Information and Communication Technology

Information and Communication Technology & Computers – UPSC

Information and Communication Technology & Computers are important areas in science and technology syllabus for the UPSC exam. In this article, you can read about IT, Computers, and web-based terminologies and concepts in news.

Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data, or information, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. IT is considered to be a subset of information and communications technology (ICT).

Information and communication technology or (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit and manipulate information.

Development in Mobile Technology

  • Mobile technology has evolved gradually but at a faster pace.
  • It started with 1G technology and now has reached to 5G technologies in use and still evolving.
  • Its popularity over other electronic devices like laptops, notebooks, tablets, etc. is that it’s a complete package and combination of all features in one device.
  • Portability and internet connectivity simultaneously with voice communication are cutting edge features.

Networks (Service providers) – Networks have evolved from analog to digital, low bandwidth to high bandwidth, high network coverage, fewer noise disturbances, etc. Few network technologies are 3G, 4G LTE, and WCDMA.

Applications

  • Applications have evolved from low-featured OS to high-end OS features like Android, More User friendly and voice recognition features, gesture recognition, etc. are the newest features.
  • Apart from OS development, daily use applications like Online banking, mobile banking, Railway reservation, etc. have now at their fingertips.
  • Utility applications like Online FIR registration, online tracking of cases, etc. are new entrants.

‘BASH’ BUG

  • Bash is software that is used in the UNIX operating system.
  • It is used as a command prompt for executing commands.
  • Most of the MNCs and Govt. security systems use UNIX systems.
  • It’s a bug that can cause serious security issues.
  • The bug can bypass the security and give complete access to the attacker.
  • A user can lose its control over his computer system.
  • The data and information into the system would become vulnerable to theft and misuse.

‘HEART BLEED’ BUG

  • Heart bleed is a bug in Open SSL
  • Open SSL is a protocol used for cryptography.
  • This cryptography is used over the internet in communications like IM chats, emails, and data transfers.
  • The bug is actually an implementation failure, not a design issue.
  • It exposes the secret keys, certificates, IMs, and other confidential information that is into the system.
  • It can be visualized as a hole in the pipe through with information that can be bypassed to and fro.
  • But the system cannot be overtaken by the attacker. He just can steal the information.
  • It exposes serious security issues to those organizations who use this software.
  • It leads to the leak of private information.

QR CODES and its application

  • Codes are shortcuts to identify something.
  • Bar codes are very often used to identify any article’s properties.
  • These Bar codes can store information into it but that to have some limitations.
  • A dedicated device like an infrared reader is used to decode the bar codes.
  • There is a need for next-generation Code that can meet the demand of time
  • QR code means Quick Response Code
  • It can be said to be a next-level bar code with enhanced features.
  • QR Code is 2-dimensional codes, unlike bar code which is one dimensional.
  • It can store more information than Bar codes.
  • 30% error can be tolerated by QR code. Tampered QR codes can be easily read. It provides a robust coding technology.
  • QR codes can store diverse information like Web URLs, Pictures, Text information, numbers, etc.
  • There is no need for a dedicated device. Smartphone cameras other digital cameras are enough to scan these codes.
  • Simple and easily installable software is needed that translates the bar code into information coded into it.
  • It has wide applications from town planning to enterprise. It is being used in business marketing.
  • Monmouth in South Wales was converted into a ‘Wikipedia town’ by putting QR Code Markers at every point. A tourist just needs to scan the code to get information about the place.

Semantic Web

  • The web is an interconnection of multiple systems and networks.
  • Networks follow different protocols for data exchange.
  • Data formats and Web services follow different protocols.
  • In its real sense, the Web is very diverse in its operability due to the presence of unstructured components.
  • There is a need to have common and intelligent semantics on the web so that the exchange of information becomes easy, fast, and cost-efficient by removing diversity barriers.

The semantic web is a standard developed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3S). The goal of the Semantic Web is to make Internet data machine-readable.

