Tag Archives: Data

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A Smarter World Part 3: How Smart Transportation Will Accelerate Your Business

In the last installment of our blog series on smart cities, we examined how smart infrastructure will revolutionize smart cities. This week, we will examine the many applications which will soon revolutionize smart transportation.

A smarter world means a faster, more efficient and environmentally-friendly world. And perhaps the biggest increase in efficiency and productivity will be driven by the many ways in which AI can optimize the amount of time it takes to get where you’re going.

Here are the top applications in smart transportation coming to a city near you:

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AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

Some say autonomous vehicles are headed to market by 2020. Others say it could take decades before they are on the road. One thing is for certain, they represent a major technological advancement for smart transportation. Autonomous cars will communicate with each other to avoid accidents and contain state-of-the-art sensors to help keep you and your vehicle safe from harm.

Although autonomous vehicles are arguably the largest technological advancement on the horizon, they will also benefit greatly from a variety of smart transportation applications that will accelerate navigating your local metropolis.

Integrated-Roadways

SMART ROADS

What if we could turn roads into a true digital network, giving real-time traffic updates, supporting autonomous car technology, and providing true connectivity between vehicles and smart cities?

That’s the question tech start-up Integrated Roadways intends to answer. Integrated Roadways develops fiber-connected smart pavement outfitted with a vast amount of sensors, routers, and antennae that send information to data centers along the highway. They recently inked a 5 year deal to test out patented fiber-connected pavement in Colorado.

Smart Roads represent a major advancement in creating vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity. With 37,133 deaths from motor vehicles on American roads in 2017, the combination of AI applications in smart roads and autonomous cars could revolutionize vehicular transport and create a safer, faster world.

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SMART TRAFFIC LIGHTS

The vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity spans beyond the roads and into the traffic light. Idling cars generate an estimated 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. Traffic jams can make it harder for first responders to reach emergencies. Rapid Flow proposes that the answer may be their AI-based adaptive traffic management system called Surtrac.

Surtrac uses a decentralized network of smart traffic lights equipped with cameras, radar, and other sensors to manage traffic flows. Surtrac’s sensors identify approaching vehicles, calculate their speed and trajectory, and adjust a traffic signal’s timing schedule as needed.

red line bus

SMART PUBLIC TRANSIT

There are a variety of smart applications which are revolutionizing public transportation.

In Singapore, hundreds of cameras and sensors citywide analyze traffic congestion and crowd density, enabling government officials to reroute buses at rush hour, reducing the risk of traffic jams. In Indianapolis, the electric Red Line bus service runs a 13 mile path that travels within a quarter of a mile of roughly 150,000 jobs.

One of the major disruptors which has seen rapid adoption in the smart public transport are electric scooter sharing services like Bird and Lime. Electric scooters fill in the public transportation gap for people looking to go 1-3 miles without having to walk or take a taxi. Electric scooters have seen adoption in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, and more cities around the globe.

CONCLUSION

Smart cities will have a host of revolutionary applications working in unison and communicating through smart infrastructure with municipalities to ensure maximum efficiency and safety when it comes to transportation. In our next installment of our series on smart cities, we’ll examine how smart security will help keep city-dwellers safe.

smart infrastructure

A Smarter World Part 2: How Smart Infrastructure Will Reshape Your City

Imagine a city that monitors its own health, identifies potential fail points using AI algorithms, and autonomously takes action to prevent future disasters.

This is the smart-city of the future. In our first installment of our blog series on Smart Cities, we ran through an overview of how Smart Cities will change our world. In this second entry of our blog on smart cities, we’ll examine perhaps the biggest building block necessary to create a smart city: smart infrastructure.

The construction of a smart city begins with developing a vast, city-wide IoT system, embedding sensors and actuators into the infrastructure of the city to create a network of smart things. The sensors and actuators collect data and send it to field gateways which preprocess and filter data before transmitting it through a cloud gateway to a Data Lake. The Data Lake stores a vast amount of data in its raw state. Gradually, data is extracted for meaningful insights and sent to the Big Data warehouse where it’s structured. From here, monitoring and basic analytics will occur to determine potential fail points and preventative measures.

Check out the breakdown below:

Breakdown

As you can see, it all begins with the construction of smart infrastructure that can collect data. Here are some of the big applications in the smart infrastructure space:

STRUCTURAL HEALTH

One of the major applications of smart infrastructure will be monitoring key data points in major structures, such as the vibrations and material conditions of buildings, bridges, historical monuments, roads, etc.

