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Should primary producers do more to protect their data?


29 January 2019

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control.

While this may not sound as exciting as a topic like artificial intelligence or robotics, in today’s new world, it is increasingly becoming an essential requirement for any successful business strategy. A key focus for this year’s agritech event, MobileTECH 2019, is the importance of smart data and how to ensure it is working towards the right outcomes.

Production chains, government agencies, farmers and researchers are experiencing a “Big Data Deluge” from sensors, space, legacy systems and more. But how safe and reliable is the data coming from satellites or IoT devices? Are you actually making good sense of it? How secure are the devices that collect that data? Are they working accurately and transmitting with precision? Should you consider establishing a “hardware root of trust”?

In the 2018 Inmarsat Research Programme global report, ‘Industrial IoT on Land and at Sea’, 98% of agricultural companies said that they had security concerns around data and the use of IoT. Security was one of the main factors hindering use of data, with 36% reporting that insecure data storage and transmission limited how effective it was. Only 34%, however, had moved to improve the security of physical assets like sensors and just 25% invested in new security technologies.

Nicolas Erdody is founder and CEO of Open Parallel and one of New Zealand’s foremost experts on next-gen computing technologies and how they will impact the whole high-tech production chain - with cybersecurity being a core component. Mr Erdody has also been part of the global team designing the computing platform of the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope (SKA), one of the world’s largest supercomputers and the ultimate big data project.

At MobileTECH 2019 he will be discussing the above questions so primary producers can securely rely on data and take the adequate decisions on issues like water management, precision agriculture and supply chain distribution.

“I’m looking forward to speaking at MobileTECH 2019,” said Mr Erdody. “With the large amounts of data now being generated, it’s important to discuss the application and implementation of these state-of-the-art technologies into New Zealand’s primary sector.”

The MobileTECH Primary Industry Summit is now in its seventh year. Since it’s conception, the MobileTECH’s conference director, Ken Wilson, has seen technology and the use of smart data evolve within the sector.

“This event provides a platform for the agritech community to meet and discuss the big ideas impacting our sector,” said Mr Wilson. “Smart data has become an essential component in growth of industries like agriculture, horticulture and forestry, so it makes sense that data security and data reliability are critical issues going forward.”

MobileTECH 2019 is running on 3-4 April 2019 in Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s the country’s annual agritech event where tech developers and early adopters from around the region meet to discuss the latest digital technologies impacting on our food and fibre sectors.

Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.


ends

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