  • The standard is meant to define data on the web.
  • It uses a common and universal language like XML to define the encountered data
  • It can also be said that it is an extension of Old W3 with the new W3 standard (Semantic web).
  • It seals the divide between data and information processing by introducing a rule of logic that can automatically draw a conclusion and produce the desired result.
  • More intelligence of data processing features is embedded into the Semantic web.
  • There are different companies which produce electronics goods with different standards.
  • The large volume of data can be exchanged without conversion overhead.
  • Data now will become a global element and remain accessible to each and every node with ease and convenience.
  • A web search would become more accurate by removing ambiguity.
  • E-business, e-commerce, e-governance, e-learning all will come on one platform.
  • It will speed up data sharing and information exchange.

Difference between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 

WEB 1.0WEB 2.0WEB 3.0
Mostly Read-OnlyWildly Read-WritePortable and Personal
Company FocusCommunity FocusIndividual Focus
Home PagesBlogs / WikisLive-streams / Waves
Owning ContentSharing ContentConsolidating Content
Web FormsWeb ApplicationsSmart Applications
DirectoriesTaggingUser Behaviour
Page ViewsCost Per ClickUser Engagement
Banner AdvertisingInteractive AdvertisingBehavioural Advertising
Britannica OnlineWikipediaThe Semantic Web
HTML/PortalsXML / RSSRDF / RDFS / OWL

3-D Holography

  • Holography refers to a technique that enables the creation of three-dimensional images.
  • For this, it uses a laser, diffraction, interference, light intensity recording etc.
  • It allows the viewer to feel that the object on screen is moving with respect to the change in position of the viewer thus appear 3 dimensional.
  • Recently Narendra Modi in his election campaign used 3-D Holography to its fullest for connecting to the Indian masses.

WI-FI Backscatter Technology

  • It is an emerging technology that uses radio frequency signals as the power source and reuses the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide internet connectivity.
  • Its successful advancement would set a platform for the Internet of Things and then connecting billions of devices to the internet would not be a challenge, as the present connection requires excessive battery backup.

DNA Supercomputer

  • A Supercomputer that is specialized in genome sequencing.
  • It helps in fast DNA sequencing
  • It keeps a record of DNA information which will help researchers to analyze how DNA variations manifest themselves in disease.
  • It will ensure a high-speed, low-cost sequencing system.
  • A number of biotech companies, research centers, and hospitals will be benefited and can show clinical breakthroughs.
  • Many diseases, like cancer that need extensive analysis of genome sequencing, can be researched more vigorously.

Supercomputer

A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance compared to a general-purpose
computer.
The performance of a supercomputer is measured in floating-point operations per second
(FLOPS)
instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).

  • The fastest supercomputer on the TOP500 supercomputer list is the Summit, in the United States, with a LINPACK benchmark score of 122.3 PFLOPS, exceeding the previous record-holder, Sunway TaihuLight, by around 29 PFLOPS.

CRYPTOGRAPHY

  • Internet communication could be secure or insecure depending upon the technique used for transmitting digital information over the network.
  • With the advancement of Information Technology, most of the information be it private information or public information is being transmitted with high speed and frequency. But is it secure? There have been frequent cases of data theft and information leaks.
  • Cryptography is an encoding technique of communication where the actual message is encrypted into an unreadable format using various algorithms. This text is called ciphertext.
  • It’s then sent over the network. Even if someone sniffs and intercepts the message, he won’t be able to interpret the exact meaning of the text.
  • The receiver receives the message and decrypts the information into plain text.
  • There is two broad technique of implementing cryptography: Symmetric key technique and Public key technique.
  • Cryptography implements the various aspects of information security like data confidentiality, data integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation.

Application

  • It’s now used in our day to day actions like Internet banking, ATM transaction, Online Shopping.
  • Our email communication is encrypted.
  • Personal Chats and messaging systems like WhatsApp, Facebook messaging are also encrypted.