Cultivating data will initiate basic analysis and preventative measures, but as we gather more and more data, AI and machine learning algorithms will learn from vast statistical analysis and be able to analyze historical sensor data to identify trends and create predictive models to prevent future disasters from happening with unprecedented accuracy.

Learn more about how Acellant is building the future of structure health monitoring.

ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS

There are a multitude of potentially environmental applications for smart infrastructure designed to optimize city activities for environmental health. For example, embedding street lights with intelligent and weather adaptive lighting will reduce the amount of energy necessary to keep roads alight.

Air pollution monitoring will help control CO2 emissions of factories and monitor the pollution emitted by cars. Ultimately, earthquake early detection can help monitor distributed control in specific places of tremors.

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WASTE MANAGEMENT

Boston is well-known as one of the top college cities in the United States. Every fall, over 160,000 college students from MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, BU, BC, Berklee School of Music, and more move in to their new living spaces, causing undue stress on the city’s waste management administration. ANALYZE BOSTON, the city’s open data portal, provided key data points such as housing rentals, trash volume and pick-up frequency, enabling a project called TRASH CITY to reroute waste management routes during this trying time.

CONCLUSION

Projects like Trash City show the many ways in which we can optimize city operations by analyzing data effectively. As smart infrastructure enables the collection of more and more data, projects like TRASH CITY will become more efficient and more effective.

Of course, the biggest application of Smart Infrastructure will be the many ways in which it will change how you get from A to B. Next week, we’ll focus in on smart transportation and how it will reshape metropolitan transportation.

Smart Cities

A Smarter World Part 1: How the Future of Smart Cities Will Change the World

Are you ready for smart cities of the future?  Over the next few weeks, we will be endeavoring on a series of blogs exploring what the big players are developing for smart cities and how they will shape our world.

When the world becomes smart, life will begin to look a lot more like THE JETSONS!

When the world becomes smart, life will begin to look a lot more like THE JETSONS!

Our cities will become smart when they are like living organisms: actively gathering data from various sources and processing it to generate intelligence to drive responsive action. IoT, 5G, and AI will all work together to enable the cities of the future. IoT devices with embedded sensors will gather vast amounts of data, transmit it via high-speed 5G networks, and process it in the cloud through AI-driven algorithms designed to come up with preventative action. From smart traffic to smart flooding control, the problems smart cities can potentially solve are endless.

Imagine a world where bridges are monitored by hundreds of tiny sensors that send information about the amount of pressure on different pressure points. The data from those sensors instantly transmits via high-speed internet networks to the cloud where an AI-driven algorithm calculates potential breaking points and dispatches a solution in seconds.

That is where we are headed—and we’re headed there sooner than you think. Two-thirds of cities globally are investing in smart city technology and spending is projected to reach $135 billion by 2021. Here are the three of the top applications leading the charge in the Smart Cities space.

Smart Infrastructure

SMART INFRASTRUCTURE

As our opening description of smart bridges implies, smart infrastructure will soon become a part of our daily lives. In New Zealand, installed sensors monitor water quality and issue real-time warnings to help swimmers know where it’s safe to swim.

In order to enable smart functionality, sensors will need to be embedded throughout the city to gather vital information in different forms. In order to process the abundance of data, high-volume data storage and high-speed communications powered by high-bandwidth technologies like 5G will all need to become the norm before smart infrastructure can receive mass adoption.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll get more in-depth on the future of smart infrastructure.

Smart Cars

SMART TRANSPORTATION

From smart parking meters to smart traffic lights, from autonomous cars to scooters and electric car sharing services, transportation is in the midst of a technological revolution and many advanced applications are just on the cusp of realization.

Smart parking meters will soon make finding a parking space in the city and paying for it easy.  In the UK, local councils can now release parking data in the same format, solving one of the major obstacles facing smart cities: Data Standardization (more on that later).

Autonomous cars, powered by AI, IoT, and 5G, will interact with the smart roads on which they are driving, reducing traffic and accidents dramatically.

While there is a debate about the long-term effectiveness of electric motorized scooters as a mode of transportation, they’ve become very popular in major US cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and are soon to come in Brooklyn.

With the New York Subway system in shambles, it seems inevitable the biggest city in the world will receive a state-of-the-art smart technology to drastically improve public transit.

Surveillance State

SMART SECURITY

The more you look at potential applications for smart security, the more it feels like you are looking at the dystopian future of the novel 1984.

Potential applications include AI-enabled crowd monitoring to prevent potential threats. Digital cameras like Go-Pros have shrunk the size of surveillance equipment to smaller than an apple. Drones are available at a consumer level as well. While security cameras can be placed plentifully throughout a city, one major issue is cultivating the manpower required to analyze all of the footage being gathered for potential threats. AI-driven algorithms to analyze footage for threats will enable municipalities to analyze threats and respond accordingly.

However, policy has not caught up with technology. The unique ethical quandaries brought up by smart security and surveillance will play out litigiously and dictate to what degree smart security will become a part of the cities of the future.

CONCLUSION

We can see what the future may look like, but how we’ll get there remains a mystery. Before smart technologies can receive mass adoption, legislation will need to be passed by both local and national governments. In addition, as the UK Parking Meter issue shows, data standardization will be another major obstacle for smart technology manufacturers. When governments on both a local and a national level an get on the same page with regard to how to execute smart city technology and legislation, the possibilities for Smart Cities will be endless.

Stay tuned next week for our deep dive into the future applications of Smart Infrastructure!

Blog Cover Security

Protect Your Enterprise with the Top Mobile App Security Tips of 2019

A recent study conducted by AppKnox concluded that out of 100 top E-commerce apps, 95% failed basic security testing, 68% had four or more loopholes present in them, and 68% of apps were diagnosed with high severity threats.

Some of the most popular applications, including WhatsApp, Pokemon Go, and Facebook Messenger, are among the most frequently blacklisted among top enterprises due to the security risks they pose.

As a mobile app developer, security can lead to disaster for both your business and your consumers. Here are our top security tips for 2019:

TESTING AND CODE OPTIMIZATION

The two most important processes for building a secure app are extensive testing and constant refinement of code.

Disorganized code often causes data security risks. Minify code to ensure it is clean and concise and does not burden the application. When coding, think like an attacker and address any vulnerability a hacker could use to penetrate your application. Use libraries that show coding errors to ensure you catch security risks.

By budgeting for a rigorous testing and quality assurance process from the outset of the application development process, software developers ensure their applications will be thoroughly secure. Do not allow time-constraints getting a product to market to interfere with this crucial step. Test for functionality, usability, and security. Test, test, and test some more.

SECURE YOUR APIs

Enterprise developers are relying on application programming interfaces (APIs) more than ever, posing additional security requirements. API development and mobile app development share security considerations. Any vulnerability in an API is a vulnerability in the applications that the API connects. Solve potential headaches with the following tips:

  • Ensure all APIs integrated in your app are optimized for security.
  • Monitor all add-on software carefully to ensure that they do not present any system vulnerabilities.
  • Budget time to test the security of your APIs as well.

Check out TechBeacon’s 8 essential best practices for API security for additional reading.

LIMIT DATA COLLECTION AND PERMISSIONS

By collecting as little data as possible and minimizing permissions, app developers limit vulnerable attack points on their app. If the app does not require access to the camera or contacts, don’t request it. The same sentiment can be applied to data: make sure  users are aware of what data your application is collecting from them and only collect user data that is vital to the application’s functionality.

INTEGRATE A SECURITY TEAM FROM DAY ONE

Incorporating a dedicated security team from the inception of the development process on will ensure that the application has a cohesive security strategy intertwined with app functionality. Bringing the security team in from day one will minimize vulnerabilities that otherwise may slip through the cracks if they are brought on later in the process.

PROTECT CONSUMER DATA

Consumer data is generally the most vulnerable element for any app. The higher the volume of consumer data, the more there is for hackers to steal. In addition to limiting data collections, app developers should look into new data encryption technologies and biometric authentication. Decentralized database technology like the blockchain cryptology are among the most high-tech data protection measures tech companies can undertake.

Learn more about the Blockchain for mobile development via Application Development Trends.

CONCLUSION

In order to maintain secure environments, app developers must stay constantly stay up-to-date on the latest security technologies. Reading tech publications and maintaining awareness of the latest trends will ensure your enterprise is ready to integrate with tomorrow’s tech.

Data Encryption

How to Safely Encrypt Sensitive Data in Your Mobile App

In November 2014, cybercriminals perpetrated one of the biggest cybercrimes of the decade. They hacked into Sony’s computer systems, stole sensitive data, paralyzed the company’s operations, and gradually leaked embarrassing information to the media. The hackers threatened to continue until Sony agreed to pull the controversial comedy The Interview from its theatrical release.

