• IoT
  • Tanzania has a new diabetes management device

    Diabetes is a huge and growing problem, and the costs to society are high and escalating. The disease’s reaching epidemic proportions the world over, so includes Africa. In 2013, approximately 19.6 million people suffered from diabetes in Africa, says the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). It estimates that there’ll be more people suffering, around 41.5 million by 2035.

    In 2013, Tanzania had 1.7 million people living with diabetes, the fourth highest in Africa. To address the problem, the country’s launching an innovative device to help people with diabetes manage their condition better.

    Thousands of Tanzanians with diabetes will now be able to send their glucose levels to doctors using a smart technology device introduced by Cumii International to ensure efficient diabetes management. The device will be launched within the next month, says an article in All Africa. 

    It’ll utilise the Internet of Things (IOT), It’s expected to revolutionise the existing smart technology market in Tanzania, as it provides a practical and essential solution to consumers in both urban and rural areas.

    Norman Moyo, the CEO of Cumii International, said he’s excited about the possibilities of IoT. "Africa is on the threshold of a new era of innovation and change with the convergence of industry powered by computing, analytics, low cost sensing and higher level of connectivity. This is bringing a profound transformation to many aspects of daily life and our ways of working".

    Tanzania is part of Cumii International's key Pan African markets that includes Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, DRC, Uganda and Nigeria rolling out connected services as part of its suite of IOT services in Africa.

  • Is IoT changing Africa's eHealth opportunities in a big way?

    Machines that send data to each other embody some core features of science fiction, but they’re here now and expanding. The Internet of Things (IoT) has much to offer Africa’s health systems, and the opportunities are expanding. Many of these were highlighted at the African Healthcare Summit. 

    While IoT for health’s a relatively new phenomenon, an important theme’s that Africa’s health systems can move towards it by building from existing eHealth. Telepathology and teleradiology already contain data that a wider range of machines can transfer routinely to each other directly, and provide rich sources of data for analytics for both surveillance of communities and more personalised care for individuals. The Summit revealed that eHealth’s long awaited paradigm shift’s arriving with IoT. 

    Most of Africa’s eHealth strategies don’t provide for this yet. With the opportunities approaching rapidly, strategies need reviewing to incorporate IoT for health. The themes are: 

    What do Africa’s health systems need to do to be ready for IoT for health? What are Africa’s health systems’ information priorities for IoT for health? How do Africa’s health systems realise the benefits from IoT for health?

    Acfee’s setting in place a new, long-term work programme to heighten the new significance of IoT for health. It includes providing health systems with insights and information as they emerge. It’s a theme that eHNA’ll be returning to frequently.

  • Philips partners with Amazon to expand digital health solutions

    Philips and Amazon have joined forces to connect millions of devices to the Internet of Things (IoT) using Amazon Web Services (AWS). An article in Med Device Online says the deal extends the health data management connectivity and capability of Philips own HealthSuite digital platform. 

    “Our HealthSuite digital platform and its device cloud are already managing more than seven million connected, medical-grade and consumer devices, sensors, and mobile apps. With the addition of AWS IoT, we will greatly accelerate the pursuit of our vision. It will be easier to acquire, process, and act upon data from heterogeneous devices in real-time. Our products, and the care they support, are enabled to grow smarter and more personalized over time,” says Jeroen Tas, CEO Healthcare Informatics, Solutions and Services, Philips.

    For data from unrelated devices to interact securely with each other, device manufacturers have to create expensive new systems. AWS IoT is a cost effective alternative that provides a "pay-as-you-go service that handles the heavy lifting." The system makes these devices interoperable and allows for better managing of the continuous stream of data they create. 

    "The digital health revolution and the power of the Internet of Things offer tremendous opportunities to positively transform how care is delivered," said Tas in a separate release. "By unleashing data from connected devices and health records, combined with analytics, valuable insights into how we can live and age well can be uncovered.”

    Philips introduced its initial series of personal health programmes where consumers can use health devices, related apps, and a cloud-based data analysis performed by HealthSuite in Germany last month. The devices include a health watch, blood pressure monitor, body analysis scale, and ear thermometer.

    Philips claims that, every year, over 275 million hospital patients are monitored by Philips equipment, and it sells the same number of consumer appliances into homes across the world. This new partnership should have global implications for eHealth, so Africa.

