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Student Privacy

Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This past week I was alerted by our astute K12 member, Paul Barret of Smithfield, to a bill in the RI Senate (S 2171 titled “RELATING TO EDUCATION -- PROTECTING STUDENT PRIVACY ON SCHOOL-OWNED TECHNOLOGY”.  This bill was moving quickly through committee and Paul had alerted me that there was a hearing last Wednesday where public comment was to be heard.  I decided to research and go to the session.

What I found was a bill that raised a ton of questions both at a general policy and overall implementation level.  The ACLU, who testified in support, is making an overall case for student privacy and for parental opt out of take home technology programs.  These are the subjects of our times.  Make no mistake, their concern has merit  and should be discussed with great diligence.  My caution is not about the intent of bills like this, its about the necessity to have deep and thoughtful discussion with the right people on the right ways to handle the issue.

I have long been uneasy when legislation and technology meet.  Since I have found it difficult myself to keep up with the pace of technology change, I am dubious of legislation trying to do the same.  As I read this bill with my technical background filter, I see incongruous statements, lack of definition, conflicts with local and national policy and infeasible implementation requirements.  No one would argue that protecting a student’s privacy is first and foremost to any program where data is collected but the mere term “data” begs for definition in this regard.  An example of the bill’s language includes the right of a parent to demand the school unblock a website upon request.  While I would debate the policy in general, it is impossible to implement from a technical perspective as it would have to be unblocked for the whole school and would hamper the school’s ability to maintain cybersecurity practice.  There are many examples including restricting the school’s right to remote access even though it’s the schools property.

I also think the debate of the rights of parent’s to opt out is interesting.  I will state that take home tech programs need to ensure fairness and equitable access as table stakes but that being said, should opt out be allowed?  One would never think of opting out of take home books but now that they may be on a tablet, we can say no?

The intersection of privacy rights and technology are two speeding trains in the middle of a horrific crash.  It is a deep and fascinating subject, one which hits the center of our complex culture, politics, security, institutional practices and technological evolution.  In our opposition testimonies at the Senate this past week, we offered and were granted the ability to take a look at the current language and propose ways to come together on an agreement that properly balances the rights of the institution and the rights of the students in this most important arena.  Stay tuned or better yet, get involved! 

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Big Data and Supercomputing is Changing the World

Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I am on my way back from the Quilt winter meetings in beautiful La Jolla CA.  While it was hard to ignore the fact that it was 85 degrees all week while back home was feeling the brunt of snowstorms and record breaking frigid temps, I was far more impacted by our visit to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UCSD.  Calit2 is home to some of more compelling applications of high bandwidth research in the world.  Its network, Pacific Wave, is the research backbone enabled by our friends at CENIC and covers the west coast and the international Pacific Rim with a 100Gbps fiber infrastructure connecting many of the major research institutions in the region.  The platform presents an unprecedented research opportunity independent of location and, populated with supercomputing endpoints, enabling a profound new collaboration opportunity. 


Our CENIC hosts provided a program which covered three such examples.  The first was a visit to the “cave” a virtual reality experience at a level of quality I had never experienced.  The resolution was “above 8K” as I visited Florence and went on a tour of the Bapistery, much to the chagrin of my wife who has this on her bucket list.  Gone were the feelings of dizziness and nausea I had experienced with other VR environments.  This was truly a pleasure.


Next we were given an overview by cyber archeologist Tom Levy .  I had never heard of the term cyber archeology nor the term “cultural heritage engineering” but understood immediately the application.  The cyber archeologist uses a suite of digital tools and custom workflow programming involving high resolution laser scanning, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and multispectral imaging to capture and analyze massive amounts of data from historical sites.  They also utilize a fleet of drones and balloons to fly over and into spaces not easily accessible.  Cyber archeologists are racing to digitally archive the world’s most important historic treasures, many of which as we know from recent headlines from Palmyra, are threatened by destructive actions of militant forces.  The amount of data pouring from these sites is staggering.


Lastly and most impressive was a discussion by Dr. Larry Smarr, founder of Calit2 and resident guru.  Dr. Smarr is an astrophysicist turned data analytics scientist and enthusiast.  It was a timely event for him and us as the world awakened the next day to the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves, an area of specific work by Dr. Smarr over the last 20 years.  Larry’s talk however, was not about physics but about the emerging world of microbiomes.  Turns out he has been categorizing the behavior of the microbial environment in his own body for the last 15 years.  This massive data collection technique of his microbial ecology requires high resolution genome sequencing feeding Big Data parallel supercomputers led to the discovery of his having Crohn’s disease long before traditional medicine ever would have.  Since that discovery, he has tracked the progression of the disease and the effects of attempted pharmaceutical combat in a way that will ultimately be the way we look at the body and medicine in general in the future.  The link I provide here is a TEDtalk he gave in 2013 which gives you an overview of his work but know that he continues to make groundbreaking discoveries with this research as recent as the day before we met.  Larry believes that the evolution of the FitBit or like personal health devices in combination with non-invasive testing and web-based applications will transform the world’s health care practice from the reactionary sick care system it is today to a data-centric, preventative system tomorrow.

