Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Privatizing Key Government Functions – Good or Bad?

Privatization deals affecting everything from parking meters to child welfare to public water systems are often negotiated in secret, carried out with little oversight, and subject to massive cost overruns and corruption. For example -

A recent study by "In the Public Interest" found that 65% of state and local for-profit prison contacts studied include quotas, which require state and local governments to maintain a high occupancy level in private facilities. These clauses provide incentives to keep prison beds filled, which run counter to many states’ public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing efforts for inmate rehabilitation.

In 2012, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, sent a letter to 48 state governors offering to buy up their public prisons. CCA offered to buy and operate a state’s prison in exchange for a 20 year contract, which would include a 90% quota for the entire term or a requirement that taxpayers pay for unused beds. While no state took CCA up on its offer, many existing prison privatization contracts contain such occupancy guarantees, with some as high as 100%.

Is it a good idea to contract out the U.S. prison system? Or are we just fostering a justice system run by corporations that want to imprison our citizens in order to make money? I believe we imprison a much higher percentage of people in the U.S. than any other countries – see latest figures.

What do you think about continued efforts to contract out many key functions previously performed by government? National Defense? Law Enforcement? Prisons? Public Schools? Is this good for the future of America?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The 'Internet of Everything (IoE)' will have major implications for the U.S.

The numbers are staggering.  Gartner predicts that the total economic value add for the Internet of Things (IoT) will be $1.9 trillion dollars in 2020, spread across all industries – especially in healthcare. McKinsey Global Institute pegs the potential economic impact at $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion by 2025. IDC put the Internet of things technology and services spending at $4.8 trillion in 2012 and expects the market to be $8.9 trillion in 2020.  Cisco Systems has published a white paper entitled "Embracing the Internet of Everything To Capture Your Share of $14.4 Trillion". Key to this rapidly evolving market are open standards and open source technology.


The 'Internet of Things' refers to the equipping of all physical objects in the world with some form of minuscule identifying devices or computer sensors that can be inter-connected or networked together.

However, as the sensors embedded in these 'things' are enhanced and add new capabilities like context awareness, increased data processing power, and more sophisticated communications features, what we currently refer to as the Internet of Things (IoT) is morphing into something called the Internet of Everything (IoE).  The definition of these terms continue to evolve as development and implementation of the concepts and technologies move forward.

The Internet currently connects anywhere from 10 to 15 billion devices. That equates to less than 1 percent of  'things'. According to ABI Research, by 2020 more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), or the Internet of Everything (IoE). By 2050, there will be trillions of inter-connected 'things' not only all around us, but also 'inside' us.

According to McKinsey & Company, "the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) will take time, but the time line is advancing thanks to improvements in underlying technologies. Advances in wireless networking technology and the greater standardization of communications protocols make it possible to collect data from these sensors almost anywhere at any time." They peg the potential economic impact of IoT at $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion by 2025.

Gartner predicts that the Internet of Everything (IoE) will add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020. It is expected that the numbers related to IoE will continue to climb over the next several decades given falling costs, adoption of open standards, emergence of innovative open hardware solutions, and the growth of cloud computing.

IDC put the Internet of things technology and services spending at $4.8 trillion in 2012 and expects the market to be $8.9 trillion in 2020. IDC said the installed base of things connected will be 212 billion by the end of 2020, including 30.1 billion connected autonomous things. Intelligent systems will be installed and collecting data by this point.

'Open Source' and the Internet of Everything (IoE)

Jim Zemlin recently wrote an excellent article entitled Open Source Tears Down Walled Gardens to Connect 'Internet of Everything'. He states that "a big impediment to the Internet of Everything’s economic promise and technology advances is interoperability -- the ability to intelligently share information across electronic devices and systems regardless of product brand." Bottom line, IoE doesn’t work unless 'everything' works together.

According to Zemlin, "Open source is the ideal, neutral staging area for collaboration that can provide the interoperability layer needed to make the Internet of Everything a reality. When everyone jointly develops and uses the same freely available code, companies can develop innovative services on top of it and get them to market faster."

