"The best thing about this job is that it has enabled so many companies to think differently about the challenges they face with the introduction of the Internet of Things. When other people wake up to the idea that it really is like the Internet – you don’t have to do things in linear ways and it isn’t all about data analysis – then you can watch that creativity multiply..."
A founding director of Iotic-Labs, a web of things both private and public that enables secure and creative interactions between all kinds of sources and platforms Paul Green today sits down with Tim Edwards, Project Manager at Transport Security World to discuss his career to date, mitigating risk, overcoming challenges, the next ten years and much more. He previously co-founded Arkessa, the fast-growing enterprise IoT business and is passionate about enabling technology to benefit business, people and society as a whole.
Tim Edwards (TE): Many thanks for the time today, to begin, what has led you to your role at Iotic Labs?
Paul Green (PG): While working for a remote connectivity business, I noticed that data always ended up in silos, completely inaccessible to the owner of the assets and useless to their suppliers, contractors and customers.
They needed a means of exchanging data that is private and secure too. At Iotic Labs, we created a way for everything to connect in a private space where the owner can allow others (either internal or external, human or machine) selective access – keeping the things themselves at arm’s length, completely secure and abstracted. People call this ‘interoperability’ - but it’s really the ‘Web of Things’, which is a phenomenal way to create context and understanding. This particularly applies to the transport sector, where every business activity is linked to other aspects to deliver critical services.
What we needed was a web for things that would liberate innovators in every business sector to use the masses of data and sources already in their buildings, machines, lights, stores and vehicles to create apps and services that no one had thought possible before – so democratising access to the data from things, just like the Internet gives us access to information.
Our vision was to release the creative potential by creating a common web for all things, so that they could interact but still retain control of privacy and security.
TE: What do you enjoy the most about the position?
PG: I love tackling the hard problems by approaching them in different ways. The best thing about this job is that it has enabled so many companies to think differently about the challenges they face with the introduction of the Internet of Things. When other people wake up to the idea that it really is like the Internet – you don’t have to do things in linear ways and it isn’t all about data analysis – then you can watch that creativity multiply. It’s actually about enabling organisations, supply chains, business eco-systems and people to interact like we do every day with Internet.
It’s massively hard to do, many said impossible, but I think that is the second thing I really enjoy. The inspiration came from some unexpected sources and it has been a challenging and exciting journey to create the first secure and practical web of things.
TE: Please describe a day in your life?
PG: Every day is different, but the best ones include enabling others to grasp new creative ways of doing their jobs or living their lives. Recently this has involved working with established businesses in transportation and logistics on risk mitigation, operational efficiency and new revenue generation. This has led to better utilisation of assets, such as sensors, maintenance and construction equipment and, more interestingly, enabled interactions across the transport eco-system so that some non-critical data might be shared to improve some basic services: such as letting people know which toilets work on the train!
TE: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
PG: The biggest problem is mindset. Most people think in straight lines – this thing connected to that thing for one purpose only.
But that’s not how we live the rest of our lives.
Every day we interact with lots of different sources of data when we browse the Web – sometimes just for a few seconds – and we combine that with other, often completely unrelated data, to help organise our lives. Each source of data might have completely different uses for different people.
That’s what we have done for all those silos of locked-up data. We have enabled dynamic interactions between unrelated things. In other words – secure interoperability in real time.
That’s brilliant – but it’s hard to get your head round – because you need to stop thinking in straight lines.
TE: What will be some of the biggest differences between Transportation security now and in ten years’ time?
PG: In ten years’ time, everything will be connected.
This will enable autonomous vehicles, interactive supply chains and enhanced asset utilisation. It impacts not just the products we make for transport, but the processes we use to make, maintain and manage those products.
The big challenge is whether you can interact with other things owned by other people without risking the security and viability of your assets. How you think about that, prepare for it and gain business benefit from it is the crucial issue. Those that are bold and imaginative enough will come to dominate the future of transportation.
TE: How can operators collaborate more to improve transport security? (IE. in the context of the connected journey, so cargo / passenger going from Rail, to Port, to Ship / Plane)
PG: Friction at the points of interaction is the key issue here.
Frictionless interaction can only be achieved with a common secure abstraction layer for the data from equipment, machines, facilities and sensing equipment operating in real time with transient relationships. Achieving that securely, and with a high degree of transient privacy, is now possible using the virtualized, double-abstracted Iotic environment.
TE: How do you strike the balance between creating the most secure possible journey for a passenger whilst maintaining the best possible experience?
PG: Three levels of privacy are required: First there are public sources of data, such as weather, traffic levels, and air quality. These need to be verified as trusted sources but do not need to have high levels of privacy.
Second are protected sources that can be shared with apps and services that gain context by adding in public sources from the wider Web of Things. Securely managing and brokering of these is a vital role, but is manageable with a suitable multi-source abstraction platform.
And thirdly is the critical infrastructure of the transport system and associated equipment. Here a private interaction space is essential, but it must allow interoperability between existing platforms. It must also have a semi-permeable membrane so that internal data can be contextualised by the wider Web of Things. Some things can therefore be found by everyone, while other things can only be found by a few trusted parties.
TE: Finally, as a passenger yourself what is one of your favourite journeys?
PG: The most well-known of my favourite journeys is to travel through the multiple spiral tunnels of the Gotthard pass between Switzerland and northern Italy. I had the pleasure of travelling in the cab of an historic Ae4/7 throughout the whole of this route from Zug to Mendrissio – unforgettably brilliant!
Amongst my other favourites are the whole of the RhB Bernina line from St. Moritz to Tirano in the Swiss Engadine, the Albula line from Filisur to St. Moritz in the Swiss Engadine and the Wernigerode to the Brocken in the Hartz Mountains of northern Germany.
TE: Great, thanks very much Paul for some fascinating insights.
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