Category Archives: Internet of Things

HCL and Microsoft launch IoT incubation centre

IoT cloud iconIndia based global services company HCL Technologies has launched an Internet of Things (IoT) incubation centre in Redmond, the home of Microsoft.

The two vendors will use the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite to create apps for industry and manufacturing and the Life Sciences and Healthcare sector. According to HCL these are the two key high growth vertical markets in which demand for IoT apps will be strongest.

The top three use cases named by HCL will be in industrial automation, remote patient monitoring and fleet management, but there will be a variety of other apps under development. The centre will develop new methods of using real-time analytics, sensory data and rapid co-creation, says HCL.

The Incubation Centre will aim to combine HCL’s skills in engineering and product lifecycle management, systems integration and infrastructure services with Microsoft’s leadership in IoT, it said.

IoT WoRKS by HCL promises to get more performance out of any company’s existing asset investment and create new services with measurable business outcomes. HCL’s offering has three phases, Define, Build and Run, to help design enterprise IoT programmes, develop IoT systems and manage the uptime of enterprise systems respectively.

“Industrial IoT is the next big productivity and revenue generation lever for enterprises worldwide,” said Sukamal Banerjee, EVP & Head of IoT WoRKS’s Business Unit at HCL Technologies.

Last week BCN reported that Microsoft has put its new Azure IoT hub on general availability. It claims the new system will be a simple bridge between its customers’ devices with their systems in the cloud. The new preconfigured IoT offering, when used with the Azure IoT Suite, can be used to create a machine to machine network and a storage system for its data in minutes, it claims.

Microsoft creates Azure hub for Internet of Things

azure iotMicrosoft has put its new Azure IoT hub on general availability. In a statement, it claims the new system will be a simple bridge between its customers’ devices with their systems in the cloud. It claims that the new preconfigured IoT offering, when used with the Azure IoT Suite, can be used to create a machine to machine network and a storage system for its data in minutes.

The new Azure IoT Hub promises ‘secure, reliable two-way communication from device to cloud and cloud to device’. It uses the open protocols widely adopted in machine to machine technology, such as MQTT, HTTPS and AMQPS. Microsoft claims the IoT Hub will easily integrate with other Azure services like Azure Machine Learning and Azure Stream Analytics. The Machine Learning service uses algorithms in an attempt to spot patterns (such as unusual activity, hacking attempts or commercial trends) that might be useful to data scientists. Azure Stream Analytics allows data scientists and decision makers to act on those insights in real time, through a system with the capacity to simultaneously monitor millions of devices and take automatic action.

Microsoft launched the Azure IoT Suite in September 2015 with a pledge to guarantee standards through its Certified for IoT programme, promising to verify partners that work with operating systems such as Linux, mbed, RTOS and Windows. Microsoft claims its initial backers were Arduino, Beagleboard, Freescale, Intel, Raspberry Pi, Samsung and Texas Instruments. In the three months since the IoT Suite’s launch it has added ‘nearly 30’ more partners, it claims, notably Advantech, Dell, HPE, and Libelium.

“IoT is poised for dramatic growth in 2016 and we can’t wait to see what our customers and partners will continue to build on our offerings. We’re just getting started,” wrote blog author Sam George, Microsoft’s partner director for Azure IoT.

Wind River and IBM to integrate their IoT clouds

IoT cloud iconIntel’s IoT software subsidiary Wind River is to work with IBM to make Industrial IoT projects run smoother and more efficiently. The two companies will work together on a series of initiatives aimed at clarifying their processes for each other, offering guidance to third parties and simplifying the task of integrating their respective systems with each other.

A published series of instructions, which IBM describes as ‘edge to cloud recipes’ aims to guide customers on how to integrate services from the IBM Watson IoT Cloud Platform with products from the Wind River Helix portfolio.

Any customers who use the recipes could, in theory, connect industrial devices running Wind River software to the IBM Watson IoT Cloud Platform and get access to IBM Bluemix cloud services and analytics. This, says Wind River, will help IoT developers develop smart connected devices more easily by cutting the time they’ll spend searching for relevant information and variables.

The IBM and Wind River ‘recipes’ and reference material will also help users with tasks such as device management and help users to apply IBM’s machine learning to the IoT. Other guidance that Wind River intends to offer clients and partners includes help on managing devices and systems in different vertical markets. Among the specialities on which guidance is available are smart buildings, transport, factory automation and the health sector.

Under the arrangement Wind River and IBM will provide elements that can be combined for a complete ‘edge-to-cloud’ IoT solution (a system connecting remote peripherals to the cloud). Detail is available on a range of Wind River operating systems, including VxWorks, Rocket and Pulsar Linux and Helix Cloud (Wind River’s family of software as a service offerings). Instructions are available on how to integrate each of these, in turn, with a range of IBM systems including IBM Watson IoT Cloud Platform, IBM Bluemix, and IBM IoT Real-Time Insights for processing device data.

Wind River partners with Roland Berger and Ricardo to develop automatic driving systems

connected-car-normalIoT software company Wind River is to develop car automation software with civil engineering specialist Ricardo and consultancy Roland Berger.

In its car-making partnerships, Wind River will provide automotive software along with architectural and engineering support while Ricardo will integrate it with its physical vehicle systems. The projects will range in scope from advanced in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) to safe and secure advanced driver assist system (ADAS) technologies to autonomous driving.

Autonomous driving calls for advances in software, physical vehicle systems and intelligent connectivity within and outside of the car, according to Marques McCammon, general manager of connected vehicles at Wind River. These will only become a reality if Ricardo can integrate them, which means bringing together new vistas of algorithm development, sensor fusion and hardware integration, according to McCammon.

Wind River has also announced another partnership with global consultancy Roland Berger to help it confront the ‘slew of new challenges’ created by the jump in safety and security demands that all car makers now face. “Many in the industry are currently playing catch-up and looking to experts to fill in the gaps,” said Wolfgang Bernhart, senior partner and automotive expert at Roland Berger.

Car making clients of the two consultancies will receive software strategy direction from Wind River and Roland Berger. Wind River will provide software management, architectural and engineering support as each new car model’s development goes from the strategy exploration phase to the proof-of-concept and production phases. Roland Berger will deliver market insights, trend and business analysis will help design new innovative business models.

Meanwhile, Wind River’s autonomy within Intel looks set to end as plans have emerged to integrate it into the parent company by 2017. A statement outlining the plan was sent to Wind River employees earlier this week.

Intel bought Wind River for $884 million in 2009 and it has remained independent, but in early January president Barry Mainz left to be chief executive of MobileIron. An Intel spokeswoman told Fortune that incorporation of Wind River would be a logical next step. However, while the rationale is to align Wind River, it will retain its branding and continue to support non-Intel processors, the spokeswoman said.

OVH claims integration of TimeSeries PaaS with Sigfox IoT cloud

France-based ISP turned cloud operator OVH has announced that its TimeSeries platform service is now integrated with the IoT simcloud service provided by IoT specialist Sigfox.

The fine tuning of the two services was announced at the CES 2016 show in Las Vegas, where the two service providers demonstrated showed how the OVH TimeSeries platform as a service (PaaS) can analyse and act on data being fed in from 7,000 sensors connected to the Sigfox IoT.

OVH claimed that machine-learning algorithms within the TimeSeries service can identify patterns and automatically trigger actions in response to the perceived situation. Having started as an ISP in Roubaix, France OVH has evolved to become a cloud service provider in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Finland.

In November BCN reported how it has launched a public cloud service in the UK with customisable security as protection against cyber attacks becomes a major selling point alongside open systems mobility. It recently expanded its offering into the US and Canada. It currently has 220,000 servers in 17 data centres but claims it will have opened 12 new data centres by 2018.

The new integration means that now companies can use OVH’s PaaS TimeSeries application programming interfaces to retrieve data. This frees companies from having to build and manage their own databases, it claims.

