyone is looking for the next big thing, it quietly sneaks up unnoticed all around us. I remember when after the cellphone revolution everyone was looking for the next killer app, predicting amazing things, and then it turned out to be teenager driven SMS texting. And who really saw the coming social networks revolution until we were immersed within it. Not me. And now it is happening again with Big Data.

“Big Data” refers to the mining of the truly massive data sets that now exist in the cloud to come up with new insights. An example frequently used is Google’s Flu Trends map. By mining internet searches, and where and when they occur, the internet search provider is able to map out flu prevalence even before doctors report the cases and the CDC analyzes the resulting data. But this is just an early foreshadowing of what will be possible in the future. Read the full post

An Attempt at Clarifying the Net Neutrality Debate

After a quiet period both in Europe and in North America, the Net Neutrality debate has flared up again at the same time in both regions. The reasons are different, and the outcomes look to be different too, but the confusion around the topic and the way it’s covered by the mainstream press is unfortunately all too familiar. In this article, I will try to expose the situation as clearly as possible and highlight how Europe and the US are taking different paths to tackle it. Read the full post

Is Europe the Smart City Super Power?

It’s difficult to imagine how a financial crisis could help a city. How it could stimulate thought and drive innovation forward. Yet it appears this is exactly what’s been happening in Europe over the past few years. While many of us have focused on the continent’s financial recovery and growth, others have been busily using Europe’s economic doldrums to kick-start long-term change and create a new vision for a smart and sustainable future.

Europe’s success in the drive to develop successful smart cities is undeniable. A quick glance at any of the recent raft of smart city league tables and one fact is immediately noticeable – Europe dominates them all. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Vienna – European cities are being championed as role models for the rest of the world to study and replicate. This stands in stark contrast to a number of years ago when European innovation in this space lagged behind the U.S. and even China. Read the full post