Nokia and the City of Hamilton: Smart City Innovations
“Our ambition as a company is to create an inclusive, digital world,” says Shawn Sparling, VP Enterprise and Public Sector at Nokia Canada. Achieving that requires network connectivity, something in which the company is a specialist. “We look at networks as foundational to bringing that inclusiveness to the world, whether we’re talking about smart cities or rural areas. That’s especially true in today’s world where our technology is helping communities secure access to healthcare and education.” Nokia provides the infrastructure that make this possible. “At Nokia, we offer the foundation through optical networks, high-speed networks, home IP routing, and of course, wireless 4G and 5G connectivity.”
In recent times, Sparling has seen the industry shift towards more efficient and greener solutions, alongside a move towards virtualization. “This creates complexity but also enables a quicker turnaround to new solutions. With technology changing so fast we’re focused on creating cities that are connected and smart, while simultaneously being safer and more efficient.”
It is precisely this impetus that has driven Nokia to partner with the City of Hamilton. “We're outcome-based, so the question really was: what do they need? What are the issues that they're facing as the city? Whether it's air quality, traffic, or responsiveness to health emergencies.” Aside from working directly with the city, Nokia also works with service providers. “We're one of the largest suppliers to network operators across Canada and our equipment is bringing connectivity to homes across the country,” says Sparling.
The benefits of a smart city are manifold. “It attracts industry for one, but it also enables new ways to provide education for our children and allows flexibility for workers,” says Sparling. “That ongoing work with the city is what we see as really beneficial. It's been exciting to work on this project. We're seeing a lot of opportunity and look forward to helping create the next generation of cities.”
Sparling anticipates that next generation to be driven by sensors which can be repurposed for different applications. “It was a very siloed world before. Now what we're doing is really looking at leveraging data into an integrated operations command and control centre. Leveraging those open assets while of course remaining secure.” Automation is another area growing in importance. “With that complexity, we need to start to automate so we can react more quickly. We can take information from four or five devices and have the system make a decision or notify an operator as to what might be happening.”
Another key trend is the move to operational simplification. “One of the things we've done is make it simple enough that with very easy training, you can take a piece of equipment, plug it in, turn it on, bring it up and operate that network within 10 minutes. Something that previously took weeks is now a 10-minute exercise to have a 4G or 5G wireless network fully up and running.” Going forward, the uptake in smart city solutions is only set to accelerate. “It's an exciting time to be in the industry, and we've enjoyed working with the City of Hamilton to bring innovative technology that will serve to make the community a safer and more efficient place.”
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”