U.S. Postal Service Issues RFP for Sensors and Internet of Things
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is planning to test sensors to determine whether the technology, as part of a broader Internet of Things (IoT) project, could help it streamline operations. The USPS' Office of Inspector General (OIG) is offering up to $100,000 to a supplier that can help and, in a solicitation, said it seeks a vendor "who possesses expertise and critical knowledge of the Internet of Things, data strategy and analytics, and the Postal Service's operations, infrastructure, products, and services," according to documents that it posted at FedBizOpps.gov. The purpose of the Internet of Postal Things Project, the documents explain, is to help the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC) "find a contractor able to support RARC in researching the concept of the Internet of Things, its implications, and how it could apply to the Postal Service." RARC is a group within the USPS OIG that analyzes issues facing the Postal Service. In January 2014, the OIG, in collaboration with the Universal Postal Union, hosted experts discussing how postal operators could benefit from Big Data. The Internet of Things was among the topics that emerged during the discussion. The solicitation documentation describes the IoT as "the ability to embed sensors and other data collection technologies into physical objects, infrastructures, and the surroundings in which people live and businesses operate." The USPS is asking the potential supplier to research the IoT; provide a vision of how that could be applied to the Postal Service; develop a conceptual design of how new sensors and other data-collection technologies could increase the ability of the USPS infrastructure to create value for its business, customers and stakeholders through data; identify the components of the postal physical infrastructure that could lend themselves to the collection of new types of data; and more. One document features examples of where Big Data and sensors are already being used to solve operational issues, such as for predictive fleet maintenance, as well as for the collection of consumer and environmental data.
TransTech Systems Adds UHF to Integrated RFID Solutions Portfolio
Visualant, a provider of chromatic-based identification and diagnostic solutions, has announced that its TransTech Systems subsidiary is increasing its emphasis on ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solutions. TransTech Systems is a distributor of identification solutions, and its products include fixed readers, antennas, combination units, handheld readers, passive tags, active tags, battery-assisted passive tags, portals and middleware, and has historically specialized in low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) RFID products. TransTech is now extending offerings to include UHF identification components. The company is using UHF RFID inlays and readers supplied by Alien Technology, Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL), Document Security Systems (DSS), Impinj, Lyngsoe Systems, Thing Magic, Times-7 and others. "While UHF RFID solutions are not overly complex, having the expertise to match the appropriate components to the environment of the installation is critical to the success of the project," said Jeff Kruse, TransTech Systems' president, in a prepared statement. "We bring our service and support ethic to an industry where success is defined by the components used in each specific installation. This kind of support cannot come in a box." The company's products have been used in various applications in partnership with resellers and software developers—for example, a uniform tracking and dispensing application that employs RFID to automate uniform dispersal for employees at several major hotel and resort locations around the world; an instant inventory-checking application for emergency medical technician (EMT) and ambulances that involves RFID-tagged critical equipment and supplies, and a portable handheld scanner that EMTs can use to instantly check that they have all required items; a retail application for high-value items; and more.
New Internet of Things Survey from Fortinet Reveals Concerns about Data Security and Privacy
Fortinet, a provider of network security, has released the results of a global survey that probed home owners regarding key issues pertaining to the Internet of Things (IoT). Independently administered throughout 11 countries, the survey, titled, "Internet of Things: Connected Home," offers a global perspective about the Internet of Things, the security and privacy issues in play, and what home owners are willing to do to enable it. According to John Maddison, Fortinet's VP of marketing, the company opted not to define the IoT, "as it holds different meanings for different people. Because of that, we specifically titled our survey 'Internet of Things: Connected Home,' to help guide the respondent in understanding that this was about home devices, rather than infrastructure or automotive or other markets that are destined to be impacted by the Internet of Things." Maddison says the relationship between the IoT and the connected home is hierarchal, encompassing a broad array of Internet-connected devices that can collect and transmit data. "The connected home is just one subset of the Internet of Things," he states. "We started with the home because that's the logical starting point, but in time, I would expect that Fortinet will conduct other Internet of Things surveys to gauge and measure how security will play a role as this vision becomes a reality." Completed this month, the survey asked 1,801 technology-savvy homeowners questions related to the IoT as it pertains to the connected home. A majority (61 percent) of all respondents believe that the connected home (in which household appliances and home electronics are seamlessly connected to the Internet) is "extremely likely" to become a reality during the next five years. China led the world in this category, with more than 84 percent affirming support, while in the United States, 61 percent provided that response. Data breaches were a concern, and globally, 69 percent said that they were either "extremely concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about this issue. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. respondents indicated being "extremely concerned" or "somewhat concerned." When asked about the privacy of collected data, a majority of global respondents replied, "Privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used." According to Fortinet, India led the world with this response, at 63 percent, while 57 percent in the United States agreed with this statement. The survey also revealed that data privacy is an extremely sensitive issue, with the majority (62 percent) saying they would feel "completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action" if they found that a connected home device was secretly or anonymously collecting information about them and sharing it with others. Sixty-seven percent of Americans also agreed with this statement.