As the headlines will tell you, the encryption of sensitive data is one of the most important investments a company can make. Facebook is currently under heat for data protection practices. The UK National Crime Agency called WannaCry a signal moment for awareness of cyberattacks and their real world impact. With the stakes higher than ever, the encryption of sensitive data in apps has never been more important.

Here are our top tips on how to safely encrypt sensitive data in your mobile app.

TIP #1: Coding and Testing

Writing secure code is fundemental to creating a secure app. Obfuscating and minifying code so that it cannot be reverse engineered is critical to keeping a secure environment. Testing and fixing bugs when they are exposed should be an ongoing investment of resources as it will pay off in the long run.

Tip #2: Scramble Data

Sometimes, the best method of encrypting data is scrambling. Software and web developers often become obsessed with storing every bit of data in databases and logs, assuming it may be useful later, but doing so can create a target for cybercriminals.

Cunning developers will only store a scrambled version of the data, making it unreadable to the outside eye, but still useful for those who know how to query it correctly.

For an in-depth dive into scrambling data, check out this awesome essay on how Amazon does it.

Tip #3: In Transit Vs. At Rest Encryption

There are two types of data to be encrypted: in transit data and at rest data. In transit data is moving data, be it in transit via email, in apps, or through browsers and other web connections. At rest data is stored in databases, the cloud, computer hard drives, or mobile devices. In transit data can be protected through the implementation of robust network security controls and firewalls. At rest data can be protected through systematically categorizing and classifying data with data protection measures in mind.

Tip #4: Secret Vs. Public Key Algorithms

Secret Key Algorithms are algorithms that use the same key for encryption and decryption. Public-key algorithms us two different encryption keys, one for encryption and the other for decryption. The public key is how the data is sent and the private key decodes it. Public-key algorithms are more secure, but require more computer processing power.

Tip #5: Blockchain Cryptography

We’ve covered the Blockchain in our past article on The Revolutionary Mechanics of the Blockchain. Blockchain cryptography has been on the rise because blockchain databases are distributed and thus more resilient in the face of a DOS attack.

Tip #6: Apps that Clean Up after Themselves 

Apps that collect sensitive information don’t necessarily need to store it. It is wise to delete sensitive data from mobile apps when the data is no longer in active use.

Tip #7 Choose the Right Algorithm

There are several popular pre-existing algorithms in existence that can be used to encrypt sensitive data in mobile apps. Check out UpWork’s awesome rundown:

  1. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  2. RSA
  3. IDEA
  4. Signal
  5. Blowfish and Two Fish
  6. Ring Learning With Errors or Ring-LWE

Over the last 10 years, enterprise-wide use of encryption has jumped by 22 percent according to the Ponemon Institute. When building a mobile app, investing in encrypting sensitive data will pay off in the long run and haunt those that short-change it.

Nougat OS: Everything You Need to Know Android’s Latest Treat

With all the fuss about iPhone 7, iOS 10 and the new Pixel, it’s easy to forget Android recently unveiled their latest OS: Nougat. In line with Android’s other dessert-themed software titles (Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat, etc.), Nougat is a treat. It’s a refined version of Marshmallow with improved UX, specs and a lot more. Both iOS fans and app developers take note, here are Android Nougat’s top features:

MULTI-WINDOW MULTITASKING

Android Nougat Multi-Window Multi-Tasking via Phone Finderr

The most notable feature of Nougat is Multi-Window Multitasking. Unlike iOS, Nougat allows users to run multiple apps on their screen at once, allowing users to watch a movie while they text, view a recipe while they keep their eyes on the timer, or use any number of applications. Multi-Window Multitasking can be utilized with three display options: Split-Screen, Picture-In-Picture and Freeform Mode.

Split-Screen mode splits the screen across the bottom when held vertically, or across the middle when held horizontally.

Picture-In-Picture mode will be optimized for Android TV and will eliminate the controls and interface elements while keeping the content portion to scale.

Freeform mode will allow users to customize the size of each application, like one can with a desktop or laptop computer.

REFINED NOTIFICATIONS SETTINGS

Notifications Settings via How To Geek

Android has always been a major advocate of customizing notifications, and Android Nougat improves their system. Users customize their quick settings to ensure they are only alerted to the top-level notifications. Users can also maintain conversations within the notifications bar to make it easier to chat without having to go back and forth into apps.

