by Ian Bertram | November 1, 2012 | Comments Off
In the Australian state of Victoria, detailed information about electricity customers’ power usage, which gives insights into when a house is occupied, is being shared with third parties including mail houses, debt collectors, data processing analysts and government agencies.
This is exactly what Gartner has predicted: a blurring of social and operational technologies (OT) resulting in new compliance and risk issues.
Some have speculated on the ability to infer home occupant activity based on patterns in electrical usage. You’d not only be able to tell when the house was occupied, but you’d be able to track a lot of activities, because of their distinct energy use signatures.
I know of someone who publishes her home energy use on her blog using the monitor system that came with her solar system. That’s a screaming advertisement for occupancy. The level of risk that this form of attack represents is debatable, but it’s a question that’s worth asking.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who avoids posting anything on social networks that sends the message “our house is unoccupied.” Sure, the common thief is not sophisticated enough to take advantage of FB—yet. But it has already happened in the US.
The big risk is not about social media or social networks but about the accessibility of devices to/via a public network. Whether a device sends/receives tweets presents only a slightly different risk from that device handling email, SMS, voice recognition, etc. The specific vector for transmission is a minor issue. Accessibility of the device is the core risk.
Too much of the privacy conversation focuses on secrecy. People are lousy at keeping secrets and community is based on shared information and the demonstration of a willingness to share personal data. The privacy conversation should focus on the use/abuse of personal data. Secrecy is a lousy control.
You might find it a bit absurd to discuss privacy concerns about power usage in a society where people (at least some) tell you where ALL of their tattoos are and who they’re sleeping with in their Facebook account, or brags about all of the technology they have in their home on Twitter. This isn’t a technology problem, it’s about the use of the intelligence derived from said technology. For the energy and utility companies, this will no doubt be a topic for policy changes regarding customer data, but utilities are used to that kind of discussion and have been for decades. It’s a question of doing it rather than being aware of it.
The primary beneficiary of data derived from a number of “Internet of Everything” (IOE) points like smart meters for utilities will be the titans of commerce. Understanding patterns of behaviour of actual and potential customers just feeds the commerce engine like nothing else can. No doubt a new class of statisticians and analysts will arise to big-data mine IOE endpoints and weave the story of life together for potential customer profiles.
We voluntarily (for now) give the electric utility more detailed information about our electrical usage to give ourselves a benefit – the utility will theoretically charge us less because it can build less generating capacity because it is monitoring usage more closely, and it can turn off our appliances remotely to cut demand in peak periods and so on. The decision on how to share the benefit – what proportion of the gain will go to the “greedy” utility and what to the “greedy” consumer – will be settled in a complex negotiation among consumers and utilities. Government is the referee in this discussion.
Already in the US your insurance company will lower your car insurance bill if you agree to have an on-board device that allows it to monitor your driving habits. We move into George Orwell’s 1984 voluntarily to save $ 250 per year. In the future, maybe only the rich or the very poor will be able to afford privacy (when you having nothing, there is not much to monitor and not much reason to monitor you).
So we may be selling our privacy at too low a price. Gartner wrote a research note on the “information based” utility of the future. It makes for interesting reading. My colleague Kristian Steenstrup is the man to talk to about this – he has led much of Gartner’s research on OT, particularly in the energy and utilities sector.
Category: Uncategorized Tags:
by Ian Bertram | September 20, 2012 | Comments Off
With protest actions and subsequent riots happening around the world over recent You Tube posts in the US, many being organised, promoted and commentated on through social media, there are questions being asked about how much control should governments put on these new forms of communication. The alternative question is, do tougher laws then impinge on many countries right to freedom of speech?
In Australia there have been calls recently by personalities hit by vile comments on social media from so-called trolls for stricter penalties against these people. Many politicians have jumped on the band wagon calling for tougher actions by law enforcement, one quote was to ‘replace the trolls’ keyboards with handcuffs’. There has been some equally ignorant and reactionary reporting of the issue by mainstream media, stirring up FUD about social media in general. The question is really how far is too far or should we all just take our mothers’ advice of “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me!”. The best course of action is to ignore the trolls. It’s hard to do in practice, but in these kinds of situations anything you say in response will only feed the frenzy, and it is a frenzy!.
A positive out of last weekend’s events in Sydney showed that police, through sophisticated monitoring of social media, were able to rapidly respond to an impending threat and were able to resource appropriately and not be caught short handed.
The social media debate will continue to rage. Join me at Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast 12-15 Nov to hear a keynote by Dom Sagolla, co-creator of Twitter and author of ‘140 characters: a style guide for the short form’. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about the use and abuse of his creation as a communication channel.
Category: Uncategorized Tags:
by Ian Bertram | August 16, 2012 | Comments Off
I’ve been preparing for my presentation at next week’s Applications Summit being held in Sydney. The focus of this year’s event will be on the reinvention of software for mobile, cloud and the future web. Application strategy managers, software development leaders and enterprise architects will learn how to overhaul their application portfolio to support business growth and innovation.
As well as running a roundtable on how to build an analytics capability (the flavour of the year with many organisations – for good reason) I’m giving a presentation on “Using Events and Analytics to Create Intelligent Business Operations”. In it, I’ll be applying the concept of the OODA loop to business. OODA stands for Observe, Orientate, Decide and Act, and is a concept that was originally applied to military or combat situations. The concept was devised by military strategist Colonel John Boyd, to help troops continually absorb information from different sources, process that information in the context of the situation they are in, react to that outcome and make a decision that will direct the focus and energies to defeat the adversary and survive.
Many believe OODA today is more applicable to security situations due to the Observe and Orientate components, but as someone once told me – everything in life is a supply chain. Life’s has a start, middle and end with multiple processes in between; marriage is like a supply chain, some better and some worse; if you get sick and go to hospital you start at one end of the supply chain and pop out the other side supposedly all healed. All of these things can get broken down into a process whereby you need to make a decision and act upon something before moving to the next part of the chain. At each stage of this process you obviously want to make the most informed and best decision possible – that bit is obvious. However the situation in which you make a decision can change based on many factors.
So this concept of the OODA loop is more relevant today for operation decisions than ever before as we try and make every process within our business more automated, more efficient, more accurate, more targeted.
We as individuals make hundreds of decision each day, and we contextualise them on our surroundings. For instance, what should I have to eat, it’s morning and it’s cold, so I’ll have hot porridge for breakfast rather than cereal with cold milk as that will warm me up and make me feel better.
Many people within organisations make suboptimal decisions because they don’t take advantage of the information that is available to them from customers, suppliers, partners, the external world or even their own companies information in other departments.
This of course is where analytics comes in. The question comes down to how can you use the information and apply the observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop to analyse business situations to determine what kinds of real-time intelligence to apply, for a better result. That’s what I’ll be covering at next week’s conference, hope to see you there.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: