Smart Cities

Keeping transportation safe in tomorrow's smart city means taking wireless security seriously

The industrial IoT systems that run the trains, connected cars, and critical infrastructure in tomorrow's smart cities will depend on secure wireless networks.

TechRepublic's Teena Maddox sat down with Stewart Kantor, CEO of Full Spectrum, to talk about how his company's wireless network solutions can be used to connect industrial loT systems within the transportation industry and the critical infrastructure systems in major cities.

You can watch the video interview above or read the transcript below (edited for grammar).

Teena Maddox: Smart transportation is a key component of a smart city. I'm talking to Stewart Kantor at Full Spectrum to find out how his company can help. What type of transportation does Full Spectrum work with the most?

Stewart Kantor: Currently our focus, in transportation, is from primarily rail, a combination of passenger and commercial. The idea is positive train control. This railroad has been underway for a very long time. Additionally, there's a whole host of applications: line-condition monitoring, rail crossings, station automation, so there's a whole group of applications that go beyond positive train control that are mission critical to rail and allow them to optimize performance and basically monitor the quality of trains in real time.

That's seems to be of high interest now. We're getting interest primarily from Europe.

Teena Maddox: Tell me about some industrial applications within transportation.

Stewart Kantor: Our focus has been on commercial and rail transportation. There's a real opportunity for industrial internet applications, along with new sensors being developed alongside the tracks, as well as for train automation. We have interest in general aviation, for air-to-ground industrial internet applications which customers are pursuing. We have some frequencies we have access to that could be applied to general aviation, with real time connection to aircraft.

There's a whole host of transportation applications. We also believe there's an application for industrial-connected vehicle and autonomous vehicles, heavily focused on a safety-type network in the background, to the general sensors, and connectivity. These autonomous vehicle-applications will need additional backup networks for security and reliability, in the case of a special event. We're pursuing related applications. It wouldn't be a primary network, but secondary.

Teena Maddox: That's really cool, but you mentioned special events. Can you tell me a little bit more what you mean by that? When you say a special event, what were you referring to?

Stewart Kantor: Well, for example, in the connected vehicle, almost every one of the technologies used today are vulnerable to interference, so GPS is vulnerable to blocking, Wi-Fi, and even the cellular networks are very vulnerable to interference. If you were to take a section of road freeway and buy a $100 device at Radio Shack, set it up to jam frequencies along that section of the freeway, you could interfere with LTE, 5G, GPS, and anything Wi-Fi based, just creating interference to cause a problem.

There'll have to be additional redundancy in the connected vehicle. A technology, like ours, could be used to preserve certain information and make sure it's distributed securely. We're in the very early stage of pursuing thee ideas, but it would be for redundancy and additional data in the background in case of an emergency or an event purposely implemented.

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Teena Maddox: Is it essential for a city to have such a network in place for autonomous or connected cars?

Stewart Kantor: We're starting to see interest from cities for their mission-critical applications. A lot of U.S. municipalities have waste and waste-water systems, and local critical applications that need to be secure. We see interest for our networks from cities and municipalities, for backup network connectivity. For example, a city often in the path of hurricanes needs a backup to the cellular networks for their mission-critical applications. Many cities control pumping stations. Any city at sea level, or slightly above sea level, need to be sure pumping stations don't go out or get flooded.

We're looking at redundancy to some impacted applications as they move towards wireless carriers. We also believe that they'll use our networks as primary, to avoid the vulnerability to a commercial network.

Teena Maddox: Tell me about of the advances in sensor technology.

Stewart Kantor: In terms of the network connectivity, to summarize a bit, we're seeing with the advances in sensor technology, it's really driving more industrial connections at the edge of the grid, and at the edge of any of these networks. That's fueling a lot of the acceptance of our type of network, to cover a large area, very little infrastructure, and, in fact, very quickly too. Right now, we operate a network in the metropolitan New York area just with four of our base stations that covers roughly 20,000 square miles. It's a kind of network that's available for critical applications, at a very low cost, and relatively quick to deploy. That's pretty much a summary.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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