As the digitization process of enterprises advances, the need to protect sensitive information and data is also becoming more pressing. In fact, digital transformation is not just about mere technological advancement: it is also about constant attention to the development of effective strategies to safeguard smart networks from potential cyber-attacks. In this sense, cybersecurity assumes primary importance and must be among the priorities of a company that really wants to call itself innovative and open to the future.
Speaking of 2022 cybersecurity-themed trends, Gartner calculated that by 2025, 45 percent of companies will have been victims of supply chain cyber-attacks. However, companies that adopt mesh architecture will be able to reduce the impact of individual attacks by up to 90%.
In this context, it is more critical than ever for companies to have frameworks that identify hacker attacks, protect technology systems, and detect and neutralize threats. An Industrial Internet of Things (I-IoT) system, in addition to optimizing the production process by making it more efficient, should also include strict security controls. The basic principles of cybersecurity (the so-called "CIA" criteria, Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability) are as valid as ever in an Industry 4.0 context in which, according to Niccolò De Carlo, CEO of Sensoworks, the best approach to create an effective and functional protection system is definitely a holistic one. In fact, attention to data collection, storage, and use must be part of a broader and more comprehensive cybersecurity perspective.
In light of an industrial scenario so fertile with digital opportunities and innovations, Sensoworks stands as a partner able to offer targeted solutions to enable companies to preside over the digital transition and, at the same time, ensure that their data is always adequately protected.
Indeed, security protocols and technologies are fundamental to Sensoworks: in addition to collecting, monitoring, and interpreting data from sensors connected to machinery and infrastructure, the platform is easily configured to best preserve sensitive information.
In addition, the entire production process is protected through blockchain technology, a shared structure that cannot be modified within which data is entered that, once entered, will not be tweaked or deleted— a guarantee of the correct information that is essential to ensure all-around cybersecurity.
We have seen how developing effective strategies to protect data and networks from potential cyber breaches is now imperative. At the same time, however, as Sensoworks CEO De Carlo reminds us, it is also necessary to study effective strategies for the physical security of the infrastructure.
An example of an architecture that involves both physical and technological structure might be an integrated water system. Here, through cyber-infrastructures such as smart water networks, IoT, data-science techniques, augmented intelligence, and, indeed, blockchain, it is possible to make more informed decisions in real-time precisely because of sensors and instrumentation that are in charge of securely collecting and transmitting data.
Thus, one can see how knowledge and data security act to support business decisions, while also giving greater awareness of water consumption and value.
"We are reaching 3.5 billion connected devices globally. Our use of most of these devices to date plays a strategic role for our country," De Carlo points out.
"Let's think for a moment about road infrastructure, power generation infrastructure. They are increasingly connected and need to be preserved from any kind of risk. Thanks to technologies like Sensoworks', it is possible to identify if a device, a sensor, a device is not working properly or if it has been intentionally tampered with."
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Contact Eleonora Stragliotto, Head of Sales, to learn more about how the Sensoworks platform protects sensitive information and data.
Maybe not everyone knows that the Thames was declared biologically dead in 1957. Indeed, London’s famous river has worked as an open sewer for centuries, leading to many an epidemic of cholera until the government decided to do something about it in the mid-800’s - particularly after what is known as the Great Stink.
It wasn’t until the '60s that construction projects for the recovery of a bombed and destroyed London amended and improved the previous sewage system, sanitizing the waters and bringing the river back to life. In more recent days one could even enjoy the company of harbor seals up in Richmond Lock.
More recently, however, in 2018 the growing population of the British capital posed a new threat to the existing draining systems. The authorities found it hard to keep up with the daily management of gray water.
If we learned something from the Thames’s history, then we should know by now that the management of sewers and waters is of the utmost importance for the wellbeing of the cities population.
Monitoring and management of pieces of critical infrastructure such as sewers are usually carried out on a case-by-case basis or with sporadic, periodic maintenance activities. However, this has two main issues: they ignore whatever phenomenon happened in the interval between two maintenance operations and only repair whatever damage occurred beforehand, ignoring predictive maintenance for damages that might occur later.
Moreover, periodic mass interventions have a certain weight on the annual budget, both for the individual companies and the taxpayers - companies dealing with urban waters and sewers are usually public and funded by the government.
In the second place, urbanization and overuse of infrastructure become critical in this specific sector of civil infrastructure. Poor management of the sewage system can have disastrous effects on both the population’s health and the environment, leading to damages that can only be healed in years.
This means that companies are faced with no option but to allocate much of their budget on damage control activities rather than on improvement and best practices, slowing down the development and progress of technologies and methodologies to best manage the systems.
We can predict what happens in the future. Our platform centers around the chance to implement predictive maintenance civil infrastructure to avoid any potential problem before it occurs.