  • IoTSF to tackle IoT's cyber-vulnerabilities

    Cyber-security’s an increasing priority. The Internet of Things (IoT) hasn’t escaped it. eHNA’s already reported on the growing demand for better IoT security. The Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) was set up today. It’s an initiative of more than 30 major suppliers of IoT services and products are eager to ensure that their IoT devices aren’t vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

    IoTSF has a clear view:

    IoT’s economic impact will be measured in $trillions The number of connected devices will be measured in billions The resultant benefits of a connected society are significant, disruptive and transformational Alongside the opportunities are fears and concerns about the IoT security IoTSF’s goal’s to respond to the concerns.

    You can register with IoTSF on its website and sign up to its newsletter. It’s an important initiative. 

  • Whose data is it anyway?

    Ownership’s not a trivial matter. The play Whose Life is it Anyway? by Brian Clark in the 1970s explored decisions about euthanasia. Now, we also have the question of whose data is it?

    Like all new technology, there are benefits and costs. In an interview in Harvard Business Review (HBR), Prof Pentland, from the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says for Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), success depends on an assumption that the data generated by Internet companies and dispersed devices belongs to the organisations collecting it. What if it doesn’t?

    Prof Pentland suggests that companies don’t own the data, so without rules specifying who does, consumers and regulators will have their own, different views on ownership and inhibit progress. Guidelines and rules are needed so people can control data about them. Some of his principles to achieve this include:

    People have a right to know Transparency’s key Don’t hamper innovation Treat data like money Make sure it scales.

    As African’s move ahead slowly to improve eHealth regulation, it’s important they take account of principles like these in framing and setting their specific eHealth legislation and regulations. 

  • IoT expansion needs security measures

    Malicious intruders already know how to flout the security of the Internet of Things (IoT), but IoT’s forecast expansion may just add more security holes for cyber criminals to exploit.

    A blog at Trustwave by Dan Kaplan, its online content manager, sets out five steps to take to help block them. It’s not an exhaustive list.

    Know what you've signed up for, understand how it operates, what data it’s collecting, why it’s being collected and where its stored Avoid the market rush, build in, and maintain security from the start Test, don't guess, so you know and understand the assets on your network and weaknesses across your IoT environment in embedded devices, interface applications, back-end services, Application Programming Interfaces (API), cloud clusters and the connections in between Hold vendors accountable if you're buying IoT, vet their security as you would your own and ask them what they do to ensure the security of your IoT, then demonstrate it Practice defence in-depth, so IoT’s not the endpoint, but an entire ecosystem that needs a thorough set of security measures, including authentication controls, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection, intrusion prevention, web application firewalls, incident monitoring, patching and incident response.

    As Africa’s health systems approach IoT investment, it has time to put these measures in place to minimise their risk exposures. It can become routine good practice.

  • Is it now the Internet of Everything?

    It hasn’t taken long for the digerati to move the Internet of Things (IoT) on to the Internet of Everything (IoE). At the Bio Science 2015 conference a report in Bio Science Technology (BST) the session “The Internet of Everything Meets Digital Health” set out how it might look in some specific settings. It fits into Africa’s mHealth directions.

    Cognitive training software provides mental exercises for schizophrenia patients. The aim is to improve cognition to support patients’ recoveries. Wearables and biosensors can help to monitor thoughts and feelings, set daily schedules and manage medication compliance.

    In oncology services, computational immunotherapy and genomics are beginning to offer alternatives to chemo and radiotherapy. It includes better modelling of immune systems to find new breakthroughs and bigger genomic analysis of populations. The falling price of this technology is improving its sustainability.

    Wireless medicine is leading to connected sensors for monitoring patients in clinical trials. These will become routine services for healthcare as nodes on the net to transmit information from a range of sources to help researchers form a more comprehensive view of people’s conditions and illnesses. 

    Cloud computing and social network are essential resources for the digital healthcare’s evolution. They lead on to the need for a better infrastructure in place to collect and analyse the new an immense data as part of Big Data’s emerging role in health and healthcare.

    Do these examples take the IoT into an IoE realm? It may not be important if they don’t. It’s more important that they show a set of scenarios for Africa’s mHealth that leads to its role in analytics and Big Data. It’s a long, slow journey. To run is necessary to arrive. 

  • Is IoT an open goal for security threats?

    As healthcare and eHealth adopt more Internet of Things (IOT) devices for activities such as monitoring and mHealth, they need to deal with privacy, security and safety risks. Ahmed Banafa sets these out in Open Mind. The start point is that the IoT has broad and potentially crippling security risks because its infrastructure components offer a good target for national and industrial espionage, denial of service and other attacks. These lead to privacy concerns about personal information.

