85th Annual AHIMA Convention Exhibit, October 26-30, 2013.

The AHIMA Convention & Exchibit is an annual conference about healthcare management. More than four thousand experts participated in the conference this year. In case you are interested in the field, you shouldn’t miss it next time.

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Knowledge is power: Industrial espionage, data protection and the quest for meaning

There are people who suffer from a specific condition of the mind called hyperthymesia. It is a neurological condition where one cannot forget anything that has ever taken place in his life. The effect of such a condition is destructive because knowledge is based on forgetting.

Without this ability, we wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything since everything would be always present. Meaning comes through the choice of what needs to be remembered and what can and should be forgotten. Like when you bring in your mind the image of a forest, first, we need to forget about the details of all those single trees.

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If this is the condition of the human mind, what does this mean in a world based on data collection and management? Or, to pose the question in a different manner, if in order to create knowledge the human mind needs to forget, what data does an organization or a business needs to put aside? Should there be an expiration date, where after it passes, certain data collected loses meaning and has to be deleted or should we hold on to all data forever? Would this be meaningful? What needs to be protected?

The right management of data is power. The choices organizations make on what to keep and what to “forget” makes them more or less effective. What remains is all that gives meaning to their existence; valuable pieces of data which when combined produce knowledge.

Knowledge is Power. People know it, companies know it, nation states know it. In this context, certain data need to be protected just like certain data can be forgotten. It makes sense.

In a recent article from Der Spiegel, after the recent NSA scandal and the revelations of large scale data mining by the USA, the author claims that data protection and security has become an issue of even greater importance.

As noted in the article, executives in many companies in Germany have become increasingly nervous and have taken extreme defensive measures. Specific documents that were sent by email are now delivered in paper to the recipient. The only data that are still sent via email are those that have no real value and the company would have no issue posting publicly.

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It has become common knowledge among companies that they have to protect themselves from the eyes of competitors. Spies are everywhere.

They might be working for an intelligence agency or an industrial giant. They might be plain amateurs. What is clear though is that there is a secret war taking place in the web. Just like in real wars, there are armies of mercenaries waiting for the highest bidder to buy their services. Knowledge is power.

In Germany, the number of attacks every day is in the hundreds of thousands. The United Kingdom reports 120.000 attacks every day. Only in the state of Utah according to a report made by the chief information officer and executive director of the Utah Department of Technology Services there are more than 20.000.000 attacks per day, while in a most alarming news story, according to officials of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the agency in charge of U.S.A.’s nuclear weapons, reports their computer systems face millions of hacking attempts daily! The number of attacks increases by the day all over the world. It is well documented.

To secure your business’s data, in these conditions, is not an easy task. However, there are trained professionals that have proven themselves on the field of data protection. Companies that can give you a sense of security when it comes to insuring that your valuable pieces of data that give meaning to your organization’s existence and well being will not be lost. Companies that will help you manage effectively the increasing cost and complexity of data growth, of what to keep and what to “forget”. That will train your staff on critical elements of data protection.

Maybe this is the most crucial choice that you will have to make. The choice of the professional you will trust to help you fight most effectively a war of increasing importance; the war for knowledge.

And this is something you should not forget: this war is not a matter of choice.

Disaster Recovery and Why We Need it

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Will Your Data Survive A Disaster?

It would have certainly been absolutely great if we could have predicted all of the possible disasters. Life would have been much easier and comfortable; we wouldn’t have to be afraid of anything. Wait a minute, though; don’t you all agree that in that way life would have been something completely different from what it is now? I’m quite sure you would have agreed on this. And maybe you would have agreed that even though during our lives certain bad things happen we do love the fact that life is unpredictable… just like love is after all!

The unpredictable is an essential part of our human life; we learn how to cope with it as time goes by. Sometimes it’s hard and some other times it’s much easier; the fact remains that no one can have absolute control of his life. Eventually, things that we haven’t planned might occur and disrupt our peace and quiet; the important thing is to know how to prevent them in the future – if this is an option, that is…

A loss of a human life for example cannot be replaced by another; every human life is unique. The rule does not apply to things, though, whatever these might be. We might be able to replace what we have lost in a case of a fire even if it might take some time. Thing is, that there could be ways to prevent some disasters from taking place in the first place. Take for example the fire that occurred a few months earlier in Macomb County, Michigan, which destroyed the county’s servers and entire phone system. There was one thing missing that could limit down the terrible effects of this event and that was a backup data center.

It even sounds weird to my ears; in 2013 I simply cannot imagine that people leave in chance things as important as the proper functioning of a county’s daily operations. A backup data center could have left the county having to deal only with the damages of the building. They would have been sure at least that their data and all of their valuable records would have been safe. Some years earlier a data system failure caused the loss of the jail records of the county.

Nowadays, it goes without a saying that disaster recovery is more than essential for any company or business that wishes to do business in a serious and effective way. Check here http://ironmountain.co.uk/services/records-management-offsite for disaster recovery services by Iron Mountain, one of the leading companies on the field. Their services come as the longed-for answer to puzzling situations that we might confront ourselves with on a daily basis nowadays, in the full blossom of informational society.

