While cyber security is doing more with less, IT modernization and the importance of public-private partnerships all continue to be important topics for government IT leaders, a new discussion point in these initiatives is quickly gaining ground – the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). Even at the recent AFCEA Homeland Security Conference, the Internet of Things was a topic raised by several panels. Increasingly, IT leaders are agreeing that this innovative concept is poised to offer both opportunities and challenges to all agencies, from those charged with protecting the homeland to those whose missions involve serving citizens in other equally-important ways.
Further, the government seems very open to tackling these challenges and unlocking these potential opportunities in partnership with industry. Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), kicked off the AFCEA event with a keynote address that stressed the importance of public/private partnerships. “One thing we need to do better to really advance unity of effort with industry is … openness and transparency,” Mayorkas said during his address, emphasizing that both government and industry can do better with regard to this. He also acknowledged that industry outspends the government 2-1 in terms of funding research on new capabilities, and not only are the investments smaller but the arduous task of gaining access to federal funding for such research inhibits progress. He emphasized that acquisition processes must evolve to enable progress, rather than stymie it—a concept that Software AG Government Solutions embraces.
The government is already using connected devices across many agencies in various ways, from sensors to help make important decisions at the border, to enhanced public safety and connected vehicle technologies to help assess roadblocks and provide situational awareness intel, as well as to inform first responders and government officials in disaster recovery efforts. While these technologies offer many opportunities, they trigger security ramifications and the need for data collection and analysis technologies to ensure that data collected can be viewed and utilized to best effect. Real-time analytics and visualization capabilities are critical to realizing the power of these new technologies. IT modernization plays an integral role in supporting the IoT and the data center of the future that will be tasked with managing the ever-increasing amount of data these connected devices will generate.
Maintaining the safety and security of Americans in a world of connected devices and social media would be no small challenge even with unlimited budgets, but our reality today demands that IT modernization and cyber security be accomplished despite constantly shrinking budgets. CIOs at the event noted that budget is a top concern. With tight budgets and the nation’s safety at stake, it’s more important than ever that industry and government work together to move the needle on innovation and technology advances. According to a recent report from the AFCEA Cyber Committee, “The Security Implications of the Internet of Things,” between 26 billion and 100 billion, if not more, devices will be connected to the IoT by 2020. Officials across both the government and private sector must establish a balance between the promise these connected devices offer and novel privacy and cyber security concerns inherent in the scenario. Securing the nation against both known and novel threats presented by connected devices is a challenge public and private industry will need to continue to work together to achieve.
Want to learn more about the Internet of Things? Review the chapter preview videos for Software AG’s John Bates’ book titled “Thingalytics.”