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  1. Technology trends for 2019

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    Staying on top of technology trends is important to DQE, to make sure we offer the best products and services to our customers, preparing for 2019 and beyond in this dynamic industry. Here are some of the things we’re watching right now.

    Autonomous vehicles

    While the widespread launch of fully autonomous cars is not expected for the foreseeable future, more and more autonomous technology is being offered in today’s cars – notably, traffic jam features that can take over acceleration, braking, and even steering when you’re driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    More advanced autonomous driving technologies continue to be developed and tested by dozens of companies. For example, European brands are cooperating on a truck “platooning” concept in which multiple trucks are connected through wireless signals, so that fewer people are required to drive them. In addition, autonomous vehicles are required to consistently update their software, which must be done via wi-fi, and need reliable internet service.

    Process automation

    There is an increased emphasis on business and industrial process automation, which will require an increase in bandwidth as companies upgrade their systems.

    Business process automation helps businesses automate complex business processes by integrating applications and software, particularly in areas like marketing, sales, and workflow. The goal is to reduce manual tasks such as data processing, transferring, and notifications, saving time and money.

    Industrial process automation goes beyond mechanization to use robots, computers, and other information technology to automate processes, thus reducing staffing requirements and increasing quality and productivity. It’s the next step beyond mechanization, and while initial costs are high, the returns are great.

    AI and robotics

    Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the world of robotics, making robots easier to train with less human involvement. Increasingly sophisticated robots are being equipped with 3D vision and the AI necessary to interpret what they see.

    As robotic technology evolves, cloud robotics will develop rapidly, because robots will increasingly require huge datasets in order to accurately process images and speech. Cloud robotics will allow robots to share information in a connected environment.

    AI and robotics are data-heavy technologies, which will help drive the need for fiber and increased bandwidth.

    5G

    5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, and will eventually replace the current 4G (LTE) system. The system will greatly enhance device- and network-level capabilities, providing for a high rate of data, more capacity, better connections, and significantly more device connectivity.

    The improved capacity of the system will enable a drastic increase in the use of IoT technology, with an estimated 75.4 billion devices online by 2025. This should drive innovations in the use of the collected data.

    This is yet another technology trend driving an increased need for fiber optics. Further, the coming 5G network is being implemented more quickly than many experts had predicted – so fiber is now the preferred option for telcoms, and is being deployed at a faster rate than ever.

    Security and the need for protection

    Digital security continues to be a pressing issue, due to frequent , well-publicized data breaches of sensitive information such as credit card records, medical records, and other personal data. The need for cybersecurity will only continue to increase as the digital revolution continues, and more and more information is online.

    At the same time, DDoS attacks are still a constant threat to a wide variety of entities, ranging from private industries to critical infrastructure.

    For all these reasons – as well as regulatory changes, like the European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – worldwide spending on information security products and services continues to dramatically increase.

    Conclusion

    As these technology trends evolve, count on DQE to provide scalable, secure and reliable fiber-based services for your bandwidth needs.

  2. Emerging Technologies: Autonomous Agents and Things

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    One of the hottest trends in technology is autonomous agents and things. That nebulous-sounding term is actually quite precise – it’s a technology that takes advanced machine learning a step further, so that it can make complex decisions on its own, or autonomously. This is beyond simple automation, where something happens automatically according to hard-and-fast rules. Instead, autonomous agents and things make reasoned decisions based on multiple factors about the current situation – they choose actions designed to meet a certain goal without the involvement of people.

    Examples include technologies like self-driving cars, advanced robotics, certain computer programs (including some viruses), or even something like a smart thermostat that senses when people are home and when they’re not, as well as other environmental changes, and adjusts accordingly – as opposed to one that is merely automated, running on a pre-programmed schedule.

    This is an emerging technology, but we can see its evolution in technology most of us encounter every day. For example, virtual assistants like Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft) and Now (Google) began as little more than voice recognition search functions, but are now much more sophisticated. In fact, in 2016 Apple announced that it is allowing third-party apps to access Siri, so that users will be able to ask Siri to accomplish tasks such as sending payment or searching images. Eventually the user experience of a smartphone will likely have an autonomous agent as the entire user interface, rather than a screen full of buttons for different applications.

