Saturday 16 June 2018

Guest Post - IoT - Brigitte Lewis

By Guest Writer - Brigitte Lewis

From space, to transport, to the design of cities, IoT is the latest acronym to sweep the cyber landscape.

IoT is short for Internet of Things and was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999.  IoT is any device, be it your phone, laptop or Raspberry Pi that is connected to the internet. And so these devices come to be known as 'things', especially as more things like light globes, fridges, watches, TVs and vending machines are internet enabled. 
image source unknown

Depending on your position, this is either great for business or terrible for the human proclivity towards laziness because who wouldn't want to turn their lights off from the comfort of bed right?
Business and government are particularly keen on the Internet of Things and what it can potentially do in terms of increased productivity, efficiency and citizen engagement. But the take home from many of the sessions at Melbourne's recent IoT Festival was that many people have no idea what IoT is or how it can impact them in positive ways.

Traffic lights that are IoT enabled can send data back to traffic controllers (both real life and digital) who can then increase or decrease stopping signals depending on traffic flow and therefore make our roads less congested and more efficient. Goodbye bumper to bumper (I can dream).
image owner unknown

A water company in South Korea was fitted out with IoT devices by local Mount Waverly team Freestyle Technology. What this meant from a social good perspective is that when their devices that were fitted to local houses detected zero water usage, a social worker was then called out to check whether the resident was in distress. This is in addition to the usual ways you could imagine IoT and smart water working. These range from detecting leaks with much greater speed, creating alerts if there are failures along the pipeline, tracking worker locations to minimising down time because the whole system is delivered in real-time and able to visualised and understood remotely.

Japanese smoking rooms are also a great example of IoT enabled things. The devices in these rooms can detect how many people are in the room and increase or decrease the ventilation required which resulted in a 30% increase in energy savings for companies who use them.

Gelato companies have partnered with uber so their clients can literally track how far away their sugar hit is. Farmers have taken up the call with water monitors that are IoT enabled. These devices send famers a message if their livestock's water is low and save them from dehydration and potential loss of income from sick animals. Coca-cola envision a day in the not too distant future where drones drop off coke via your GPS location so you could be sipping coke while you wait for your pizza delivery in the park on a Sunday arvo, which is already has IoT written all over it.

In Queensland the government developed an open data policy and provided an app called Breathe Easy which measures air pollution & water quality so residents can decide where they'd like to live based on environmental concerns.

The word on the street is that people are hungry for tech and IoT enables devices are the latest way to get satiated. But with all the data being collected already and an estimated 75 billion devices predicted to be online by 2020, the kinds of data being collected is also crucial so we don't end up with systems and languages and devices that don't talk back to one another.

Standardisation is key when thinking about where to from here as are guidelines around the security of IoT devices from the code used to create the interface to the person or people on the other end. Many of the security issues that we already face with devices such as our laptops and phones are exactly the same. From insecure code, users with insecure passwords and people all along the supply-chain without sufficient knowledge of what it is to be secure and what it all means on a day-to-day way when you engage in risky behaviour. The answer as always is education.

Another key take home from the conference, is how important the ability to tell stories is. Being able to communicate how and why the IoT can be useful to businesses and communities is the first step in bringing audiences outside of already informed IT spaces on board. And it's the sounding board for great innovation and diversity when it comes to new ways to address societal and business related issues. STEAM or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths majors will come into their own in this space and are why there are ever louder calls for people with communications skills to enter the IT industry.

There are no current accepted standards when it comes to the IoT. What there is, however, are Australian guidelines which outline the importance of embedding security in IoT devices and therefore code from the ground up, rather than as an afterthought which is often the case. Data security is also crucial, especially with the recent global attacks and the proliferation of highly sensitive data connected to IoT devices like health records. Additionally, monitoring of devices is important to enable vulnerabilities are identified before they become a beacon for hackers and of course, ongoing compliance and risk assessment as landscapes, software, users and hacks change and evolve, often on a daily basis.

IoT is here and chances are, you're already a node in the network.


Brigitte attended the IoT Festival on behalf of the organisers. She's a writer and sociologist turned cyber security researcher with a fervour for exploring the ways the digital can create social change. You can read her latest article on the rise of feminist lead hashtags on Twitter here.  

(c) AWSN 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Guest Post - Getting more women on-the-podium - Catherine McGrath

By Guest Writer - Catherine McGrath

Getting more women on-the-podium at conferences & events Catherine McGrath founder of #WomenSpeaking workshops
$200 discount per full price ticket for AWSN members email Catherine for the code or direct payment.

Seeing women at the forefront of public discourse is essential to gender equity. For AWSN members I pose these questions: 
are you seeing women at the front of your industry? 
  • Are they visible? 
  • Are senior women leading national debates, speaking at conferences, being quoted in newspapers and are they CEOs and senior managers?
The answer is suspect is ‘yes but not enough’. 

In this, the cybersecurity sector is like many others. Change is happening, but it is patchy and not everyone has the voice or the opportunity to speak.