What is more, according to reports the county was planning to build a new data center to replace the existing one. Nonetheless, a backup data center seems that it wasn’t in their plans, which surely indicate the fact that there is a strong need for essential changes on data management. Indeed, in the era of big data, there is no room for mistakes like this. The Macomb case should become an example on how things shouldn’t get done; we must always live and act according to our times!

When I was still a child, I honestly couldn’t have imagined that we would have lived in times where information is so much a critical issue. However, one would safely argue that information was always driving the world – as information is power. In our times, though, we are capable of preserving this information much more adequately in comparison to previous historical times.

Stay Connected & Productive

One can only dream on how history would have evolved if humans were once able to preserve their knowledge against time… the burning of the library of Alexandria simply meant that the world lost forever tons of information that could have possibly altered history as we know it. It is certainly very hopeful to think that we live in a world where such catastrophes could never happen again. The digital era which we live in made it easy for us to store and preserve unlimited amounts of data; the only thing left is for us to take advantage of what we have at our disposal…

The Importance of Archiving Data

Memories

When I was young I used to collect all sorts of things: cd’s with my favorite music, magazine articles for things that interested me, coins, DVD’s, gadgets from my holiday’s destinations and even matchboxes for a short while. The reason is obvious: it was the simple desire to store and preserve everything that made me happy or brought to me good memories from the past. Well, it is a habit I kind of miss since I grew up a little bit. I remember the joy and the feeling of satisfaction every time I felt like updating or even checking on one of my boyish collections. It was a true feeling of joy!

What does it mean to grow up? Well, it means that the necessities of life knock at your door at some time (along with the pleasures of the adult life that is). A necessity of adult life couldn’t be other than the need to gather and preserve data that concern your professional life. You might need to do it by yourself if you are an accountant that works from home. Or, you might need to do it for your company if you’re one of the lucky ones that has his own office downtown (in the times of high rates of unemployment around Europe, yes, this is what I call luck!).

Archiving Data

How many times a company had to face devastating results in the light of a mismanagement of its data? I guess it must be many! Nowadays especially, the need of a company to store its data in an appropriate way it’s not only a necessity directed from the need to operate smoothly and efficiently but it is also a matter of stricter regulations and policies concerning data management and archive storage. E.U. recent regulations have generated heated discussions concerning the issue. Nevertheless, what matters in this case is not how things should have been but how one can adjust to new realities.

Guinness World Record/Shred Day DFW 2012

Iron Mountain provides excellent services for document storage. The company simply gathers the documents and stores them to their off-site storage facilities. Web services offered by the company provide an easy and quick access to your archive. What is more, you can label, search and of course request a retrieval of documents at any time. Iron Mountain has over 1.000 storage facilities around the world and has been operating on the field since 1951. Now, this is what I call a safe choice if you want to guarantee business continuity for your own company!

Apart from storing data and information though, there is also another necessity. It consists of the simple fact that some data, some information, needs to be destroyed. And this is another sensitive issue that has been thoroughly discussed by everyone concerned: individuals, companies, institutions and governmental agencies. It goes like this: some information is valuable (it could costs millions sometimes!) and some other is simply, from a point onward, confidential waste, meaning simply waste. And these are confidential waste that a company must get rid of.

Interactive Kiosks

In addition, by being waste it means that you need to make proper use of them! The world we live in faces a problem, we all know it: it is the single most crucial problem this planet faces and will need to face in the future and it’s the ecological one. I will put it bluntly: if we want to imagine that sometime from now in the future normal life will still go on than we really need to start protecting the environment. In other words, your confidential waste must become recycling material and obviously this is a job that needs to be handled professionally.

Businesswoman signing the contract.

Many companies choose to outsource the job of destroying their data in order to keep up with data destruction requirements and ecological concerns. Usually, they are provided with locked consoles which are emptied on a regular basis by the external company’s stuff. The waste will be 100% recycled. In addition, a small company that wishes to avoid signing a contract, it can request on-demand shredding services by another company. That means that they can use their services whenever is needed as a small company probably doesn’t need to deal with huge amount of information and confidential waste that is.

This whole issue is all about responsibility and transparency in case you didn’t get it. I only hope that most companies will comply with all of the the rules and regulations…

The Art of Preservation

Hollywood also needs its preservation expert

Classy photographs of Hollywood stars and old Film equipments

We live in an era when the right to joy and entertainment nearly equals other rights, such as that right to the pursuit of happiness, for instance.  Especially during the last decades, and at least in the Western world, everyone seems to be very concerned with this need, urge and desire for a little bit more entertainment. It is as if most of us are pursuing our happiness in some dream-like worlds, settings and contexts revealed and offered to us by the means of entertainment. Even if ephemeral, they do trigger our wildest imagination and inspire us, getting our energy level up, even if for a little while. It might be only natural, since , honestly speaking, not all of us people have  the resources or opportunity to go on the pursuit of happiness  for real and for granted, with many chances of getting there and also decreased risks of losing it on the way.

