2011
09.16

Realtime communication means so many different things to different people. But to the folks at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), it means a gathering of industry and academia to “break down walls.”

I had a chance this week to speak one-on-one with Carol Davids, the director of the Real-Time Communications Lab at the Illinois Institute of Technology, about the concept of “realtime communication” and what it means in this new data-driven world. Davids, also an industry professor in IIT’s School of Applied Technology, is gearing up for the school’s seventh annual conference, which this year will go under a new header: Real-Time Communications Conference & Expo after years of being name the VoIP Conference & Expo. I say good call on the name change to this year’s conference, which is October 4-6 in Wheaton (just West of Chicago).

The new name for the conference obviously reflects the change in what “realtime communication” means into today’s data-driven world, extending beyond just voice communications. And given the roster of attendees that includes the likes of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, RIM, Comcast, and Google, just to name a few, the conversations are certain to go in many different directions, covering a wide swath of the connected landscape.

I applaud Davids’ enthusiasm around this topic and her drive to bring together the best lineup of companies possible. Sounds like Davids and the Connected World team are kindred spirits in this regard. She has designed and built the Lab and its Real-Time and Telecommunications curriculum, initiating different research projects in the lab related to the application and development of standards that describe and measure the performance, interoperability, and characteristic behaviors of VoIP and Real-Time Communications systems.

Our conversation went in the direction of how we as an industry can effectively break down these perceived walls that people believe exist between the different players in the space. She doesn’t believe these walls exist, but rather that we are all working in an exciting new space and that it becomes a blending together of all the major players in order to figure out how to work together most effectively. I couldn’t agree more; but how do we get everyone on the same page—now that is the million-dollar question.

So obviously my big question to Davids was regarding what people from the M2M and connected devices community should expect to experience at the Real-Time Communications Conference & Expo. As she described it, the event will feature some very frank and open conversations from the major players in the market about what is working and what isn’t working in relation to breaking down these perceived walls she mentioned earlier.

There are some natural synergies around what Davids and IIT are looking to accomplish with this conference and what we at Connected World are doing through our publication and our annual Connected World Conference in June. While tried and true M2M topics like smart grid or connected healthcare aren’t prominent on this year’s agenda for IIT, you cannot deny the underlying roles that the technology will need to play for topics that are on the agenda, like next-generation 911 and smart networks for smartphones, to name a few.

I will be moderating a mobility track on October 6 that covers such themes as IPv6 and LTE security that will feature commentary from companies like Juniper and Nokia-Siemens. I encourage the M2M and connected devices community to come out for what will certainly be some lively debates. It is great to see more conferences like this one from IIT, which follows the mission of what we at Connected World have set forth with our own conference. And perhaps eventually, we can all work together in order to break down these perceived walls around the concept of realtime communications in time.

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