Many women feel disempowered as they try to advance their careers without enough professional support.

I know how you feel. I have recently moved from a 30-year career as a leading broadcaster in television and radio (as a foreign correspondent and political reporter for ABC & SBS). I have had to build my own confidence as a speaker through hard work, training and practical experience. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.

Now beyond journalism my work is as a keynote speaker/MC and communications trainer. I had to teach myself to feel confident in front of a live conference audience. This is different to a TV audience that you can’t see. A thousand sets of eyes on you at an event can be confronting.

My callout is to ask you to push your organisations & businesses to support you in speaker training. It is essential to building your professional skill base.

At a recent business event I hosted, questions from the floor included no questions from women. At some business events, this is not unusual. The male attendees were quick to raise their hand, one even jumped to his feet before the microphone reached him.
Other women tell me there is a simple reason for this. Many don’t feel supported enough in these environments many others don’t feel they have the skill set required. Some events seem like a male-only club.

Hats off to those women who have no trouble speaking and asking questions at conferences. You are our role models. We need more of you.

Women: our time is here but still there are too few of us speaking at conferences, events and workplace meetings. Too few of us are visible as leaders. That means our contribution as professional women isn’t being equally recognised.

Training in this area is crucial. Many of us don’t feel confident enough to speak or present in front of others. Speaking is a professional skill, as important as knowing some accounting, some law, some occupational health and safety rules etc.

If you are terrified or reluctant? You are not alone. The good news is that help is here! With help and training, you can develop the confidence to say yes to that next offer to present at a conference or event.

We, as women, have great abilities and knowledge and we should share that.

At professional panels, many of us would love to see more women up there. We would love to join in ourselves.

We need to grow the skill base for professional women so that more of us feel ready and able to take to the podium.
No professional women who is a nervous speaker would want to put their hand up to speak in front of other professionals unless they feel prepared and ready.

I have launched training for this specific purpose. I believe women need more support. We need an opportunity to practice and train in a safe environment, in a setting away from the judgement and expectations of others. We need time to learn.

WomenSpeaking workshops in Sydney and Canberra provide a cost-effective one-day training where groups of professional women can learn and develop the skills they need.
Ask your organisations to send you.

Women from many different sectors come along. We have had a lot of attendees from STEM professions.

In workshops we break up into small groups where you get individual attention from experts including myself, an actor/voice coach, a TV/stage presence specialist and a writer/editor. 

Attendees get strategic and practical support in speech writing and presentation skills. There is specialist voice training and on-the-podium practice with a microphone. How does it feel to stand on a stage say your name and look out at an audience? It can be scary but practice in a real or simulated environment is the way to reduce the fear.

This is what our attendees say ‘‘I walked out a different person equipped with knowledge, skills, confidence & a tool-kit to keep me going on my journey.’

‘I only wish I’d done this 10 years ago so that I could have realised the value and satisfaction in communicating my voice.’

‘WomenSpeaking is more than training. It is a supportive network that empowers you to step into your own skin and be confident. Highly recommend.’


$200 discount per full price ticket for AWSN members email above for code or direct payment.

More on women speakers please see the guest post by Lidia GiulianoWhere are all the women 

If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog please read the submission guidelines here >> AWSNblog-guest_post_guidelines <<

(c) AWSN 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Monday 11 June 2018

Guest Post - Productivity Series - Aparna Burke


While most clever blogs and articles offer insights to help you live your best life, my blog on productivity is what some might call an epic fail. No tips or tricks to be found here; what I do offer however is a story that made me think twice about what I do, and remind myself why I do it.

“Thanks for abandoning me”.

He wasn’t abandoned in the true sense of the word, not in the melodramatic I-left-to-get-a-litre-of-milk-and-never-came-back-kind-of-way.

But, in his 9-year-old mind, it made sense to use that word, in that situation, the day I forgot to organise a different option for school pick as the MIL couldn’t make it.

In a thirty second window between meetings, I had fixed it and he was swiftly collected.

Needless to say, I felt like crap. And then, with the deft precision that only small children have, he made me feel worse, quietly saying on the phone, I don’t want to talk about it now, I want to talk about it face to face. 


By the time we were face to face he had forgotten about it. But I hadn’t. 

Why did I forget, why didn’t I write it down, why didn’t I organise myself the day I found out MIL couldn’t do it? Are my productivity tools not working?!

I consider myself to be a pretty organised person, but while performing the juggling game of life, with one leg in the air and the other balancing on a stilt, I sometimes drop the ball. 

My brain has reached the point of saturation, so I write things down. I use various electronic tools to track my work/meetings etc, but, I love writing (and shiny pens with pineapple tips) so I have a work diary and use wall calendars and journals and lists. Who doesn’t love a good list?

And then, I want to do all the things. I ‘aint turning down nothing but my collar…

 N.B I don’t really do all of the things, I hate laundry and gardening never makes it onto my good lists.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love my job and my fur baby is the best. I know the difference between busy and productive. I know what my priorities are. I don’t feel like I need balance, I need time. 

