Here we are the beginning of another year. It comes as no surprise that 2013 bring us new opportunities and challenges. The year 2012 was charged with news and information on the United States’s economy and events—both political and non-political as well as both good and bad—around the world.
Some major events of 2012 included the olympics, an election, a “super storm,” and continued unrest abroad. While 2013 may appear calmer compared to 2012 due in part to fewer “big” events scheduled this year, the information technology (IT) industry and profession advances forward. The IT industry, interestingly enough, shapes events in addition to being shaped by events around the world.
I use the phrase “shaped and is shaped by” because IT has become so pervasive and such a part of our lives that it's importance cannot be measured. We have seen social media take a bigger role in political events around the world, and we hear the “smart” adjective on more and more of our devices and appliances. For 2013, I see “analytics” as being the year’s the big IT word.
All the data that the actions of our lives produce is continually being processed and analyzed by social media, smart devices, and the online activity we interact with constantly, more often without us even thinking about it. We will see more data analysis in 2013, but whether these analytics are good or bad, I will leave that to the reader. Here are some of my predictions for our IT industry and profession for 2013.
We will hear more about “smart” physical, or perimeter, security systems. We will see the market for these security system grow, and we will see these security systems become more ubiquitous in 2013. I do not necessarily make this prediction happily, as it is mostly a response to the acts of violence we have seen committed in our nation. These smart security systems are largely based on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Future Attribute ScreeningTechnology (FAST) program, and they also depend upon configuration management for their successful operation.
The FAST technology seeks to detect malevolent actions before they can be committed. FAST uses sophisticated screening to detect behaviors that are likely to be exhibited by potential criminals. FAST systems use hardware and software systems to measure bodily changes such as body temperature, eye movement, body movement, voice pitch, and other changes. All this data is analyzed by the system against baseline data to identify potential candidates who may have malicious purposes. FAST is a collaboration between computer and behavioral scientists, and it is another example of analytics predicting human behavior.
FAST systems have key advantages. They are built with small cameras and other stealthy, inexpensive, easily and redundantly configured hardware; the results can be analyzed in real time, and they can be instantly relayed to a remote lab or security center for further action. In 2013, we will see more public places like shopping centers, theaters, transportation hubs, etc., deploying “FAST-like” systems to tighten security. These systems will provide opportunities for the IT profession, and they make a lot of sense—these smart systems are economical, noninvasive, proactive, and any false positives are likely not injurious.