Engineering and Entrepreneurship: The Internet of Things

Twitter: #HarvardIoT

Friday, September 30, 2016
8:30am - 2:30pm

Northwest Building
Room B103
52 Oxford Street
Cambridge MA 02138

The “Internet of Things,” in which everyday objects possess network connectivity that allows them to send and receive data, is poised to radically transform the way we live and work. As part of their collaborative series on engineering and entrepreneurship, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Business School hosted a symposium on the Internet of Things, exploring the thrilling opportunities it provides for technological innovation and social organization as well as its potential security risks. The event featured a keynote by Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Commissioner and CIO Brenna Berman, lightning talks by experts in the field, and a case study discussion. The symposium culminated in transportation to the Hynes Convention Center for Demo Day, where local start-up companies, innovation labs, and change-making organizations shared the exciting new work that makes Boston a hub of visionary research.





Welcoming Remarks: Dean Nohria and Dean Doyle


Introduction: Professor Rajiv Lal


Keynote: Brenna Berman: Transforming the Future City 

Adopting Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in the urban environment offers cities a host of opportunities but also presents just as many challenges. Learn about one city's experience - its successes and lessons learned - as it uses connected technologies to course its future. 

Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Commissioner and CIO, Brenna Berman joined the Emanuel administration in 2011. In that time, she has focused on transforming the team at DoIT to provide the skills and expertise to implement the Mayor’s commitment to leveraging data and technology to create a more efficient, effective and innovative City government. This has meant adding new skills to the team to increase the focus on software engineering and analytics, improving the department’s commercial partnerships to drive savings for the City and identifying ground-breaking civic partnerships. Over the past several years, Commissioner Berman and the team at DoIT has delivered on the Mayor’s commitment to a robust open data program, integrated advanced analytics and real-time data-driven decision making across the city, driven IoT innovation for the City through unique partnerships at UILabs and, in partnership with the University of Chicago, realized the vision of urba scale sensing with the Array of Things. Prior to joining the Emanuel Administration, Comm. Berman built a career promoting government innovation over 10 years at IBM, where she worked closely with government agencies in cities and countries across the world to leverage technology and analytics to improve the services they provide to their residents. She advised governments on a variety of issues, from targeting personalized services through analytics to normalizing program offerings to simplify the delivery process and make them understandable to residents. Throughout her time at IBM, Ms. Berman tailored cutting-edge business and data models, from processes to analytic algorithms for large government organizations in order to accelerate their own modernization efforts, providing an incredibly valuable skill set for the work she continues at DoIT. Brenna earned her bachelor’s degree and Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. 




Case Study and Discussion: Selected and Led by Professor Lal




Lightning Talks: Four Harvard SEAS Faculty

Scot Martin, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry

Drone-Based Sensing Opens New Frontiers in the Environmental Sciences: Possibilities for Amazonia

Sensors deployed on fleets of drones represent a revolutionary possibility for understanding an Amazonian ecosystem stressed by climate change, yet unresolved challenges stand in the way of the successful realization of this potential. This talk discussed those challenges and the associated engineering and applied science opportunities. The perplexities and urgency of the science were introduced, and the unique promise of drone-based sensing was illustrated within that scientific landscape.


Na "Lina" Li, Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics

Distributed Energy Management in Power Networks

Recent radical evolution in distributed sensing, computation, communication, and actuation has revolutionized the way the power grid operates and fostered the emergence of the smart grid. In the future, the  grid, especially on the distribution system, will be a large-scale network of distributed energy resources (DERs), each introducing random and rapid fluctuations in power supply, demand, voltage and frequency. These DERs provide tremendous opportunity for sustainability, efficiency, and power reliability. However, a major issue is how intelligent devices and independent producers can respectively change their power consumption/production to achieve near maximum and reliable efficiency for the power network. In this talk, I focused on how to develop scalable, distributed, and real-time control and optimization algorithms to achieve system-wide efficiency, reliability, and robustness for the future power grid.


David Brooks, Haley Family Professor of Computer Science

Cognitive IoT - Taking Machine Learning to Edge Devices

Deep learning methods have transformed many aspects of computing replacing decades-old canonical approaches in many domains. This revolution has been driven by enormous amounts of data, novel machine learning algorithms, and inexpensive, high-performance computing through the cloud. Cognitive IoT is a natural evolution of this technology due to the enormous amount of sensor data and the demand for automated analysis. However, IoT devices are typically tiny computing devices at the far edge of the network, suffering from low compute power, poor communication bandwidth, and intermittent connectivity. Furthermore, privacy concerns may lead users to resist approaches that require their data to be processed in public or private cloud systems. Several faculty members in Harvard SEAS are working together to build new machine learning hardware platforms to enable autonomous, cognitive IoT systems that overcome these limitations. This talk summarized our recent efforts.


Jim Waldo, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science

Some Ethical Considerations of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, which can also be characterized as the Internet of Sensors and Actuators, will create a flood of new data about the world and the people who live in that world. Whether the information is direct, such as GPS coordinates from cell phones; or indirect, such as changes in room temperature, we will have data about everyone at resolutions never before possible. Depending on your point of view, this is either an opportunity for the development of knowledge or a dystopia that would make George Orwell gasp. The implications of these kinds of data streams need to be thought about now, as the alternative is to worry about them when it is too late. This talk looked at some of the problems we will (and, in some cases, already are) grappling with, how we might approach those problems, and why there are no simple solutions. Among other things, we looked at the balance between science and privacy, thought about what privacy means in a fully instrumented world, and discussed why current mechanisms for dealing with these issues are inadequate. 


Closing Remarks: Professor Margo Seltzer


Lunch and Networking (followed by transportation to Demo Day)


Attendees at Demo Day