WEBCAST

  • Webcast is a presentation technique where audio and video files are transmitted over the internet.
  • Webcast is synonymous with broadcast, but webcast is basically on internet communication in digital formant unlike analogue communication in the broadcast.
  • In webcast streaming, there is a source and there are many listeners and viewers.
  • With the of growth IT, webcast has now becoming popular as it can render remote services like e-learning, webinars, conferences, media, etc.
  • In the 2014 general elections, the Election commission used webcast technology to monitor the proceedings of sensitive polling booths in far-flung and disturbed areas.
  • The unauthorized movement can be noticed through the steaming. It was available to the general public on the ECI website.

ETHERNET

  • A local-area network (LAN) architecture developed by Xerox Corporation
  • Ethernet uses a bus or star topology and supports data transfer rates of 10 Mbps
  • Ethernet is an important technology that performs ‘switching’ of data traffic traversing through the networks.
  • With the increasing demand of high-performance data centers, cloud computing deployments and other heavy Internet services, there is an unprecedented need for robustness and scalability in the services offered by Ethernet technologies.

Digital Snooping

  • Digital snooping is like spying on personal information or data. It is a technique of monitoring private and public networks for passwords and data. The interception of data is done at the network layer and can bypass security protocols easily.
  • The attacker use software programs to read the data passed over the network. It searches for the password fields and intercepts them.
  • If the password is encrypted, it uses various algorithms and brute force techniques to decrypt them.
  • Once the password is obtained, the attacker can obtain computer access to steel and manipulate data stored into it.
  • Recent news of snooping by the USA on various govt. organizations and personalities have exposed the evil of snooping and called for a debate on internet governance.
  • India’s National Snooping program- Central Monitoring System-recently launched.

AMOLED Display

  • AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) is a display technology for use in mobile devices and televisions.
  • OLED describes a specific type of thin-film-display technology in which organic compounds form the electroluminescent material, and an active matrix refers to the technology behind the addressing of pixels.
  • AMOLED technology is used in mobile phones, media players, and digital cameras, and continues to make progress toward low-power, low-cost and large-size (for example, 40-inch) applications.
  • An AMOLED display is a hybrid technology that consists of an active matrix of OLED pixels that generate light (luminescence) upon electrical activation that have been deposited or integrated onto a thin-film-transistor (TFT) array, which functions as a series of switches to control the current flowing to each individual pixel.
  • The greatest advantage of AMOLED display is fast pixel switching response time that makes the display fit and efficient for animation.
  • Typically, this continuous current flow is controlled by at least two TFTs at each pixel (to trigger the luminescence), with one TFT to start and stop the charging of a storage capacitor and the second to provide a voltage source at the level needed to create a constant current to the pixel, thereby eliminating the need for the very high currents required for passive-matrix OLED operation.

IPTV

  • IPTV (Internet Protocol television) is a new generation TV that communicates over Internet protocol in the form of packets rather than signals in normal TVs.
  • It has 3 components: IPTV where content is encoded and decoded; Delivery Network over which information in the form of packets is transmitted; Setup Box which is communication link between operator’s broadband modem and customer’s TV. Also, packets delivered are reassembled here.
  • IPTV enables two-way interactivity, in contrast to traditional one-way cable or satellite broadcast network. The two-way IPTV network means viewers have more options to personalize interact and control their viewing experience.
  • Because IPTV is based on internet protocol, it is sensitive to packet loss and delays if the IPTV connection is not fast enough.

VIRTUAL Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.

An artificial environment created with computer hardware and software and presented to the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment.

To create this effect, the user needs Hardware devices like goggles, gloves, and earphones, etc inbuilt with sensors.

It enables people to deal with information more easily. VR provides a different way to see and experience information, one that is dynamic and immediate.

Applications:

  • Health care: Virtual reality exposure therapy (3-dimensional computer simulation) in combination with physiological monitoring and feedback to treat panic and anxiety disorders.
  • Education is another area that has adopted virtual reality for teaching and learning situations. The advantage of this is that it enables large groups of students to interact with each other as well as within a three-dimensional environment.
  • Tourism is another industry to the use of virtual reality i.e in museums and historical places. These settings employ interaction as a means of communicating information to the general public in new and exciting ways.
  • Other sets of applications are Business, engineering, sports, Media, military and scientific visualization.

