Last Updated: December 03, 2020.
Let’s quickly think about how we got where we are now before I lead you on a trip to the future of connected devices.
I am grateful to have invested in such exciting inventions and digital developments throughout my career. Some of them need to be shared so you truly appreciate how great technology can be, and what an amazing future lies ahead. That said we need to accept technology, which has both positive and negative potentials, with accountability and protection by design.
The Digitization of Medical Records
Medical documents were stored in a library, on paper, in files a long time ago. It took some time to get an appointment with a GP doctor as the medical records could take three to four weeks to get examined and taken to the clinic.
Different workers were managing the documents on their journey to the doctor’s office, they were then updated by hand (in terrible handwriting) and returned to the medical library.
It was extremely ineffective. The documents were vulnerable to human error and were often destroyed. There was little privacy because the documents were exposed to the workers who accessed confidential data and had little or no security.
Nothing was done to discourage unauthorized staff from reviewing the patient records because of course, people are curious by nature. There was no monitoring of access: the checks of those who had access to the files or who looked at the folder were not carried out.
Medical records were digitized in 1991The purpose was to increase productivity and precision, improve security, reduce wasted time, and ultimately, save lives.
It meant that in real-time a physician could access patient medical records and immediately update them for other doctors to access if authorized. When used as a means of transportation, it also opened up resources.
This digitization effort was seen as an impressive life-saving improvement that saved time as well. And while it is fantastic to adopt technology, it changes the fields in which protection and privacy must be centralized.
This breakthrough was a major move in allowing doctors direct access to the records of patients, a privilege that relies heavily on security measures for Identity and Access Management.
The Connected Ambulances
Years back, another fascinating project came my way while working for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. This was after the launches of Windows 95, Metaframe, and Winframe (most people still recognize this as Citrix Virtual Apps), and yeah, the big bug that some will now recall as the popular Y2K bug that cost me long office days and nights.
I’m not going to drag you through all those encounters, but there was one for the medical profession that saved lives and increased efficiency: connecting ambulances to the emergency room.
It was the beginning of mobile networking with EDGE (enhanced GSM Evolution data rates) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). One big problem hospitals facing was the early intervention of paramedics and emergency room preparation when accidents occurred.
Minutes or seconds can be important for the life of a human. An idea was developed: why not link ambulances to the internet and pass the vital signs of patients to the emergency room so that it will be prepared and doctors could examine the vital health information of patients before arrival?
That would require the connection of medical systems with mobile internet and either GPRS or EDGE inside the ambulance at that time. Devices including ECG tracking, defibrillation devices, and ventilators could be attached with a data cable to mobile phones.
The big breakthrough finally ensured that data could be transmitted via the cell phone in a mobile ambulance (yes, faxed to the emergency room—the most secure route at the time).
ER employees will collect data via printed fax to allow critical early data analysis and extra time to ready an emergency room for the patient’s arrival.
Internet networking devices have a strong positive effect on individuals. While history may have had restrictions and difficulties in terms of protection over time, we have accomplished our goal of a safer community and life-saving.
We have all looked at how to enhance and preserve life, and technology will make a positive and negative contribution. My familiarity with ambulance ER networking dating more than 20 years ago has made a huge improvement in technology, meaning that emergency room staff can start treating patients even before they reach the emergency room.
Fax machine: the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device.)
The Future of Connected Devices: Autonomy, Automation, and AI
Who thought it would be a smart idea to link a dump truck to the internet? Well, this was just another computer with good outcomes that got linked to the internet. This has reduced the risks for employees in the mining sector.
Long before COVID 19 had driven several people to work remotely, there were many risky working conditions, including Logging, shipping, oil and gas, and medical sectors, which shifted away to remote operations.
The use of drones to inspect breakdown or repair checks to detect leakage both in the mine and marine sectors brings people away from unsafe conditions and increase production and automation.
Imagine a mineral truck driver waking up at home in the morning, driving a huge mineral truck hundreds of miles away from the comfort of a workplace or home in the car simulator. Removing people from unsafe workplace conditions often leads to a longer time away from their households than weeks away.
I really loved being part of creativity and turning ideas into reality. The common denominator in the journeys I was lucky to have taken part in is that they are all involved in enhancing or saving human lives.
Both these changes have resulted in a healthier, cleaner world, whether it is taking on something incredibly complicated, such as a ship, a car, or an aircraft, or a basic job, such as spinning a password or upgrading access controls.
Vehicles are increasingly being autonomous, and many self-driving buses have recently been launched in Estonia to transport people around the region. This is also one example of how they can even automate smart devices.
The Connected Future and Evolution of Work
I shared my views on the integration of virtual reality, augmented reality, and the physical world in a TEDx talk a few years ago.
Connected Devices from a Security Perspective
The future of connected technology is just going to strengthen society. It also, though, entails more protection and privacy concerns, so we need to accept technologies wisely and ethically and we need to understand security by design.
It is necessary for connected devices only to be allowed with authorized entry. This includes incorporating good identity and access protection with automatic privileged access security measures for the potential security of these systems.
This eliminates the risk of cyber attackers endangering or abusing connected computers. We must also implement the standards of cyber-security, such as proper hygiene of passwords, encrypted data where appropriate, monitor access to security, and auditing capacity for the access to and access to a computer, an application, or an employee.
Finally, imagine drones — deliveries, emergency care, controls, or temperature tracking sensor sets — as well as automated vehicles, Lorries, and cars. We need to understand the protection of these devices by nature, as we continue to incorporate more internet-enabled devices.