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December 2017
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Ending Oversharing in the IoT

DKDC: businesses Don’t and will not Know the details because they Don’t and cannot be made to Care.

Toby ConsidineToby Considine
TC9 Inc


The New Daedalus

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As humans, we have a persistent tendency to make the next big thing just like the last big thing. Star Trek was sold to the studio as “Wagon Train to the Stars.” As humans, we do both our best, and our sloppiest thinking by analogies. The last big thing seems safe. So with the Internet of Things, we try to continue with the computing of the cloud data center and gathering data as if it were a social networking data stream.

The real action will be in autonomous systems at the edge. HVAC systems are beginning to self-diagnose as cars have done for a decade. They will be able to self-describe themselves using taxonomies such as HayStack to simplify maintenance management. Computerized Maintenance Management systems will begin to understand HayStack to minimize the human effort and human knowledge required to support their optimum operation. This information will not, however, flow into the greater IT operations of corporations that own buildings, but will remain in the realm of DKDC.

DKDC: businesses Don’t and will not Know the details because they Don’t and cannot be made to Care. Allowing too many to know, particularly in the world of insecure building communications just creates new opportunities for people to hack these systems. Vital as these systems are, business operations do not want to know the intimate details of their building systems, just as the employees rarely learn about the personal lives of the security guards and the housekeepers that they encounter in their buildings. Attempts to make people care will fail and waste time and treasure.

Much of the move to the cloud is an effort to scale out by having all these many systems report to the few people who care. This is effective if the goal is to improve the old way of doing things. In Boston, known for its amazing confusion of downtown streets, this is known as paving the cow-paths. There is no fundamental improvement or change in what is offered, merely improved efficiency and auditability. For many sites, that is enough.

A growing portion of the populace is beginning to decode “as a service” to mean “You don’t actually own anything, and we owe you nothing.” Oversharing of telemetry has become so entrenched that Silicon Valley no longer feels it needs permission. Companies that base their futures on remote telemetry of offices and homes will face growing scrutiny and resistance. The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on law enforcement and access to cell-tower operational telemetry without a warrant this term. Whether the court doubles down on the Kelo ruling to erase 4th Amendment protections and grant access to telemetry information without a warrant, or whether they restrict open access to this information, it will decrease consumer acceptance of these cloud models.

Autonomous systems that make their own decisions face a rosier future. The purpose of these autonomous systems is to improve the quality of life and workplace productivity by providing a healthier, safer, more secure and pleasant work environment. The best autonomous systems will be self-monitoring and self-repairing, taking actions to ensure operational status. If necessary, they will communicate to cloud-based support systems to take actions beyond built-in capabilities. This is the real future for the cloud.

The challenge for these autonomous systems is self-integration with their peers. This will require simplified or abstracted communications between systems. Simplified models for deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI), such a Microsoft’s open source AI engines for Raspberry Pi, will manage and continuously improve this simplified local integration. Local crypto-asset technology (as defined by Adam Ludwin) will secure these communications and create immutable records that will be transmitted to the cloud only when specifically needed.

Reliable Controls We can see this in the US Marine Corps plans that are beginning to be called the Western Regional Energy Initiative (REI). The driving force is increased use of intermittent renewable energy. The means include microgrids to manage and shape local load and local energy storage to match locally generated power; the resulting microgrids will use the same types of communications with other microgrids to locally balance load within the local power distribution infrastructure. To the larger grid, this looks like laminar control, augmented by peer-to-peer negotiations between control nodes (microgrids). The abstracted communications used will be those defined as the NIST Common Transactive Services. Cybersecurity will be based on multi-vendor Security Fabric, and the crypto-asset strategy is still being considered. Commercial privacy becomes tactical and operational security. It is a requirement that none of the REI decision-making depends on any far-away cloud.

For power consuming systems within building systems, the AI requirements will be reduced as each begins to organize its internal operations into exchangeable information. The Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM), published as ANSI/ASHRAE/NEMA 201-2016, describes this information for systems in commercial and industrial facilities.

This will make the cloud more important than today, but not in the same way. The cloud will be used for final settlement between systems that do not share ownership. Specific actionable information supporting maintenance and repair will be transmitted only to those responsible for fixing each problem. Local crypto-asset databases will provide the capability of detailed audit at a later time if needed.


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