Through a distributed system of sensors specifically installed in strategic locations of the infrastructure, Sensoworks’s IoT platform gathers all the necessary, raw, yet incomprehensible data and translates them into intelligible, indexed information in specifically created dashboards. This allows both Sensoworks’s IoT platform and managers and supervisors to understand what was, is, and will be of the monitored piece of infrastructure and intervene timely if necessary.
In the case of sewer systems' tunnels and pipes, Sensoworks designed a solution based on sensors constituted by fiber optic cables up to 50 km long. For the monitoring of sewers, the sensors we employ exploit Brillouin light scattering along the optic fiber.
The change in the Brillouin frequency signals to the platform a change in the temperature and/or in the mechanic strain. Each cable is built to react to both the phenomena.
Sensoworks' projects work on “close loop” systems to reach better results in terms of spatial resolution. The difference between “close loops” and “open loops” depends on how light radiation is used: “transmitted” in the first case and “reflexed” in the second case.
Thanks to Sensoworks, sewers are constantly monitored (24h a day, 365 days a year) for more than 37 km of pipes. The platform is always looking for deformations, it constantly checks the water level, speed and flow rate and controls potential anomalies due to parasitic infiltrations.
This doesn’t only work for sewers. Sensoworks’s IoT platform is designed to be highly scalable and adaptable to several kinds of systems and infrastructures. Sensors following this strategy can be installed on gas and water pipes (for the former, Sensoworks employs a higher-frequency Distributed Acoustic System to better detect gas leaks) to monitor the heating system or water supply, for instance.
This way, managing authorities can carry out less, more precise interventions to contain both potential damages and maintenance costs - both operational costs and staff deployment. Moreover, the causes of damages for underground facilities can be difficult to understand and expensive interventions are needed to assess the reasons for faults and malfunctions. Sensoworks’s platform’s dashboard, instead, shows clear and indexed information with thresholds and limits you can set to notify you in case any value exceeds the safety limits. So you know in real-time what is happening and where.
Sensoworks’s mission is to provide solutions that support people in their everyday life. Infrastructure, today, is an integral part of it: our lives would be much more difficult without the infrastructural system of roads, bridges, tunnels, sewers, and so on.
Urbanization and the evolution of our lifestyles need to be matched by a constant improvement of the technology and the systems we use, even more so when confronted with an increasing number of people enjoying and exploiting civil infrastructure.
Sensoworsks believes in the potential of technology at the service of people. Sensing the future is the way we want to give value back to the community, predicting what’s next is how we want to empower everyone with a stronger infrastructure for all their needs.
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According to a classification made by the University of Vienna, there are 6 factors that distinguish a smart city:
Each factor contributes to the achievement of a smart city where the gap between needs and satisfaction is filled. The technology that helps us make a city smart is the IoT (Internet of Things), where everything ideally "comes to life" thanks to appropriately installed sensors and a stable widespread wireless communication in every corner of the city. All data generated by sensors converge to a central ”brain”, where they are further elaborated through sophisticated AI algorithms, so that the "smart things" act accordingly to the humans’ preferences and habits.
The things become intelligent, break down spatial distance and allow you to satisfy all your needs in the shortest time possible, without having to even leave your house.
Although urbanization is not a strictly contemporary phenomenon, these last decades saw an exponential increase in the urban population. Only 15 years ago, the rural population was still the majority of people on Earth - only in 2007 the urban population exceeded rural areas for the first time in all history!
This should be enough to understand the massive change demography and urbanization went through. But most importantly, it should be enough to realize the huge impact this massive shift in our living habits had on the environment and on the society we are all part of. If we also add the simplification of travel and movement around cities, for tourism or work-related visits, and the ease of purchase for cars and other means of transport, then we can picture the increased complexity of society today.
If pollution, overpopulation, poor mobility were true three decades ago, today we find these to be exponentially amplified by a larger number of people living in urban areas as much as they are exacerbated by years and years of inefficient policies and inactivity. However, it is also true that today we have easier access to advanced technologies and solutions.
Today’s technologies help us to harvest and process the many data we need to assess critical situations or to increase maintenance and conservation efficiency. IoT is an incredible solution in this sense: it allows us to not only have a constant eye on the places sensors are installed on, but also to harvest all the necessary data and to send them to a processing terminal and to translate them into understandable information.
Data transmission technologies have developed a lot in recent years and allow for a high level of connectivity in every corner of the city: just think of how we have evolved from 2G to 5G technologies in just under 30 years, with new 6G technologies currently under development. This technological evolution encouraged and allowed us to send and receive quantities of data unthinkable just until a few decades ago. Not only, at the same time new data recording and security techniques are available too, such as blockchain technology, which encrypts the data in unchangeable ledgers of data for future reference and use.
