Stories by Fred Hapgood

Safety and security: The intersection

In 1999, the Massachusetts state fire marshal issued a cautionary advisory about a new security product: a surveillance camera designed to look like a smoke detector. "This action has created a great concern for us in the fire service," Stephen Coan said. "If this [security cameras as smoke detectors] becomes widely known, we feel that the lives of people will be placed in jeopardy. Out of fear of being watched and the loss of privacy, it is possible that people will begin to cover over smoke detectors, endangering their lives...." Marshal Coan was not alone in his concern: In 2004, New York officials forced local outlets to stop selling the device for many of the same reasons.

Revisit Data Storage Goes Critical

Eight years ago it was already obvious (at least to us) that at some point CIOs were going to morph into CSOs--corporate storage officers. Every year the data river flooded higher and ran faster, with every byte requiring storage methods that were secure, shareable, scalable and monitorable, and could deal nimbly with an ever-wider range of user classes and network types. Sooner or later storage issues had to overwhelm the IS agenda. You can get along with last year's processor, but relying on last year's storage could put a company out of business.

Innovation and Products in the Vanguard

If society is growing more impersonal, at least there is the consolation that computer networks seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Over the past five years, networking environments--the Web being a prime example--have been falling over themselves to mirror the interests and character of their users as closely as possible. If a site proves personable it becomes sticky--meaning users keep coming back--or so the theory goes. And new tools that offer everything from storage areas for correspondence to online collaboration with other visitors hope to make sites more attractive than ever.