Where are the Locks When You Enter the Digital World?

Like millions of other people, we have a routine in our house each night. We lock the doors, flip the outside lights and make sure the coffee maker is primed and ready for the next day.

But how do we secure ourselves in the digital world?

We are more digitally connected than ever before. According to Statista, there will be upwards of 30.9 billion connected internet of things (IoT) devices by 2025 used by, well, everyone. From smart watches to digital oilfields, medical sensors to tablets, the more technology in play, the more data is exchanged. Are we safe? Is our data protected? Who is making sure we are secure in the virtual world, one which is constantly changing and evolving?

Our life online calls for more than locking doors and turning on lights. Who is keeping businesses and people secure?

I found the answer in a real-life story involving a farm tractor, a million-dollar challenge and artificial intelligence (AI) scouring millions of data points all centered around plants.

Akamai (pronounced aa-kuh-mai) hosted the Future of Life Online Challenge where companies competed for a million dollars’ worth of Akamai security, content delivery and edge compute solutions. Entrants had to have an innovative, viable product or service in the market in need of scaling digital security, web performance, and/or digital delivery to achieve its full potential.

When I think of life online, the word “potential” is on point. How will we experience life online to our full potential if we are not fully protected and confident being there?

Will Technology Help Feed 9 Billion People?

The competition’s winner was Bloomfield Robotics founded by CEO and tech startup veteran Mark DeSantis. Bloomfield Robotics aims to improve food security, food quality, and use of arable land to improve crop yields across the globe — and even in space. Food security will be an evolving challenge in the years ahead as we reach 9 billion people by 2050. This is where real-time data on crop yields comes into play and why Bloomfield Robotics was, in the end, crowned the winner of Akamai’s million-dollar challenge.

Rather than guessing why a crop is performing at peak performance or being ill prepared for potential crises, farmers can attach portable custom cameras to any farm vehicle and capture images of individual plants.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these images, which mimic human vision, deliver on that promise. Once they are uploaded to the cloud, plant features are analyzed using deep learning algorithms. Farmers then know the health of the plants and can compare real-time data against expectations. The technology is made accessible by an affordable monthly fee for farmers. With these modern tools and technology, growers can assess their plants as well as make critical decisions to – and here’s that word again – ensure their crops reach their full potential.

In his pitch to Akamai’s judges, DeSantis shared that in the next 30 years we will have to produce more food than we have since the beginning of agriculture some 10,000 years ago until today. As you read this blog, about 811 million people will go to bed hungry tonight. After years of decline, that number has risen over the past year, according to the organization Action Against Hunger.

Akamai saw the potential to make a difference for many people and this, according to Kim Salem-Jackson, Akamai’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer weighed heavily in the judges’ decisions. From the outrageously fun Entertainment Tonight-style video announcing the winner, Salem-Jackson said, “Bloomfield Robotics has a smart and sophisticated solution to an issue that affects our planet, namely feeding the world and we believe your company will play a role in improving life online.”

Reimagining “Potential”

Life online is evolving and products like Akamai’s Intelligent Edge Platform brings proximity, scale, security, and innovation together. It’s already the largest and most trusted edge platform on the market today, protecting, and empowering billions of people around the world who shop online, play the latest video games, log into mobile banking apps, learn remotely, share videos and more.

Reimagining our potential in our daily life experiences and finding tech solutions that get us there is the true crossroad of #tech and #humanity. This is where I believe we grow and flourish. This is where we will reach our full potential, too, while staying secure and confident with as much ease as locking the doors and turning out the lights at the end of the day.