IoT in the Airwaves

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We have explored in our previous posts the different facets of IoT, especially by narrowing the scope to security issues surrounding critical IoT personal medical devices.

By taking a step back on these reflections, few thoughts emerged:

  1. Cyber risks are definitively a critical issue;
  2. It seems that there is no common and agreed standard on how to develop and secure IoT;
  3. We are still blurring about the long-term effects of wireless networks on people.

One other important we did not touch on is at an environmental level. Indeed, wireless networks are growing energy consumers and reducing it is becoming an emerging concern (Trehan, 2012).

Reading the French news a couple of weeks ago, I came across a company based in Labège, near Toulouse, called Sigfox, which provides connectivity for the Internet of Things. Instead of using existing wireless network protocols, they are building their own network called “Ultra narrow band” or UNB, a low-debit cellular network, energy efficient. Basically, it consists of “listening” radio signals from IoT devices, like radio telescopes capturing signals from the space (Sigfox, 2016).

Sigfox made the front page the 18th of November because as a start-up, they raised 150M€ in their third roundtable of funding, collecting a total of 277M€ in total since 2010 (Richaud, 2016) and they got very credible support from the French business world, such as having Anne Lauvergeon, ex-Areva CEO and 11th most powerful women in the world in 2005 according to Forbes (Forbes.com, 2006), as Chair of their Board of Directors (Beky, 2014).

So much attention from all these highly regarded business people would deserve a closer look.

  1. Where this network is deployed

This network is deployed or about to be deployed in 28 countries all across the world (Sigfox, 2016), included Ireland, where there is a full coverage.

ireland-sigfox

 

  1. What applications of this technology are applied in Healthcare?

Telehealth – the Lysbox (France)

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The purpose of this device is to monitor vulnerable elderly residents of retirement homes in the French department of Loiret (Cuny, 2015).

The device acts as a card reader where retirement homes staff can tap their identification card, get some notifications for different day events, i.e. food ready, and monitor the temperature of residents (VT Networks, 2016).

It does not need the Internet and it is built in order to last two years (VT Networks, 2016).

Sigfox Connected Defibrillator Cabinets (Ireland)

Sigfox refers to a 2015 study from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which has “identified nearly 1,000 defibrillators in Ireland that could fail in an emergency because of outstanding maintenance issues” (VT Networks, 2016), considering the fact that “Every year, approximately 5,000 people in Ireland die from cardiac arrest. Of these, 70% happen outside of hospital” (VT Networks, 2016).

These connected defibrillator cabinets can be monitored online and maintained / replaced as soon as needed instead of relying on visual checks.

The first connected defibrillator cabinet was installed actually very recently, the last 7th of November in the Innovation Campus of the Dublin City University.

  1. Is it secure? Can radio airwaves be hacked?

Sigfox claims to provide a secure network as its technology just transmit anonymous binary data (Rakon, 2016), the customer being responsible for what data to send.

However, hackers use already radio signals to break security protocols of laptops and mobile devices (Hussain et al., 2015).

Only the future will tell us what would happen…

 

References

Beky, A. (2014). Sigfox monte en puissance et recrute Anne Lauvergeon. [online] Silicon.fr. Available at: http://www.silicon.fr/internet-objets-sigfox-recrute-anne-lauvergeon-94057.html [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Conseil Général du Loiret, (2015). Lysbox. [image] Available at: http://www.loiret.fr/lysbox-accompagner-les-personnes-agees-dependantes-grands-projets–85387.htm?RH=ACCUEIL [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Cuny, G. (2015). Lysbox : accompagner les personnes âgées dépendantes. [online] Loiret.fr. Available at: http://www.loiret.fr/lysbox-accompagner-les-personnes-agees-dependantes-grands-projets–85387.htm?RH=ACCUEIL [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Forbes.com. (2005). Anne Lauvergeon, The Most Powerful Women. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/11/YTCZ.html [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Hussain, F., Souza, R., Sultan, O., Uzunovic, A. and Raza, A. (2015). How Hackers Can Steal Data Using Radiofrequency. [online] HackRead. Available at: https://www.hackread.com/hacking-computers-data-radiofrequency/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Meme Maker, (2016). IoT everywhere. [image] Available at: http://www.mememaker.net/meme/iot-iot-everywhere/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Rakon. (2016). Rakon-Thinxtra-SIGFOX – your questions answered. [online] Available at: http://www.rakon.com/component/docman/doc_download/499-rakon-thinxtra-sigfox-your-questions-answered?Itemid= [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Richaud, N. (2016). La pépite française Sigfox lève 150 millions d’euros. Les Échos. [online] Available at: http://www.lesechos.fr/tech-medias/hightech/0211508691546-la-pepite-francaise-sigfox-leve-150-millions-deuros-2043959.php [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Sigfox, (2016). Sigfox, the world’s leading provider of Internet of Things connectivity, announces a record funding round. [online] Available at: http://www.sigfox.com/en/press/sigfox-world-s-leading-provider-of-internet-of-things-connectivity-announces-a-record-funding [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Sigfox. (2016). Global coverage. [online] Available at: https://www.sigfox.com/en/coverage [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Trehan, A. (2012). Reducing Energy Consumption In A Wireless Network. [online] Commscope. Available at: http://www.commscope.com/Blog/Reducing-Energy-Consumption-In-A-Wireless-Network/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

VT Networks. (2016). Sigfox Connected Defibrillator Cabinets – VT Networks. [online] Available at: http://vtnetworks.ie/portfolio/connected-defibrillator-cabinets/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

VT Networks. (2016). Telehealth – The Lysbox – VT Networks. [online] Available at: http://vtnetworks.ie/portfolio/telehealth-the-lysbox/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2016].

Image courtesy of Meme Maker

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