Bundled notifications allow users to see what is happening within their apps at a glance without clogging their feed. Simply tap to expand the box and view more info without going directly into the app.

FASTER PERFORMANCE, MORE BATTERY, LESS MOBILE DATA

The best improvements of Nougat OS are not flashy new features, but overall improved functionality. Google’s “Project Doze,” designed to increase phone battery length, was introduced with Marshmallow, but gets a big upgrade with Nougat. Doze shuts down CPU and network activity while the phone screen is off. Previously, Doze only worked when the device was motionless, but now it can operate whenever the screen is off.

Data overages can add up quickly. Google seeks to counter the threat of overages with Data Saver, a program which kicks in whenever the user is on a metered data connection and limits apps and background processes to a set amount of data. Rather than cutting off data usage at a  preset limit, Data Saver makes Android phones more efficient with constant refinement.

Both Data Saver and Project Doze are bolstered by minor technical improvements to Project Svelte, Android’s device optimization initiative, creating a more efficient phone.

SEAMLESS UPDATES

Android isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Their Nougat OS functions primarily as a UX improvement over Marshmallow. Android has instilled major security improvements, including file-based encryption. Android has also taken a page out of the Chrome OS playbook by adding seamless updates, which will allow system updates to install in the background.

NEW EMOJIS

Android Nougat Emojis via Tech Hive

On the lighter side of things, Android has installed 72 new glyphs and has revamped their 1,500 emojis to appear more realistic. Nougat is also compatible with Vulkan API, which opens up a world of low-overhead graphical possibilities.

WHEN CAN I GET NOUGAT?

As with any Android update, the real question is: when is it coming to my phone? Nougat is out, but device fragmentation on the Android platform entails a staggered availability based on the hardware. While Google’s Pixel phone could soon alleviate some of these fragmentation problems, Android still cannot move at the speed of iOS—but Nougat’s improved functionality is a welcome addition for both app developers and consumers.

For a full list of Android Nougat release dates, check out this awesome article over at Pocket Lint.

Not Too Pushy: 5 Rules for Pushing App Notifications Without Annoying the User

An application can do great things for a business. It’s a gateway into a digital experience catered to a brand, an opportunity to ingrain a brand into the user’s daily life. Push notifications allow applications to send messages with pertinent information to the user. Some are silent and simply light up the phone screen with a notification, while others vibrate to physically notify the user of more important, time-sensitive information.

The problem is: push notifications are… well… pushy. They can be annoying. It takes a mere Twitter search to prove that when users get annoyed, they take to social media, which is bad for business.

And yet, studies show when push notifications are turned on, they average 88% more launches than those with push notifications disabled. Some studies show up to a 540% increase in daily app opens.

Thus the conundrum becomes: how does one balance between being overly pushy, and not pushy enough? Although each case is subjective, we put together some guidelines for app developers and businesses looking to boost app usage without alienating customers.

1. Make Them Customizable

This is easily the cardinal rule. Do not push your push notifications on the user. Allow them to choose both whether and which push notifications to receive. Give the user options for how frequently they wish to receive notifications and/or what prompts them. There’s no excuse for an overly pushy app and it will be uninstalled.

2. Silent Notifications Work Too

Silent push notifications light up the phone screen with neither a sound nor a vibration. They are great for games, a tempting little offer which may catch the user’s eye when it lights up and lingers on the screen until the smartphone is next unlocked. Diversifying your notifications only makes for a more tolerable digital experience.

3. Analyze Customer Data

App developers have a host of awesome data at their disposal which ought to be utilized in tweaking their apps. If you notice customers often opting out of certain types of notifications, do them a favor and get rid of them. Or make them sign-up for them rather than giving them the work of having to opt-out. As they say, the customer is always right.

4. Geo Detection Is Your Friend

Geo Detection technology allows retailers to detect when a customer last visited their store or when a customer is nearby. Retailers can use Geo Detection technology to put out blasts to all customers in the area of special offers and coupons. For more information on Geo Detection notifications, check out this awesome article.

5. Offer Value

Seamless and GrubHub offer silent push notifications which, when swiped, give the user a discount on their order. Customers are more likely to read push notifications if they know there’s something in it for them. Push notifications are your friend, make sure they are your customer’s too.

Mystic Media is a web and software development company with expertise in iOS and Android application development and strategic marketing. Follow us today on Twitter (@mysticmediasoft), like us on Facebook, and contact us with any questions by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815