All of this led to wider involvement of technology and companies in the public life, bringing the private sector and the suppliers of new solutions closer to the public administrations. Today, it is more common to see contracts and partnerships between the public and the private sectors for the monitoring and supply of technologies for infrastructure and construction sites. This gives birth to a whole new way of conceiving the expansion and control of cities’ infrastructure and utilities.
Cities all around the world are already trying to take advantage of these new technologies with an array of new solutions, methodologies and devices such as sensors, controllers, communication devices, cameras, and so on. However, installing such devices is only the first step in the transformation to a smart city. The fundamental step is the implementation of a “brain”, a central terminal that allows the dialogue between devices and people.
An example of a solution by means of data monitoring is that of mobility and traffic congestion. Gathering and translating the necessary data can help us monitor traffic and parking circulation or support greater amounts of traveling vehicles without having to incur in the costs of widening urban roads or adding new roadways and parking lots.
Solutions that entail the use of sensors embedded into the floor to register whether a vehicle is parked in the space right above them or placed on the entrance and exit of a car park might give us an idea of how many parking spaces are available. While a combination of sensors such as license plate readers, in-vehicle sensors, CCTV cameras to check congestion, in-road embedded sensors to monitor the passage and the staying of cars, it gives us a good assessment of the ongoing traffic situation.
Although this is usually confined to only a specific, critical area, rather than the city on its whole, new V2I methodologies (“vehicle to infrastructure” as opposed to V2V, “vehicle to vehicle”), instead, can give a more holistic view of the city’s road system. For instance, V2I corridors installed on the road of smart cities can alert the driver of upcoming traffic or even weather conditions beforehand, suggesting that they might want to slow down or follow an alternative route so as not to get stuck in traffic later on the way.
However, although the new trends on micromobility and a larger adoption of alternative means of transportation, a poor infrastructural use of roads is still a major problem afflicting big cities and capitals around the world. Traffic jams take a heavy toll on our environment, besides posing a problem to noise pollution and having all of us commuters lose time stuck on the road or in front of outdated traffic lights. As much as it may sound weird: yes, the traffic light system we currently use in much of the world is proven to be outdated.
Moreover, parking and traffic are not only a major cause of jams and frustration, but it also affects an important source of revenue for the municipality. Parking, indeed, is usually the second or third largest source of income for towns and cities. A poor use of parking spaces or of infrastructure - such as the lack of multi floor parking compounds in city centers - can have terrible repercussions not only on the environment, but also on the city finance.
Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) and Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS), however, mainly rely on fixed point, eulerian measurements from loop and radar detectors. These can collect data relating to flow, speed and occupancy (as in the examples we’ve seen earlier) but cannot provide trajectory-based information such as direct trip observations or the time of travel on routes - that is lagrangian measurements. This means that we are missing important clues on the behavior of traffic to better understand how to improve our cities.
The data harvested from different systems employing lagrangian measurements, together with already existing tech solutions and measurements, would allow us to to have a more holistic view of how the city works and to further instruct drivers and passersby on the ongoing situation of traffic congestions and parking not only on given areas at a certain time, but also predicting the flow of cars, travel time, departure time of cars from parking spaces and so on.
Although we already saw many innovations taking place in cities such as Shanghai, Pittsburgh, London, New York, Milan, and so on, the space for innovation and for further progress is wide open and we should not stop researching further to simplify and improve our cities and lives.
Urban contexts are various and different, each with their needs and peculiarities. That is why Sensoworks developed a highly customizable platform that can be employed across different industries.
All our products are designed by specialized engineers. This is to ensure max efficiency when it comes to our features, architecture and UX to both private and public customers. Moreover, we work in close collaboration with HW manufacturers and integrators. The ecosystem we built - and are constantly improving - allows us to design our platform to be a real end-to-end solution, from the sensors our hardware partners produced to the integration of our services to the customer’s entire architecture.
Whether our customers are private companies or public institutions, we developed our platform to be as flexible as it gets to allow you to start up with low costs, to grow quickly and to integrate with new, future tools (and cut off outdated software).
We pay close attention to the use of data, which have to be constantly available and immediately turned into information. We do this thanks to our Edge component, which allows data to be analyzed in real time by peripheral devices. In case an event occurs, the platform takes the necessary decisions on the very same place, allowing for immediate answers with low latency.
The Edge computing component, moreover, allows for the recovery of data from different kinds of devices connected to the same edge gateway, which works as a hub for the whole connectivity system. This way, data is sent to the Cloud platform from one only gateway. The union of more devices together avoids individual one-to-one communication (sensor/terminal) and cuts down energy consumption, improving the overall performance of connectivity in smart cities.
Speaking of smart cities, our work is not aimed only at managing parking problems. We have a wider goal: to create a unique infrastructure to gather all the data related to the city’s life and activities and to integrate it with third-party software and applications as well, supporting the entire community.If you want to know more about how our platform works and discover the whole range of monitoring solutions we provide, write to us. Write a comment or come visit us on sensoworks.com.