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Catching Up With Technology

Aug. 22, 2022
The IT/OT convergence brings strength to the grid and these next-gen smartphones are perfect way for our tech savvy workforce to interface with all these advanced technologies have to offer.

Earlier this year, April 2022 T&D World (https://tdworld.com/21235426), I wrote about ruggedized technology in relation to all those devices we carry around with us daily. Our laptops, tablets, and smartphones took on a different role for us when we moved to remote working and the virtual office. Improved connectivity has made all this not only possible, but successful.  One of the key tech toys we all depend upon are our smartphones, but they’re fragile — extremely fragile. And once damaged they usually have to be replaced.

What got me back on the subject of smartphones was a phone call from my son. He called to tell me to go online and checkout the “Christmas in July” sale promotion one of our favorite retailers was taking part in. I know these July sales are a marketing ploy to get customers spending money during the summer sales doldrums, and I normally stay away from them. The device in question, however, was the latest technology available and all the reviews were very positive, so I went to the site.

Before I get a bunch of comments from sharp-eyed readers, keep in mind publishing schedules really mess with space-time continuum just like the JWST (James Webb space telescope). As I write this, it’s July. As you read this, it’s September, so you are looking back in time. By the way, I will be very glad when it’s September and the dog-days of summer with all its impacts to the power grid throughout the northern hemisphere are gone.

Easily Overlooked

Getting back to the smartphone topic, my current smartphone definitely fell into the legacy technology category. This was brought home by an announcement from my carrier. I was notified that a new anti-robocall app was available. When I tried to download it, I was told my device was too old for it. That wasn’t the first time I ran into a limitation brought about by my elderly digital device and it got me thinking, I can’t be the only one with an old smartphone – this would be timely.

I hate to admit it, but the smartphone I replaced was five years old. More importantly, it was over six generations from what’s considered cutting-edge technology. We rely on our smartphones and can’t afford to get this far behind the technology curve. What happened? Well, legacy thinking had caught my smartphone and it was so easy to do it.

As I moved into my next-gen device I started understanding how much this out-of-date technology impacted me. Maybe that’s why I have been having trouble with my Zoom app. If you aren’t aware of it, Zoom and other communication apps are available for iOS (Apple operating system) and Android devices. These apps and others are taking remoteness out of the remote workplace.

These next-gen devices are game-changers in many ways. One reviewer calls their OS an ecosystem evolution. They bring core computing to a new level. It has been enhanced and can cope with any type of data usage today’s innovative applications produce. In addition, 5G technology is providing increased bandwidth, faster speed, and improved latency. All of which are needed by today’s far-flung virtual team members.

Pocket Portals

I started this discussion talking about how fragile smartphones are, so let’s get back to that subject. The enhanced technical abilities are very crucial, but if the smartphones are still delicate we still have a problem. Luckily most high end smartphone models have addressed that issue.

My new smartphone has an IEC IP (Ingress Protection) a rating of IP68, which is about as good as it gets without getting into military standards. IP68 means it’s dust tight and it can be submerged in 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) of water for at least 30 minutes, but it’s not waterproof. We still have to be careful with our electronics and take advantage of sturdy protective cases and a quality screen protectors. Their importance is increasing as our need for connectivity grows.

These pocket portals are the gateway to many apps in use today, and a lot more are under development. The industrial internet of things (IIoT) has grown in influence on today’s power grid. That in turn has simplified the combining of IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) making the grid smarter. The IT/OT convergence brings strength to the grid and these next-gen smartphones are perfect way for our tech savvy workforce to interface with all these advanced technologies have to offer!

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