According to SHERRY ZAMEER of Gemalto, if we don’t build robust security into our 5G networks, we will miss the big opportunity this technology offers us.
The current expectation is that the first commercial 5G networks will be rolled out in 2020, just two years away. The early adopters will naturally be those countries whose 4G networks are already in place, but there is no doubt that African players are already busy laying the foundations for their future 5G plays.
“It is clear that 5G has huge potential to unlock all sorts of new solutions, especially as an enabler for the Internet of Things, but all the behind-the-scenes preparatory work will be wasted if security is not prioritised,” says Sherry Zameer, Senior VP IOT in CISMEA region at Gemalto. “5G has the potential to transform the use case for mobility dramatically, but it will require innovative and robust security solutions to be in place.”
Big operators in Africa will be gearing up to demonstrate the performance jump 5G offers: download speeds of 20 gigabits per second meaning that there is very little delay between transmission and reception of a signal. This “immediate” response to commands is essential for many futuristic applications; driverless cars, for example, need split-second responses, as do critical health care and industrial applications.
Sherry Zameer says that Gemalto is deeply engaged in helping develop security standards, primarily interacting with industry organisations like the GSMA (which represents the interests of mobile operators) and NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks).
As one might expect, many of the characteristics that make 5G so attractive create some of these critical security vulnerabilities:
5G will be critical for the Internet of Things.
5G’s speed and latency alone will make it a key platform for the expanding Internet of Things. Also, it will enable virtualised network infrastructures designed for specific uses. The result will be a mix of open-source and proprietary software and hardware on the network. This will mean that traditional mobile networks built on hardware/ software combinations provided by trusted vendors will become much more heterogeneous—and will provide a greater attack surface than current cellular networks.
5G will enable a much more flexible use of “edge” resources to take load off the core network. The caching of local content will change the way that data and cellular communications are stored—and secured.
The nature of the threat will change.
As more and more devices come onto the 5G network, mobile networks’ traditional focus on preventing eavesdropping will be supplanted by a need to protect against data manipulation and similar types of attack. Such attacks could be used to instruct a machine to perform an unwanted action, like opening a factory gate to robbers, taking control of an autonomous vehicle or disabling warning systems.
A complicating factor will be that many of the devices connected to the network will not be able to encrypt communications, the traditional first line of network defence. Another issue will be the sheer volume of machine-to-machine communication—maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of this data will be no sinecure.
This complex threat landscape will mean that both network operators and the manufacturers of consumer electronics will have the opportunity to provide security as a service. These offerings would be graded to the level of threat to the particular data stream, and its importance.
“Africa is pre-eminently mobile when it comes to communications technologies and the Internet. 5G thus has a potentially important role to play as the continent seeks to establish itself as a player in the global economy,” Sherry concludes. “We must not fall into the trap of just seeing it as a technical and financing challenge: if we don’t build robust security into our 5G networks, we will miss the big opportunity this technology offers us.”
UN calls for electronics overhaul to beat e-waste
Seven UN entities have come together at the World Economic Forum to tackle the escalating scourge of electronic waste.
Seven UN entities have come together, supported by the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to call for an overhaul of the current electronics system, with the aim of supporting international efforts to address e-waste challenges.
The report calls for a systematic collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to reorient the system and reduce the waste of resources each year with a value greater than the GDP of most countries.
Each year, approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste)
Less than 20% of this is recycled formally. Informally, millions of people worldwide (over 600,000 in China alone) work to dispose of e-waste, much of it done in working conditions harmful to both health and the environment.
The report, “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot,” launched in Davos 24 January, says technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), support gradual “dematerialization” of the electronics industry.
Meanwhile, to capture the global value of materials in the e-waste and create global circular value chains, the report also points to the use of new technology to create service business models, better product tracking and manufacturer or retailer take-back programs.
The report notes that material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of electronics supply chains will all be essential for future production.
And if the electronics sector is supported
The joint report calls for collaboration with multinationals, SMEs, entrepreneurs, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations to create a circular economy for electronics where waste is designed out, the environmental impact is reduced and decent work is created for millions.
The new report supports the work of the E-waste Coalition, which includes:
- International Labour Organization (ILO);
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU);
- United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment);
- United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO);
- United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR);
- United Nations University (UNU), and
- Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions (BRS).
The Coalition is supported by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Economic Forum and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Environment Management Group (EMG).
Considerable work is being done on the ground. For example, in order to grasp the opportunity of the circular economy, today the Nigerian Government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment announce a 2 million dollar investment to kick off the formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria. The new investment will leverage over 13 million dollars in additional financing from the private sector.
According to the International Labour Organization, in Nigeria up 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste sector. This investment will help to create a system which formalizes these workers, giving them safe and decent employment while capturing the latent value in Nigeria’s 500,000 tonnes of e-waste.
UNIDO collaborates with a large number of organizations on e-waste projects, including UNU, ILO, ITU, and WHO, as well as various other partners, such as Dell and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). In the Latin American and Caribbean region, a UNIDO e-waste project, co-funded by GEF, seeks to support sustainable economic and social growth in 13 countries. From upgrading e-waste recycling
Another Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) report launched today by the World Economic Forum, with support from Accenture Strategy, outlines a future in which Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies provide a tool to achieve a circular economy efficiently and effectively, and where all physical materials are accompanied by a digital dataset (like a passport or fingerprint for materials), creating an ‘internet of materials.’ PACE is a collaboration mechanism and project accelerator hosted by the World Economic Forum which brings together 50 leaders from business, government and international organizations to collaborate in moving towards the circular economy.
Matrics must prepare for AI
By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.
Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.
With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.
Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.
Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist.
So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?
For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.
In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.
This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.
In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.
As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.
This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.
The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.