    With many IoT devices located in remote and inhospitable places, sustained physical security is a challenge. From these, cyber-attackers can change controls, intercept, read or change data and change functionality. Home control hubs have been found to be vulnerable. These highlight security priorities for Africa’s healthcare. There are safety issues too because IoT interfaces with the physical world.

    The extensive use of basic tools and practices is a first step. They include data encryption, rigorous user authentication, resilient coding and standardised, tested and proven Application Program Interfaces (API) that define exactly how programs interact with the rest of their software world.

    IoT devices can’t often defend against attackers, so need firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems to protect them. Creating a separate network segment for IoT is also an option.

    Perhaps the most important step is for suppliers to incorporate effective security in their IoT. This could fit alongside agreed interoperability standards that are safe and valid. These measures can extend across mHealth too, making it a single, comprehensive activity. This is more manageable for African countries than lots of separate security measures. It also needs a cadre of skilled staff to deal with it, and this needs sustained recruitment, development and retention measures.

  • Security a growing concern with more IoT

    Michael Heller is a Senior Reporter at Search Security’s Tech Target. His post on security of the Internet of Things (IoT) sets out the issues that health systems need to deal with. First, it’s important because as more devices join IoT, experts fear that the increase in entry points for cyber-criminals will lead to serious embedded systems security risks that many organisations are unaware of, or unable to mitigate.

    More devices like USBs will come with IoT. These have security flaws, some of which may not be fixed, so may be carried into the new generation of embedded devices, like wearables, stretchables and ingestables. Resource constraints may be part of the underlying weaknesses. It’s probably worse for IoT devices than for mobile phones that iterate quickly. Embedded IoT systems have longer lives, so may miss out on system updates.

    Part of the response is stricter control of who’s allowed to connect to organisation’s networks. Alongside this, IoT devices need authenticating before sending or receiving data on corporate networks. Another approach is to isolate vulnerable IoT systems behind gateways or on virtual systems, then ensure that gateway updating rules can stop new threats.

    A prerequisite is to design hardware and firmware from the ground up, and include features to prevent access from malware or physical interference. It’s essential that Africa’s healthcare has the resources and capability to test for these, and the other security proposals, as part of procurement.  It seems like a new strand of expertise that African healthcare needs.

  • Are IoT's risks understood and mitigated?

    Risk pervades all endeavours. It’s prevalent in actions and inaction. Mark Zuckerberg, a Facebook co-founder thinks that “The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” The challenges are first, is the risk of change so great that it’s unmanageable? Second is how to mitigate manageable risks? Dealing with these enables investors and decision takers to realise a good relationship between risk and reward.

    The Healthcare Internet of Things Rewards and Risk is a report from the Atlantic Council. McaFee, a sponsor with Intel Security, has a summary. The core proposition is that industry must build security into IoT devices from the outset, not as an afterthought. It’s becoming an imperative as IoT move rapidly towards consumers and embedded in medical devices, wearables, stretchables and ingestables.

    It sees the main risks as disruption, leading to threating and distressing situations. This lays a responsibility on numerous IoT actors, including the IoT industry, regulators, and the medical profession. Minimising the risks across the IoT networks helps to maximise the rewards, especially for patients and health workers and the software, firmware, and communication technology firms.

    The report sees this risk and reward emphasises the “Delicate balance between the promise of a new age of technology and society’s ability to secure the technological and communications foundations of these innovative devices.”

    Disruption is seen from three main causes:

    Accidental failures where the technology destroys users’ trusts and IoT demand Privacy violations from often unpredictable malicious attacks Connected devices susceptible to malware that infects IoT devices.

    Requires actions are:

    Evolving regulation that’s co-ordinated and provides incentives for medical device and IoT innovation Better private to private and public to private collaboration Regulators that keep pace with technological progress.

    This provides a challenge for African countries. eHNA posted that their eHealth regulation is limited, and well below good practices from other continents. Both regulatory capacity and capability needs expanding considerably for African countries to keep pace with IoT. There are affordability and expertise constraints. If these aren’t overcome, then the business case for IoT investments needs a significant adjustment for risks, many of which will remain unmitigated. This’ll be inhibiting as the long-term strategic opportunities for mHealth and IoT are considerable for Africa’s vastly overstretched healthcare systems.

    Patrick Warburton, an actor, has another view of risk. “You've got to go out there, jump off the cliff, and take chances.” After you, Patrick. African countries should be at the back of this queue.