Now that I’m older, I am trying so hard to avoid falling victim to the myth of immortality, squeezing every last drop of life out of my allocated daily minutes, I fear I am undoing all my industrious efforts to fit it all in.

I’m consciously stopping for the roses but do I always smell them before I move to the next thing on my list?

Am I so focussed on doing all the things that I forget to reflect on some of the things?

Working in corrections I often came across the criminal offence “loitering with intent”. It is the difference between hanging around and hanging around with a purpose.

This made me think, maybe I’m already productive enough. Maybe the key to my best life is to learn how to loiter with intent (and without getting arrested). 

Aparna Burke
Communications Advisor, RSM

Having worked over 18 years in corrective services, running treatment programs, working on policy and managing strategic communications, I am now happily employed with RSM Australia. I work in Perth’s Tax Services Division as a Communications Advisor. 

(c) AWSN 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Guest Post - Write to be Read - by Kristine Sihto

This is a guest post by one of our regular contributors, Kristine Sihto

We are writers, all of us, in this age. Every text, every tweet, every email creates a documentary trail of our existence. We are each an author of an autobiography that extends over multiple platforms and locations, in our personal and our professional lives, whether we intend that creation or not. Writing is ubiquitous in our lives.

But just because a thing is written, that doesn’t mean ‘written well’. 

Bad writing fails to communicate efficiently and can lead to misunderstandings, lost time, frustration, and can impact the way people view your professionalism and ability.

The key to good writing is clarity. 

This extends across the entirety of writing, from choosing the correct homophone or punctuation, through to writing for the intended audience; every writing ‘error’ comes down to a failure to communicate efficiently. The page strips out the contextual information you would normally see in face-to-face communication, such as pitch and tone, facial expression, and body language. For this reason, clarity in writing needs to be far more accurate and comprehensive than a conversation would be.

Clarity tips:

  • Write for your target audience. This is especially important if you’re conveying highly technical information.
          Even if you’re writing for an informed audience, assume that you know a lot more than they do, and explain your working.
          Where instructing or explaining a process, use ‘show and tell’ formats (such as screenshots or step-by-step photographs) if you can. These can be easier to follow than purely text-based instructions.
          If your audience isn’t technical, but your content is, remember that. Write in a way that avoids unnecessary details and explains concepts that may be unfamiliar. If you can write in such a way as to be understood by a teenager, you’ve hit the right balance.

  • Limit the number of words in a sentence. If you’ve got 50 words in your sentence and you don’t have any punctuation inside it, it will be hellish for the reader to try to comprehend. A long sentence can usually be broken up into two or more sentences with a little restructuring, and your readers will have a more pleasant experience.
  • It should never be assumed that the reader has the same level of knowledge as you, or that they have the same lexicon. If you need to use jargon, provide glossaries. If you need to use acronyms or initialisations, write them out fully the first time.
  • Use a spell checker program. However, you shouldn’t rely entirely on your spell checker, especially if you know you have bad spelling. Read each of the options the spell check offers you before accepting the default option, because computers are often wrong.
  • Use a text-to-speech screen-reader to play your writing back to you. Listening to your text can highlight words that have been used incorrectly, or grammatical issues like sentence fragments or run-on sentences.
  • Get another human to read your writing, preferably someone who is pedantic about small errors. You should, however, make sure it’s someone who is more invested in the outcome of your writing than they are in their relationship with you. Close friends and family members may wish to save your feelings, and may be overly optimistic about the quality of your work. It’s also important that you are gracious about accepting critique; bad responses to honest critique can destroy the credibility of future critique, as your proofreader may decide to lie in order to keep the peace.
  • In all instances, write as simply as you can, using plain English. This includes when writing to C-suite executives. Executive levels of management have to read all day, and they’re just as human as you or I am. Making a document easy to understand is key to getting the words read and understood. This isn’t Scrabble; there is no scoreboard, and big words don’t earn you more points.
Source of image unknown
These are not examples I have picked from the blue. Throughout the years I have been editing, the consistent issues I come across time and again are:

  1. Assuming the reader has the foundation knowledge to understand you (lack of glossaries, using unexplained acronyms or initialisations, writing for the wrong target audience).
  2. Not allowing enough opportunity for the reader to pause and comprehend meaning (run-on sentences, lack of punctuation).
  3. Using sentence fragments (either through forgetting to finish a thought, or through a misunderstanding of grammar).
  4. Over-reliance on spell checkers (incorrect/inappropriate wording) or lack of spell checking (spelling errors throughout a document).
  5. Trying to impress (executing overtly loquacious confabulation with an aspiration to appear astute and resourceful).

If you can avoid these five things, your writing can appear more polished and professional.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog please read the submission guidelines here >> AWSNblog-guest_post_guidelines <<

(c) AWSN 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Friday 1 June 2018

Highlights - April and May 2018 - AWSN blog

In case you missed these, posts for April and May 2018 are:

(c) AWSN 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.