Apparently many others agree with that conclusion. Witness the emergence of the AllSeen Alliance, a non-profit consortium of major corporations dedicated to driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that will enable the 'Internet of Everything', built upon an open, universal development framework and supported by

Members of the Alliance are helping to build the next wave of connected smart TVs, appliances, automobiles, and home automation - the 'Internet of Things' or the 'Internet of Everything' -  by using 'open source' AllJoyn software to develop interoperable devices, apps and consumer services.
Members include many of the world’s leading technology companies, manufacturers and service providers, e.g. Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Sears, LG Electronics, Google, Cisco.

Another reason open source will play a key role in the IoE revolution is that much of the consumer electronics world have already adopted and embedded the Linux operating system in their devices.

Companies have recognized that it is both impractical and too costly for any one of them to try and write their own proprietary code for the millions of different systems that will make up the Internet of Everything.

Qualcomm, which reported almost $7 billion in profits on $25 billion in sales over this past year is investing considerable resources into IoE technology and solutions- to make the "digital sixth sense" a reality.
• Intel is determined not to miss the Internet of Things (IoT) movement.  Under CEO Brian Krzanich, Intel is pursuing a new family of chips especially suited for 'wearables' and other small devices. Read about Intel's 'open source' Galileo computer and Quark chips.
• IBM has teamed up with wireless sensor builder Libelium to offer an IoT starter kit that would let customers deploy dozens of different sensor applications. The kit integrates Libelium's Waspmote wireless sensor platform with IBM's Mote Runner software and 6LoWPAN.
• Cisco has unveiled the nPower chip, a super-fast processor designed to funnel the enormous volumes of data that the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate.

 Final Observations & Conclusions

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is going to create new markets and a new economy for the 21st century. Estimates of the dollar value associated with IoE are all over the place – but all figures mentioned are staggering. They run from $1.9 trillion to more then $14 trillion over the next decade.
According to a white paper by Gartner, the verticals that are leading its adoption are manufacturing (15%), healthcare (15%), and insurance (11%).

Even as industries continue to move rapidly forward with plans to build the Internet of Everything (IoE), arguments are being made that not enough thought is being given to privacy, security, ethics, and the potential for a great number of unintended negative consequences. The need for more public debate about issues like this seems obvious, given the many recent revelations about NSA's unauthorized spying on American citizens. The potential for abuse of the technology by governments and private companies is very real.

Finally, it appears that for the Internet of Everything(IoE) to bring real value, U.S. industry should continue to adopt and build on open standards. To move things along and keep costs down, the industry should also continue to use 'open source' software such as - embedded operating systems software (Linux, Android);  network infrastructure (IPv6); web software (Java, LAMP stack);  cloud infrastructure (OpenStack, CloudStack, Eucalyptus); M2M software stacks (Mango, DeviceHive, Mihini); RFID software (OpenBeacon, Fostrak); database systems (Hadoop,  HBase, Mongo, NoSQL ).

With the Internet of Everything (IoE), we are now diving headlong into the 21st century and the 'Information Age'.   P.S. - If you thought things have been changing rapidly, think again. It's about to get real wild.

Other Selected IoT / IoE Links

Thursday, December 5, 2013

America and the Open Revolution - Continuing to Debate Our Future

Over the past decade a number of issues have slowly emerged that seem to overshadow all others in this country. You not only hear about these issues from all corners of the country, but you can also see them manifesting themselves in very tangible ways all around us.

The issue of "Inequality" in particular jumps out at you wherever you look. Large corporations and a small number of wealthy individuals now seem to have unbridled control over our country and its resources – from access to politicians, influence over the courts, control over the news media, accumulating wealth at rates unheard of in history, and much more.

The issue of inequality is not to be taken lightly. Witness the following excerpt from the Declaration of Independence issued at the start of the American Revolution.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Let me start off this next series of blogs about America and the 'Open Revolution' that is underway by asking these questions –

In America, do we still believe that all men are created equal? Do we have equal access to our politicians? Do all branches of this government still derive their powers from the consent of the governed? Or do they derive their power from a small group of particular corporations and wealthy individuals? Are these corporations and wealthy individuals abusing or usurping the power of the people? 

Give us your constructive feedback. This is a very serious series of questions American must continuously ask and openly debate – especially now.