Internet of things (IOT)

  • Internet is a network of networks. Each network is connected to thousands of devices.
  • IoT is an internet concept where each and every device or object is identified uniquely. Unique id assigned acts as the source of communication.
  • These objects can be Smartphone, Laptops, house switching system, temperature adjustment systems, and health care devices
  • All these devices communicate with each other as and when required.
  • These devices have built-in features like sensors, Wi-Fi connections, and underlining internet connections and can communicate with each other even without human intervention.
  • This concept makes life and business easy as we can command and get a response from anywhere.
  • In production, different production lines at different locations can be commanded and can communicate with each other from a far distance.
  • In hospitality, the ambiance of hotels can be adjusted from distance location as per the guest’s request. Example -temperature adjustment, light adjustment, etc.
  • Businesses can flourish by making different devices like smartphones and dedicated devices interact with each other for fast decision making and delivery of services.
  • In India, CISCO is setting up an IoT hub in Bangalore. This will help in the development of smart cities, smart street lighting, smart safety and security system, smart traffic management in the city.

NET NEUTRALITY

  • Internet is altogether a new and open world.
  • It’s open to everyone from the individual to the business.
  • It’s accessible to nearly everyone at an affordable price and speed.
  • The strength of the internet is its openness.
  • This free area is the ground for innovation and competition.
  • Ideas and technology exchange with fast speed boosts investment.
  • Knowledge sharing and Learning become global and inclusive.
  • Net neutrality means that users get unrestricted access to Internet traffic without any discrimination.
  • In its real sense net neutrality is “Freedom of Speech and Expression without partiality”.
  • In the recent past, there have been violations of net Neutrality by certain governments and companies.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted the Open Internet Order in 2010 in order to prevent large telecommunications firms from stifling competition and innovation online.
  • The FCC in its Order stated that the net neutrality rules were intended to “preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission.”
  • Few countries like chili have enacted laws to protect net neutrality law.
  • In India, there is no net neutrality law and it is not regulated by the government. India is yet to come up with a transparent and impartial law.

Internet Fast Lanes and Controversy

  • Internet Fast lanes are the concept of providing fast and dedicated internet speed to privileged customers.
  • These customers are ready to pay more than general rates.
  • Service providers intend to provide prioritized services to these customers.
  • This concept encounters the law of net neutrality.
  • Here it’s a violation of internet democracy as it doesn’t put every netizen on equal footing.
  • If it’s implemented, it will hamper the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and hence innovation.

E-SWECHA OS

  • E-Swecha is a free software development programme to cater to the needs of engineering students.
  • In realization of the free software movement in India, it will develop the Operating System (OS).
  • The participants of this project are students itself of different engineering colleges, teaching staff, and a team of academicians.
  • The development is based on the UNIX operating system. UNIX operating system is an open-source platform where features can be modified, customized, and added to enhance the functionality.
  • The stakeholders would participate in its development work in groups and teams to collaborate and implement the project.
  • The development of free software will be opening up new doors of learning and employment generation in India.

SPECIFIC ABSORPTION RATE (SAR)

  • It’s a standard for safe exposure to radiofrequency.
  • SAR measured as the amount of radiofrequency or electromagnetic frequency absorbed per unit mass of tissue or human body. It’s measured in units of Watt per kilogram.
  • It has gained importance because of the high exposure of human beings to Mobile radiofrequency.
  • It is assumed that exposure of human tissue to high frequency can cause mutation and gene transformation. Hence to meet the health standard FCC has come up with a standard that is tolerable by the human body.
  • FCC limit for public exposure from cellular telephones is a SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg).
  • India, Department of Telecommunication has come up with SAR regulation to check electromagnetic radiation to address health concerns and regulate the Mobile manufacturing industry.