The integration and demo at CES will help companies to understand the entire value chain of the Internet of Things, according to OVH CEO Laurent Allard. “A turn-key system for storing and managing data and hosting business applications makes it much simpler, quicker and cheaper to get running with the IoT,” said Allard.

In other news, Sigfox has also announced a pilot programme with the French postal service company La Poste. The two companies are collaborating to invent a new of online postal.

The Domino programme aims to automate the ordering of parcel pickup and delivery via Sigfox’s IoT network. A regional rollout will start in the first half of 2016.

Toyota to build massive data centre and recruit partners to support smart car fleet

Toyota smart car standCar maker Toyota is to build a massive new IT infrastructure and data centre to support all the intelligence to be broadcast its future range of smart cars. It is also looking for third party partners to develop supporting services for its new fleet of connected vehicles.

The smart car maker unveiled its plans for a connected vehicle framework at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

A new data centre will be constructed and dedicated to collecting information from new Data Communication Modules (DCM), which are to be installed on the frameworks of all new vehicles. The Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC) – to be stationed in Toyota’s Smart Center – will analyse everything sent by the DCMs and ‘deploy services’ in response. As part of the connected car regime, Toyota cars could automatically summon the emergency services in response to all accidents, with calls being triggered by the release of an airbag. The airbag-induced emergency notification system will come as a standard feature, according to Toyota.

The new data comms modules will appear as a feature in 2017 for Toyota models in the US market only, but it will roll out the service into other markets later, as part of a plan to build a global DCM architecture by 2019. A global rollout out is impossible until devices are standardised across the globe, it said.

Toyota said it is to invite third party developers to create services that will use the comms modules. It has already partnered with UIEvolution, which is building apps to provide vehicle data to Toyota-authorised third-party service providers.

Elsewhere at CES, Nvidia unveiled artificial-intelligence technology that will let cars sense the environment and decide their best course. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang promised that the DRIVE PX 2 will have ten times the performance of the first model. The new version will use an automotive supercomputing platform with 8 teraflops of processing power that can process 24 trillion deep learning operations a second.

Volvo said that next year it lease out 100 XC90 luxury sports utility vehicles that will use DRIVE PX 2 technology to drive autonomously around Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg. “The rear-view mirror is history,” said Huang.

IoT comes to the CES: opening up the home to the sharing economy

The Internet of Things vector illustration.One of the most intriguing corners of this year’s CES is the dedicated SuperSession on ‘IoT Business Strategies: Partnerships for the Sharing Economy’. After all, while almost anyone in Las Vegas this January will be able to tell you that IoT will (surely) have a huge part to play in the future of consumer tech, very few people will be able to tell you exactly how

The main current consumer thrust in IoT, for example, remains home automation, and specifically security. Yet there is often little really inspiring about this proposed application of IoT. In part, this is because it arguably fails to offer us anything really new. A secure home is a secure home is a secure home, however this is achieved, and if home automation currently offers greater control and security, it does so at significantly more expense.

Much more interesting is the USP of home automation innovator August.  Co-Founder & CEO Jason Johnson, who’ll be appearing at the SuperSession panel in Vegas next month, took the time to tell us precisely what distinguishes August’s approach to home automation from all the other contending companies.

“We definitely make products that fall under the security category,” he says. “But we have a kind of unique philosophy.  We’ve looked at the front door, and asked, if you can give control over that part of the home in a new way, what could that do for consumers?”

August concluded that the answer to this question lay was in combination of home automation with the booming sharing economy in particular and ecommerce in general – both of which an automated front door could make much more seamless and better integrated into users’ lives.

“Traditionally the lock on our doors has been designed to keep people out. We have a philosophy that, if we can make a really good access system, a different kind of lock and security for the front door, it could be used not just to keep people out but to let them in – a kind of different paradigm to what a lock is. Our vision is, if we do that really well, then when I get home from work tonight, my dog will have been walked, my groceries delivered, my UPS packages delivered, my house cleaned – maybe there’s fresh flowers on my dining room table, my dry cleaning has been delivered and it’s hanging in my closet, my dirty clothes have been taken away.”

