By Dr. Deanne Cranford-Wesley
We have all heard the buzz on the internet of Things . . .But do we really know what the internet of things really means? Not just the definition of the Internet of Things (IoT), but what it means as it relates to career pathways for women in cyber and technology fields. The Internet of things is defined as the ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people and is becoming more prevalent in everyday life. The Internet of Things focuses on connecting the unconnected, primarily the ‘things’ of the Internet of ‘Things’. In the Internet of Things, connected devices can communicate with customers, transmit data back to the organization, and compile data for third parties such as researchers, health care providers, (or even other consumers who can measure how their product usage compares with that of their competitors).
Connecting things that are currently unconnected requires a convergence between an organization’s operational technology and the information technology systems those organizations have in place. Operational technology is defined as an organization’s industrial control and automation infrastructure. This includes the sensors and end devices (hardware) and the software that is used to control and monitor the manufacturing equipment and processes. Most communication in Operational Technology is accomplished between machines. IT systems refer to the network infrastructure, telecommunications, and software applications that are used to process information and allow the exchange of that information between people.
To understand the potential of this evolution, we should look beyond the original concept of the Internet of Things. The original idea was formally to have ‘things’ as sensing devices. The ability of ‘things’ to sense their environment and report on its massive usefulness. But we now realize that ‘things’” can also report on their own status, as well as tell us what they are doing and plan to do, which adds another layer of complexity. In an article written by Esmeralda Swatz, CMO, he asked the question: “Is the Internet of Things really the internet of agents?” He uses the word ‘agent’ more broadly than is typically done in IT circles. He states that, agents include all connected things, systems and people who can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other.
Agents provide services to people and to each other. Simple examples of agents that provide online services that have evolved from what used to be products are e-books that can be downloaded to an iPad, tablet or smart phone once purchased–this is a service. Music and movies are progressively offered as services, not products. Consumers pay for streaming of the movie and there are no DVDs or CDs to put on the shelf. If we want to listen to the track or watch the movie again, we stream it again. Even downloads are essentially services, with service fees. Customers pay for the ability to consume the material at will, but in most cases, they don’t own the actual product. Now, when I want to watch a specific movie, I don’t have to visit each online service in turn to search for it. I ask one agent ((Amazon or Google) where I can find that movie, and then I ask the relevant streaming agent to send it to me.
The Internet of Things has created a demand for a broad range of potential IT and cyber positions that are excellent career pathways for women in cyber fields. The associated skills needed span multiple disciplines including computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering, cyber security and domains such as collaboration, data center, virtualization, enterprise networks and securing networks. Potential employees must be skilled in these areas. Individuals with the skillsets to create new products and process the data they collect are very much needed. A workforce is needed that specializes in both information science software, computer engineering and security science (taken to mean a body of knowledge containing laws, axioms, theory relating to some aspect of system security). It has other meanings as well, but we will use this one for our discussion here.
Additionally, operational technologies and information technologies are converging in the Internet of Everything (IoE). Securing these systems is imperative. With this convergence, people must collaborate and learn from each other to understand the things, the networks, methodologies, and the security risk in order to understand the limitless potential of the IoE. The Internet of Everything is creating demand for a new kind of Information and Communications Technology and Cyber Security Specialist–which is a great career path for Women in Cyber Security. Are you ready to embark on this new career opportunity immersed in Internet of ‘Things’?
Dr. Kathleen Fisher, DARPA Program Manager
Srinivasan Sundara Rajan
Companies Hiring Hackers to Test Internet of Things Security Efforts
Internet of Everything
Education and the Internet of Everything