PROJECT LOON

  • The Internet has the power to transform society and bring everyone on equal footing.
  • Project Loon is an internet project to provide internet access to all over the globe, Started by Google.
  • In this set up a network atmosphere of balloons will be created into our space which will communicate with each other and also devices on the ground.
  • The place would be the stratosphere and these balloons will float steadily and will be a move by stratosphere wind.
  • A special Antenna on the ground would be required to connect with these balloons for data exchange.

The benefits on Google Loon would be:

  • It would be easy to use, no need to set up wired networks, and other complexity would be eliminated.
  • High-speed internet all over the globe without a glitch.
  • It will increase internet penetration and subscriber base.
  • The biggest advantage would be its an extension to those areas where internet expansion is either complex or not possible. Like forests, deserts, mountains, hilly areas, etc.
  • Also, the remote areas will get affordable internet communication which they are deprived of now.
  • Hence it will bridge the gap of intent distribution and provide equal accessibility to all.

NEAR FIELD Communication (NFC)

  • It’s a new standard of wireless communication.
  • It enables users to transmit radio frequency waves over a very short distance just about few centimeters.
  • Since it’s a very short-range communication, power consumption is very negligible or no power consumption.
  • It can transfer the low amount of data between devices enabled with NFC
  • No need of pairing the devices, it’s ready to use at just a click or swipe.
  • Its application is based on short and less voluminous data transfer like contactless payment terminals, paying for vending machines, paying bus pass fees, purchasing bus tickets as well concert tickets.
  • Its application is varied but it needs to be secure. Security concerns like Eavesdropping can hamper the communication and leak of private information.

Digital addressable System (DAS)

  • A Digital addressable system is a group of hardware devices and related software systems for digitization and broadcasting of cable television.
  • It is an integrated system through which signals of a cable television network can be sent in encrypted form, which can be decoded by the device or devices at the subscriber’s end.
  • It can be achieved through the Conditional Access System at the subscriber end within the limits of authorization made, through the Conditional Access System, and the subscriber management system by cable operators.
  • It will provide good quality signal and least distortion in broadcasting and will revolutionize media, entertainment, education, and health even in rural areas.

Google Glass

  • Google Glass developed by Google Inc. is a physical device resembling spectacles mounted with a touchpad, camera, and display. It too has a built-in memory, sensors, and connectivity features like wi-fi and Bluetooth.
  • Google Glass offers many functionalities including mapping, recording photos and videos with the ability to stream live video of what you are looking at, internet searching, and language translation performed through natural language voice commands
  • It has a wide range of applications like Healthcare, Mass media, and Journalism.

TELEMEDICINE

  • The Interaction between patient and doctor without physically facing each other through a medium of communication.
  • The medium of communication is usually IT and telecommunication networks.
  • Health care facilities like consultation, diagnosis, status report, report analysis, etc can be provided through it.

Why important?

  • Remote area connectivity for medical facilities.
  • The urgency of consultation like eye treatment etc
  • Treatment and consultation of contagious disease like Ebola etc
  • In India, Panchayat’s Primary Health Centers (PHCs) can be connected through telemedicine facilities.
  • Cost-benefit for patients
  • Speedy diagnosis and treatment facility.
  • Can provide health care to neglected sections of society like the elderly, children, and women.

Issue

  • There is a need for security and privacy. Private information need not be made public.
  • Electronic versions of sensitive documents such as X-rays or doctors’ notes must be as secure as paper ones.

Ambient Intelligence

  • Ambient intelligence (AmI) is a setup of electronic devices that observes records, analyzes, and responds to the human environment.
  • They have the ability to model user behaviour, activity prediction and recognition, decision making, and control.
  • The objective of AmI is to broaden the interaction between human beings and digital information technology through the use of ubiquitous computing devices.
  • AmI comprises of three main components: ubiquitous computing, ubiquitous communication, and user-adaptive interfaces.
  • It has a wide range of applications like Smart homes that smartly interact with residents; Health-related Applications where patients’ activity can be monitored, analyzed and quick and automatic decisions can be taken; Public transportation Systems where traffic can be managed efficiently.
  • It poses security issues and Privacy challenges.