The ideal behind August is that, for all of those service providers requiring access to the home to deliver (a requirement presently resulting in a chaos of keys, calls and clashing schedules), instant, temporary access could be delivered the second the arrangement is made. Johnson offers an example from personal experience.

“I have a vacation rental home up in Napa, this little tiny shack,” he says. “I made it available on Airbnb and right away I had to deal with the keys. So, first, we had to hide a key somewhere on the property. Later, of course, I started issuing keys from within the August app. And you can do that. You go to the app, you type in the person’s name, their phone number, the days, the hours they have access and I issue the keys from the app and they show up and can get access to the house.”

However, the experience became that much more seamless (and therefore satisfying) following a software integration between the two services. “Now, literally as I’m talking to you, someone could be doing an Airbnb booking for my place: and the August app will automatically provision a temporary key to that guest. I’ve done nothing.”

The opportunity for such a provision to facilitate e-commerce per se is striking.

“One of the things that cause us most to think twice about ordering something online is the challenge of, ‘how am I going to physically get that?’ At our office, we have a lot of employees that get packages delivered here, and they stack up and then they got to haul the packages home on the bus or they ride a bicycle and have to haul the packages home on their bikes. So people think twice about ordering things online! Nobody wants to come home and have that little sticker on the wall saying missed delivery.”

You could be forgiven for thinking that, indeed, home automation and the internet of services look made for one another. Indeed, technologies often seem to complement one another. It is presumably this manner of symbiosis that will allow IoT to flourish in the years to come, to offer consumers new experiences. Objects will not merely be connected and that’s it – rather, through that connectivity, new combinations and opportunities come to light.

There will be few more explicit examples of this approach on display at this year’s CES than at the ‘IoT Business Strategies’ SuperSession. Attendance is certainly a key part in August’s plans for 2016.

“The idea of a smart lock and a smart video doorbell is still a new concept. The challenge for us in 2016 – and starting at CES – is to move into the mainstream. How do you get, not just early tech adopters, but mainstream consumers to embrace these technologies and put them in our homes? That’s what we need to do over the course of 2016.”

Click here for more information about  the‘IoT Business Strategies: Partnerships for the Sharing Economy’ at CES, Las Vegas, January 7 2016

HPE launches Edgeline systems and Aruba Sensors for IoT

HPE datacenterHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced a new invention that means that Internet of Things (IoT) systems can decentralise all their processing and devolve decision-making to local areas. It has also unveiled plans to simplify the roll out of IoT services with the Meridian cloud service.

HPE’s new Edgeline IoT Systems 10 and 20 are designed to sit at the network edge, so that customers can aggregate and analyze data in real-time, more quickly and securely, and control devices and things, it says. By keeping data localised, they can also alleviate traffic across the network.

The systems come in ruggedized, mobile and rack-mounted versions and are aimed at a variety of industry sectors, with HPE specifically naming the logistics, transport, health, government and retail sectors. The new systems are certified to work with Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite.

The Edgeline range is the fruit of a partnership with Intel to create open systems for the IoT market. Models include the HPE IoT System EL10, a rugged entry level priced edge gateway designed with long lifecycle components and the pricier but more powerful HPE IoT System EL20. The Edgeline range is built on HPE’s Moonshot system architecture, which is designed to use less energy and space than typical servers.

Meanwhile one of HPE’s companies, Aruba, has unveiled a cloud-based beacon management system for multivendor Wi-Fi networks.

The new, enterprise-grade IoT Aruba Sensor is the next wave of Aruba’s Mobile Engagement strategy, it says. The sensors combine a small Wi-Fi client and BLE radio, so that organizations can remotely monitor and manage Aruba Beacons across existing multivendor Wi-Fi networks from a central location using the Meridian cloud service.

The upshot is that any company can introduce location-based services more easily, using Aruba Beacons and Sensors at the edge and the Meridian cloud service to interface with business and analytics applications.