    Autonomous agents and things builds on the Internet of Things, in which devices are connected to the internet so that actionable data can be gathered. But the deluge of data provided by the IoT is becoming so overwhelming that it’s too much for humans to process. That’s where autonomous agents and things comes in — in the autonomous world, many technologies are interconnected and share data, and then act on it without the involvement of people. In fact, we’re now starting to refer to the Internet of Autonomous Things, or IoAT.

    Challenges with the technology

    We’re not close to the point where an autonomous agent could take over the world, as has been depicted in numerous sci-fi movies (2001: A Space Odyssey, or Her). But there are some significant, albeit more pedestrian, challenges to be addressed.

    Data security on the devices themselves is a significant problem, in that data can be easily recovered from decommissioned items such as smartphones – and people upgrade their phones at an extraordinarily rapid rate. And all kinds of IoT devices with capacity for storing and transmitting data are discarded frequently as well.

    But virtual data security is an even more significant issue. As we’ve seen, the IoT is vulnerable to hacks and security breaches. Currently, the most pervasive problem is that devices are inadequately protected by passwords, leaving them open to be recruited into giant, impersonal botnets used in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. But as we move toward the Internet of Automated Things, where decisions are being made based on data collected by these devices, the potential implications of such hacks – either to the devices themselves, or the cloud where the data is stored – could become more directed, and even more serious.

    Furthermore, security issues – perceived as well as actual – might impact the growth of the technology in that they could cause people to distrust automated systems and things. We’ve already seen this effect with the IoT. It will be important for designers of automated consumer goods to learn from the mistakes of the IoT and effectively address security issues early in the technology’s evolution.

    Another potential issue for automated consumer goods is that people might find them too complicated to use. If, for example, consumers pay extra to buy cutting-edge automated thermostats but get frustrated trying to program them, they’ll give up on those advanced features and just use the manual settings – and might think twice before choosing an automated product again. To avoid this, designers will need to pay special attention to the user experience as they roll out new products.

    In the longer-term, liability will become more of an issue as systems become more and more autonomous – in other words, who will be held responsible if the system makes a decision that has harmful consequences? The manufacturer, or the owner of the system? It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which an autonomous system makes a decision that truly couldn’t be foreseen, especially as systems become more sophisticated. The regulatory framework will need to evolve along with the technology.

    Current applications of autonomous agents and things

    Computer programs are among the most well-developed applications of autonomous technology right now. For example, sophisticated supply chain management programs are capable of evaluating and reacting to needs such as ordering supplies, scheduling workers and so on without human involvement – going beyond simple automation.

    Driverless technologies are already utilized in cars – for example, cars that can park themselves into tight spaces, or automatically brake when they get too close to another car or object. Evolution of truly driverless cars isn’t far behind — in fact, experts think this is possible by 2021. Ford, Nissan, Google, BMW, General Motors, and Daimler are just a few of the big names working toward this goal. Data security is of particular importance with this potential application, as the implications of hacking could be dangerous or life-threatening.

    The world of autonomous agents and things is ever-changing. Keep up with your business’s advancing bandwidth demands with DQE’s secure fiber optic network services, where scalability is unlimited and customization is key.

  3. Technology/IT Trends for 2017

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    The field of information technology continues to evolve at a dizzying pace! Here are some thoughts on important trends and things to watch for in 2017 – many related to how increasing amounts of data are being used to improve automation and efficiency.

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  4. Is Your Business Prepared for a DDoS Attack?

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    On October 21, the east coast of the United States woke up to find a significant portion of the Internet wasn’t working. Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, Reddit, PayPal, SoundCloud, Spotify, Amazon, and even the New York Times were among the sites users were having trouble reaching. The culprit was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a New Hampshire-based Internet infrastructure company. The incident was an unusually large attack, and fortunately it was resolved by the end of the day. However, it illustrates why DDoS is one of the biggest threats to Internet security today.

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