FERROELECTRIC LIQUID CRYSTAL (FLCD)

  • FLCD is a new generation display device like LCD which contains Ferro dielectric liquid crystal.
  • When electricity is passed through it, the liquid becomes strongly magnetized and emit energy.

Advantages

  • FLCD have a very fast switching time (faster than an LCD).
  • It has very low dot pitch which results in a high resolution (better than LCD).
  • Greater viewing angle.
  • Better picture and thinner interface.
  • Cheaper to run on electricity.

‘CODE FREE FOR INDIA’

  • This initiative is started by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS).
  • The initiative invites the free software development community to develop solutions to address local and global needs.
  • Programmers would be invited to develop tools and desktop applications, internet applications, mobile applications, and enhance the cloud and internet of things technology.
  • It will also encourage the use of local language computing tools and contemporary free software technology while keeping in mind bandwidth and device limitations.

GIS- GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM

  • GIS is a computerized data management system that captures images to transform it into maps of useful information.
  • The capture images are store, manage, retrieve, analyze, and utilized to display spatial information.
  • The biggest advantage of a GIS-based system of mapping is many types of information are overlapped and represented on a single map.
  • This helps in analyzing the map in the most efficient and accurate way.
  • It is now heavily being used by government and private agencies for geographical surveying.
  • In recent years govt. has utilized the Web-GIS tool to estimate the rooftop solar power potential for Indian cities.
  • It is also being used by the Environment Ministry to fast-track decision-making with respect to effective forest management, environment protection, and biodiversity conservation.
  • City planning is being done using web-based GIS.
  • GIS can prove to be a next-generation tool for transforming society through better surveying and planning.

HAWK EYE

  • Hawk-Eye is a complex computer system used officially in numerous sports such as cricket, tennis, Gaelic football, hurling, and association football, to visually track the trajectory of the ball and display a record of its statistically most likely path as a moving image.
  • Hawk-Eye was developed in the United Kingdom by Dr. Paul Hawkins.
  • The system was originally implemented in 2001 for television purposes in cricket.
  • The system works via six (sometimes seven) high-performance cameras, normally positioned on the underside of the stadium roof, which track the ball from different angles.
  • The video from the six cameras is then triangulated and combined to create a three-dimensional representation of the trajectory of the ball.
  • Hawk-Eye is not infallible and is accurate to within 5 millimeters (0.19 inch) but is generally trusted as an impartial second opinion in sports.

Neurobridge technology

Neurobridge technology uses a specialized sleeve on the forearm to communicate with a chip implanted in Patient`s brain. The chip processes a patient`s thoughts, then bypasses the spinal cord, sending signals directly to the sleeve to produce movement. Within a tenth of a second, the Patient’s thoughts are translated into action.

Spintronics

  • Spintronics also known as spinelectronics or fluxtronic, is an emerging technology exploiting both the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices.
  • Spintronics differs from the older magneto-electronics, in that the spins are not only manipulated by magnetic fields, but also by electrical fields.

RoboEarth

  • RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: An open-source database that allows robots to share knowledge, and a cloud computing platform that gives robots access to powerful robotic cloud services
  • Its components are RoboEarth databases, RoboEarth Cloud Engine (Rapyuta).
  • The RoboEarth Cloud Engine is an open-source Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) framework designed specifically for robotics applications. It helps robots to offload heavy computation by providing secure customizable computing environments in the cloud.
  • RoboEarth DB is a database which allows you to participate in a community of users who share data about environments, actions, and object.

E-EYE

  • E-Eye is a pilot project started by the government of India for e-surveillance
  • E-surveillance is achieved by providing a set of cameras that are installed in an area especially National parks which can monitor and record the movement around it at 360 degrees. These cameras are fitted with night vision features. The system can raise alarms as to when required.
  • In India, The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has approved the installation of these cameras in Corbet National Park.

Purpose and Benefits

  • Tracking animal movement
  • Checking human trespassing
  • Control and avoidance of animal poaching.
  • Habitat destruction, cutting of trees, grazing can be tracked
  • It will help in better planning and coordination of authorities.
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