HPE’s goal is to simplify IoT for customers and drive more business, according to Antonio Neri, HPE’s general manager. “The new solutions today are important elements of our strategy to  deliver more connectivity and computing power at the edge,  help customers maximize the value and minimize the risks from IoT at the speed of business,” said Neri.

How Silicon Valley is disrupting space

spaceship close upWe tend to think of the Space Industry as quintessentially cutting edge. As such it feels awfully strange to hear somebody compare it to the pre-Uber taxi industry – nowadays the definition of an ecosystem ripe for seismic technological disruption.

Yet comparing the two is exactly what Sean Casey (Founder and Managing Director of the Silicon Valley Space Centre) is doing, during a phone conversation ahead of his appearance at February’s IoT Data Analytics & Visualization event in Palo Alto.

“With all Silicon Valley things there’s kind of a standard formula that involves disruptive technologies and large markets. Uber’s that way. Airbnb is the same,” says Casey. “Space is dominated by a bunch of large companies, making big profits from the government and not really interested in disrupting their business. The way they’re launching their rockets today is the same way they’ve been doing it over the last forty years. The reliability has increased, but the price hasn’t come down.”

Nowadays, however, a satellite needn’t cost hundreds of millions of dollars. On the contrary, costs have even come down to as little as $150,000. Talk about economising! “Rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on individual satellites, we can fly hundreds of satellites at a greatly reduced cost and mitigate the risk of a single failure,” Casey says. In addition, he explains that these satellites have tremendous imaging and communications capabilities – technology leveraged from a very everyday source. “The amount of processing power that you can fly in a very small satellite comes from a tremendous processing power that we all have in our cell phones.”

Entrepreneur Elon Musk was one of the first to look at this scenario, founding SpaceX. “Maybe he was bringing some new technology to the table,” says Casey, “but he’s basically just restructured his business to make launch costs cheaper.”

However, due perhaps in part to the historical proximity of the US government and the Space Industry, regulatory opposition to newcomers has been particularly strident. It is a fact that clearly irritates Casey.

“Elon Musk has had to fight regulatory obstructions put up by people in Washington that said we want to keep you out of the business – I mean, how un-American is that? We’re supposed to be a capitalist country that embraces new opportunity and change. Get a grip! That stuff is temporary, it’s not long term. The satellite industry is often reluctant to fly new technologies because they don’t think they can sell that approach to their government customers.”

Whereas lower prices open the door to new customers, and new use cases – often moving hand-in-hand with developments in analytics. This brings us to perhaps the most interesting aspect of a very interesting discussion. There are, on the one hand, a number of immediate feasible use cases that come to Casey’s mind – analysing the flow of hospital visits to anticipate and epidemics, for example, not to mention a host of economic usages, such as recording and analysing shipping, resources, harvests and more…

On the other hand, while these satellites will certainly offer clients a privileged vantage point from which to view and analyse the world (we don’t refer to the ‘bird’s eye view’ for nothing), precisely what discoveries and uses will be discovered up there in the coming years remains vague – albeit in a tantalising sort of way.

“It’s one of those things that, if you’ve never looked at it. If you’ve never had that data before, you kind of don’t know what you’re going to find. After this is all played out, you’ll see that this was either a really big step forward or it was kind of a bust and really didn’t amount to anything.  It’s sort of like asking the guys at Twitter  to show that their company’s going to be as big as it became after they’d done their Series A Financing – because that’s where these satellite companies are. Most of them are Series A, some of them are Series B – SpaceX is a lot further on.”

One thing that looks certain is that Silicon Valley is eyeing up space as its Final Frontier. From OneWeb and O3b founder Greg Wyler’s aspiration to connect the planet, to Google’s  acquisition of Skybox and Monsanto’s acquisition of Climate Corp – plus a growing number of smaller investments in space-focussed start-ups, not to mention the aforementioned SpaceX and Amazon’s more overt investment in rocket science, capitalism is coming to the cosmos.

