Sensors, Sensors Everywhere

Three_surveillance_cameras

Sensors will soon be everywhere–waiting, watching, and working to capture information about you and the environment we inhabit.

Every sensor is an opportunityto collect data and use that data for making better decisions.

Of course, we see sensors deployed first and foremost from our military overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, which uses drones to spy on and strike on our adversaries. The drones are really flying platforms of sensors and in some cases with weapons at ready. According to the New York Times (20 June 2011) “From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars..the pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones…[and] has asked for nearly $5 billion for drones for next year.” These drones are providing  “a Tsunami of data” from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The change to drones is so significant in our military that the Times reports that “already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.”
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal (5 July 2011) reports that another type of sensor–surveillance cameras–are being deployed big time in China with a new surveillance network in Chongqing of 500,000 cameras (Beijing already has 280,000 cameras in its system) “that officials says will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.” While this project is significantly larger and more aggressive than other cities have deployed, China is certainly not alone in deploying surveillance cameras in their cities–Chicago has 10,000, New York has 8,000, and London has over 10,000.  According to the WSJ, the overall market last year for surveillance-equiptments sales, not including networking gear or software totaled $1.7 billion!  So smile, you are on camera–and it’s candid, indeed.
A third article ran in Government Computer News (July 2011) on a more innocuous type of sensors to be used–this being the mass deployment of mobile sensors for the National Weather Service (NWS) on vehicle fleets such as Greyhound buses etc.  Beginning in October, “2,000 commercial vehicles will be equipped with sensors…and will be sending data to NWS in near real time.  We will be rolling out coverage on the national level.”  The mobile sensors will be taking 100,000 observations daily–every 10 seconds, about every 300 meters–measuring temperature, humidity, dew, precipitation, and solar information.”  In the future, we are looking at the potential of a “a sensing probe in every car”–for collecting information on hazardous roads, traffic patterns, and preventing accidents. Other applications for mobile sensors could be for “monitoring chemical and biological agents,” nuclear and radiological ones, or CO2 and Ozone and more.
While sensors can collect data that can be used to analyze situations early and often to help people; certainly, they can also be misused to spy on ones one citizens and suppress freedom. It can be a slippery slope.  Perhaps that why Wired Magazine recently asked (July 2011) who’s “Watching the Watchers,” making the distinction between:
1) Surveillance–the monitoring of events by those above, the authorities–with CCTV etc. and monitoring events from control rooms, potentially from anywhere around the world.
2) Sousveillance–the monitoring of events by those below, the citizens–with everyday smartphones, cameras, and videocams and posting the digital images and sound bytes to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on for the world to see.
With IPV6 providing enough Internet address for attaching sensors to every atom on the surface of the earth and sensors becoming smaller and more imperceptible, we can soon monitor and report on everything, everywhere all the time. Some of the biggest challenges remain ensuring the information monitored is kept secure, private, and used legally and ethically and sifting through all the data to identify the truly meaningful information from what’s just noise.
(Source Photo: here)

>IPv6 and Enterprise Architecture

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Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is a network layer for packet-switched internetworks. It is designated as the successor of IPv4, the current version of the Internet Protocol, for general use on the Internet. The main change brought by IPv6 is a much larger address space that allows greater flexibility in assigning addresses. The extended address length eliminates the need to use network address translation to avoid address exhaustion, and also simplifies aspects of address assignment and renumbering when changing providers. (Wikipedia)

IPv6 is an important architecture change.

Government Executive Magazine, May 2008, reports that “Ipv6 upgrades are critical as space available for Internet addresses dwindles.”

Why are we running out of IP addresses on version 4?

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices with individual addresses on the Internet. With the world’s population estimated to be 6.5 billion—and with many people possessing multiple electronic devices such as PCs, cell phones, and iPods—there simply wil not be enough IPv4 addresses to meet the demand, let alone support the anticipated influx of new Internet users from developing countries. Also on the horizon are newfangled IP-enabled devices and appliances that will drive up the number of IP addresses per person.”

How does IPv6 solve this problem?

“IPv6 used 128-bit addresses and can support a virtually limitless number of globally addressable devices (The actual number is 2 to the 128th power).”

How is the conversion going?

The office of Management and Budget (OMB) has mandated that “By June 30, all federal agencies must prove that they have upgraded their networks’ connections, or backbones, to be capable of carrying IPv6 data traffic.”

Note: “All leading routers can support IPv6.”

A senior vice president for Quest said that “Every North American business and government needs to make the conversion.”

What other benefits does IPv6 offer?

Other benefits include:“built in security, network management enhancements such as auto-configuration and improved support for mobile networks. But in the decade since IPv6 was created, many of the extra features have been added to IPv4. So, the real motivator…is that it offers unlimited IP address space.”

The most savings, however, will come from the new applications and services that IPv6 will provide.”

The Department of Defense “needs IPv6 to make its vision of netcentric warfare (the ability to tie together networks and sensors to deliver a stream of integrated real-time data to the battlefield and commanders) a reality…with IPv6, ‘everything can be addressable from a soldier to a sensor to an aircraft to a tank…we could have a sensor network with hundreds of thousands of nodes.”

IPv6 is important, but what other network initiatives underway is it competing with?

  • The Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative—aims to “reduce the number of external connectivity points that workers use to gain access to the internet.”
  • Networx—“a telecommunications contract that agencies are supposed to use to select a new carrier by September.”

On the Federal side, what needs to be architected next for IPv6?

“Federal IT managers should begin reserving IPv6 address space, developing an addressing plan, and creating a migration strategy that includes extensive product testing and evaluation. So far 37 agencies have requested IPv6 adress space from the American Registry for Internet Numbers.”