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IT at the Table

Posted By Greg Silva, Tuesday, January 12, 2016


The concept that IT should be a strategic element of most any organization these days has been the talk of the town in recent years. Granted, we mostly hear advocacy for that position coming from the IT camp but slowly the “business” side of the house is catching on and we are all developing ways to bridge the language barrier between technical professionals and executive, financial, or practitioner functions of a business. For example, we are seeing researchers at Universities and in Healthcare become much more involved with IT to solve new application and collaboration requirements. We see teachers working with IT to marry the pedagogy of a classroom with new and innovative technological teaching tools. The idea that IT as a service bureau that “just has to work” is now well recognized as short sited. Still, the methodology of truly communicating IT value to an institution is still a work in progress. It takes the reality of a researcher who needs a download of a petabyte size file from Chicago and can’t sacrifice an entire day for it to complete. Or the abundance of data analytics now emerging to show measurable improvement in healthcare outcomes when HIE records are online and accessible. I would expect that most people reading this have a sense for how far their individual organization has come with this particular evolution.


But never before has the requirement for IT to be present at the highest levels of institutional management, policy and strategy been as apparent as it now is with the emergence of cybersecurity threats. Just when we thought we were getting good at figuring out how to justify an expense for a disaster recovery architecture, along comes the world of Denial of Service attacks and data breach. I am always intrigued by topics like this that have so much depth. Cybersecurity tentacles reach every corner of an organization and touch on deep subjects such as privacy, freedom, authority and responsibility. One cannot address the techniques for prevention without addressing the policies that need to be created which govern use. Who decides the level of restriction placed on a doctor or professor balanced against their need for open collaboration? IT departments alone cannot and should not be dictating these policies. It is yet another and probably the most compelling reason today for IT to be at the strategic level of collaboration at the highest levels of our member institutions.

This week OSHEAN and Bryant University are hosting a Cybersecurity day which was sold out almost 2 months ahead of time. Over 200 professionals will spend the day hearing from experts in cyber policy, threat analysis, forensics and prevention and mitigation technologies. We are also releasing a special Cybersecurity edition of the eCurrent, our digital magazine at Again, this is a very deep subject and one we expect will become part of the fabric of the OSHEAN member collaboration for years to come.

Tags:  IT 

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Fortunate Son

Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Love the song from Creedence Clearwater Revival….


I attended a leadership conference this week and one of the sessions centered on the importance of storytelling.  The speaker asked us to turn to the person next to us and tell them our life story in sixty seconds.  As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible to do.  Next she asked us to think of a word that would serve as a focal point for that life story and I immediately gravitated to the word Fortunate.  It was immediately clear to me that it would have been much easier to tell my story quickly if I had centered on the word fortunate to begin with.  Stories are easier to tell and consume when centered on a theme.


I was fortunate to be born into the family I received with selfless parents who lived to see me prosper.  I was fortunate to live in a great era, to have strong friendships, a great school system and a nurturing neighborhood.  I have been fortunate to have good health and a reasonable intellect (so people tell me :) ).  I was fortunate to meet my wonderful wife Deb and together we are both fortunate to have raised three unique and outstanding children.


My professional career was ignited by a set of circumstances that one could only look back on and say, “fortunate”.   In 1983, straight out of college with no experience, I interviewed for a tech support job at a T-1 mux company.  Since the industry was brand new, nobody had experience, so my good fortune soon transitioned to my career.  In the ensuing thirty years, I have had the good fortune to work in great companies in the whirlwind of an exploding market, with great people, many of whom I consider friends now instead of colleagues.

3 years ago, I was most fortunate to have received the prospectus for the opening of the CEO position of OSHEAN and fortunate enough to be selected.  My ongoing fortune allows me to lead some of the best people I know in an organization with a meaningful purpose in an industry that continues to excite.  Tomorrow is my 3rd anniversary here at OSHEAN so I can now add that I am fortunate that the crew hasn't got sick of me yet!!

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CEO Sit-Down with Tim Wells Director of Telecommunications and Network Technology Brown University

Posted By Leticia T. O'Neill, Monday, August 31, 2015

Tim Wells OSHEAN Interview


Tim Wells, Director of Telecommunications and Network Technology Brown University explores the explosive growth in demands for network services, the convergence of network and service disciplines and the need to be incognito.



Watch here.

Tags:  Brown University  Network and Service Disciplines  Network Services 

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