Sean Casey will be appearing at IoT Data Analytics & Visualization (February 9 – 11, 2016 Crowne Plaza Palo Alto). Click here to register.

The IoT in Palo Alto: connecting America’s digital city

jonathan_reichental_headshot_banffPalo Alto is not your average city. Established by the founder of Stanford University, it was the soil from which Google, Facebook, Pinterest and PayPal (to name a few) have sprung forth. Indeed, Palo Alto has probably done more to transform human life in the last quarter century than any other. So, when we think of how the Internet of Things is going to affect life in the coming decades, we can be reasonably sure where much of expected disruption will originate.

All of which makes Palo Alto a great place to host the first IoT Data Analytics & Visualization event (February 9 – 11, 2016). Additionally fitting: the event is set to be kicked off by Dr. Jonathan Reichental, the city’s Chief Information Officer: Reichental is the man entrusted with the hefty task of ensuring the city is as digital, smart and technologically up-to-date as a place should be that has been called home by the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Thus far, Reichental’s tenure has been a great success. In 2013, Palo Alto was credited with being the number one digital city in the US, and has made the top five year upon year – in fact, it so happens that, following our long and intriguing telephone interview, Reichental is looking forward to a small celebration to mark its latest nationwide ranking.

BCN: Jonathan, you’ve been Palo Alto’s CIO now for four years. What’s changed most during that time span?

Dr Jonathan Reichental: I think the first new area of substance would be open government. I recognise open government’s been a phenomenon for some time, but over the course of the last four years, it has become a mainstream topic that city and government data should be easily available to the people. That it should be machine readable, and that an API should be made available to anyone that wants the data. That we have a richer democracy by being open and available.

We’re still at the beginning however. I have heard that there are approximately 90,000 public agencies in the US alone. And every day and week I hear about a new federal agency or state or city of significance who are saying, ‘you can now go to our data portal and you can access freely the data of the city or the public agency. The shift is happening but it’s got some way to go.

Has this been a purely technical shift, or have attitudes had to evolve as well?

I think if you kind of look at something like cloud, cloud computing and cloud as a capability for government – back when I started ‘cloud’ was a dirty word. Many government leaders and government technology leaders just weren’t open to the option of putting major systems off-premise. That has begun to shift quite positively.

I was one of the first to say that cloud computing is a gift to government. Cloud eliminates the need to have all the maintenance that goes with keeping systems current and keeping them backed up and having disaster recovery. I’ve been a very strong proponent of that.

Then there’s social media  – government has fully embraced that now, having been reluctant early on. Mobile is beginning to emerge though it’s still very nascent. Here in Palo Alto we’re trying to make all services that make sense accessible via smart phone. I call it ‘city in a box.’ Basically, bringing up an app on the smart phone you should be able to interact with government – get a pet license, pay a parking fee, pay your electrical bill: everything should really be right there on the smartphone, you shouldn’t need to go to City Hall for many things any more.

The last thing I’d say is there has been an uptake in community participation in government. Part of it is it’s more accessible today, and part of it is there’s more ways to do so, but I think we’re beginning also to see the fruits of the millennial generation – the democratic shift in people wanting to have more of a voice and a say in their communities. We’re seeing much more in what is traditionally called civic engagement. But ‘much more’ is still not a lot. We need to have a revolution in this space for there to be significant change to the way cities operate and communities are effective.

Palo Alto is hosting the IoT Data Analytics & Visualization in February. How have you innovated in this area as a city?

One of the things we did with data is make it easily available. Now we’re seeing a community of people in the city and beyond, building solutions for communities. One example of that is a product called Civic Insight. This app consumes the permit data we make available and enables users to type in an address and find out what’s going on in their neighbourhood with regard to construction and related matters.

That’s a clear example of where we didn’t build the thing, we just made the data available and someone else built it. There’s an economic benefit to this. It creates jobs and innovation – we’ve seen that time and time again. We saw a company build a business around Palo Alto releasing our budget information. Today they are called OpenGov, and they sell the solution to over 500 cities in America, making it easy for communities to understand where their tax payer dollars are being spent. That was born and created in Palo Alto because of what we did making our data available.

Now we get to today, and the Internet of Things. We’re still – like a lot folks, especially in the government context – defining this. It can be as broad or as narrow as you want. There’s definitely a recognition that when infrastructure systems can begin to share data between each other, we can get better outcomes.

The Internet of Things is obviously quite an elastic concept, but are there areas you can point to where the IoT is already very much a reality in Palo Alto?

The clearest example I can give of that today is our traffic signal system here in the city. A year-and-a-half ago, we had a completely analogue system, not connected to anything other than a central computer, which would have created a schedule for the traffic signals. Today, we have a completely IP based traffic system, which means it’s basically a data network. So we have enormous new capability.

For example, we can have schedules that are very dynamic. When schools are being let out traffic systems are one way, at night they can be another way, you can have very granular information. Next you can start to have traffic signals communicate with each other. If there is a long strip of road and five traffic systems down there is some congestion, all the other traffic signals can dynamically change to try and make the flow better.

It goes even further than this. Now we can start to take that data – recording, for example, the frequency and volume of vehicles, as well as weather, and other ambient characteristics of the environment – and we can start to send this to the car companies. Here at Palo Alto, almost every car company has their innovation lab. Whether it’s Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW, Google (who are getting into the car business now) – they’re all here and they all want our data. They’re like: ‘this is interesting, give us an API, we’ll consume it into our data centres and then we’ll push into cars so maybe they can make better decisions.’

You have the Internet of Things, you’ve got traffic signals, cloud analytics solutions, APIs, and cars as computers and processors. We’re starting to connect all these related items in a way we’ve never done before. We’re going to follow the results.

What’s the overriding ambition would you say?

We’re on this journey to create a smart city vision. We don’t really have one today. It’s not a product or a service, it’s a framework. And within that framework we will have a series of initiatives that focus on things that are important to us. Transportation is really important to us here in Palo Alto. Energy and resources are really important: we’re going to start to put sensors on important flows of water so we can see the amount of consumption at certain times but also be really smart about leak detection, potentially using little sensors connected to pipes throughout the city. We’re also really focused on the environment. We have a chief sustainability officer who is putting together a multi-decade strategy around what PA needs to do to be part of the solution around climate change.

That’s also going to be a lot about sensors, about collecting data, about informing people and creating positive behaviours. Public safety is another key area. Being able to respond intelligently to crimes, terrorism or natural disasters. A series of sensors again sending information back to some sort of decision system that can help both people and machines make decisions around certain types of behaviours.

How do you expect this whole IoT ecosystem to develop over the next decade?

Bill Gates has a really good saying on this: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”  It’s something that’s informed me in my thinking. I think things are going to move faster and in more surprising ways in the next ten years for sure: to the extent that it’s very hard to anticipate where things are headed.

We’re disrupting the taxi business overnight, the hotel business, the food business. Things are happening at lightning speed. I don’t know if we have a good sense of where it’s all headed. Massive disruption across all domains, across work, play, healthcare, every sort of part of our lives.

It’s clear that – I can say this – ten years from now won’t be the same as today. I think we’ve yet to see the full potential of smart phones – I think they are probably the most central part of this ongoing transformation.

I think we’re going to connect many more things that we’re saying right now. I don’t know what the number will be: I hear five billion, twenty billion in the next five years. It’s going to be more than that. It’s going to become really easy to connect. We’ll stick a little communication device on anything. Whether it’s your key, your wallet, your shoes: everything’s going to be connected.

Palo Alto and the IoT Data Analytics & Visualization event look like a great matchup. What are you looking forward to about taking part?

It’s clearly a developing area and so this is the time when you want to be acquiring knowledge, networking with some of the big thinkers and innovators in the space. I’m pleased to be part of it from that perspective. Also from the perspective of my own personal learning and the ability to network with great people and add to the body of knowledge that’s developing. I’m going to be kicking it off as the CIO for the city.