Given the situation, no wonder everything seems to be more pleasurable today. Did you ever take a look at Google’s offices around the world for example? If so, you must have gotten that feeling that those people in there are having fun most of the time instead of actually working hard! Or that those are the offices of the future just as well, for the sake of the health and well being of those spending most of their time in their workplace.  Indeed, it was in the 1960’s when people – citizens of this world – demanded “play” and “joy” to be universal rights. Therefore, even at work one shouldn’t be deprived of the right to play, enjoy and have some fun…

Based on the aforementioned, the world of entertainment grew till it became huge – larger than life, one might argue.  It is one of the biggest and most profitable industries worldwide. People in the U.S. or in Europe tend to ask for more and more cultural products, giving this impression that they simply can’t have enough! It’s never enough also due to the fact that technology has made things much more exciting.

Nothing is static nowadays and there is always something new around, even when you might have thought that you had had enough… Take the movie industry, for example: the introduction of 3D technology came at the moment when many viewers had already started to prefer their home cinema over the big screen. After the release of the first blockbusters in 3D, I don’t think that many would choose to watch Iron Man 3 at home! Of course, there is always this option of purchasing a 3D television set for the living room; however, it still does not equal the pleasure derived by the higher 3D technology used in a cinema hall.

Iron Mountain – Storing and Managing Entertainment assets

Talking about entertainment, I simply cannot imagine our modern lives without Hollywood. Because Hollywood, only by its name being echoed, actually, signifies the Eldorado of world entertainment!  It is there, in California, where the heart of popular entertainment is endlessly pumping. And for this heart to go on, we also need the ideal means of preserving all of those enjoyable little treasures.

This is when the specialists in safeguarding the product of our work come into the picture. Iron Mountain Entertainment Services are the world’s single largest center on film, sound, and digital preservation services. In case you were wondering what Universal Studios, Sony, Corbis, Universal Music Group and Paramount Pictures might have in common, other than producing and distributing tons of cultural products for our eyes only, well, then here is your answer: they all trust Iron Mountain’s valuable services. This leading company world-wide when it comes to data protection or information and records management among other services, hosts safely around 22 million elements produced and owned by over 1.200 media and entertainment companies.

 Video about Iron Mountain in Virginia including the Corbis Bettmann Archive File Preservation Facility.

Their services are complete and complex and include analog to digital transfer, real-time film viewing and videotape cleaning, among many other much needed services in the industry.  Not to forget their 2 petabyte (PB) online Digital Content Repository, where companies can store and retrieve their digital material! It is hosted at the now enlarged Iron Mountain’s Digital Studios in… Hollywood. Where else could they have been than in Hollywood!?

So here you have it: as long as this world is driven by information and informational material (which is what the entertainment industry is actually using and constantly producing), we will also need a preservation expert. We need someone that can guarantee to us that nothing will be lost, since we live in an era when information is crucial, but also sensitive and vulnerable.  If you have ever lost even a small movies collection that you might have gathered on your computer because of a minor error or because the system crashed, you might then know what I mean …

Information Is The Key

Privacy is one of the hot issues of the day – and when we say ‘of the day’ we usually tend to think about today and the current matters going on, as if there has never been a yesterday. However, what one must have in mind is that privacy has been the case ever since humanity exists. Humans have always tried to protect nothing else than … information! Since their fellow humans were after what they are after still today: access to resources! And in order for the cave of treasures to open, one must know the password; one must know how to say ‘Open Sesame’, which actually counts for the very key to fortunes and prosperity, to success and growth.

History shows that information has always been the most precious of the treasures that humans had to guard. Think about the dawn of time, when hunters were gathered in closed groups and one had to pass a harsh initiation process, which was nothing else than a test on whether one could keep the secret … or not. It seems that information was vital ever since then. Hunters forming closed groups were doing nothing else than to protect information about resources, such as the best hunting spots, the best weapons, the best techniques. Of course, they had their competitors: other competing hunting groups, which were after the same thing…

As the world turned around and humanity evolved, information still kept on being the most precious. Just think about the political twists and turns of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar would have never been ‘defeated’ if there had not been for secrecy; some secretive few protected a piece of information, one that only they knew and kept safer than safe, a piece of information that Caesar never found out about – otherwise, history would have surely been different. And this is how power was lost by one and gained by others even back then!

Taking a big leap in time, let’s take a look at those days of the big geographical discoveries that marked the 15th and 16th centuries. What do we learn from there? We learn that what mattered most back then was still information – maybe much more than the gold that was exploited in the new conquered lands. Eventually, it leaked, it got sold and bought, it got away from the hands of some to the hands of others and, so, access to resources had to be shared among more than one power (which was Spain back then). Also, during the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries information was still at the basis of prosperity – so many patents and secrets must have been sold and bought, so that some industrialists to make it better than others. Advanced data protection services did not exist back then, so that to safeguard one’s own business and its steady and future well-being. But what it did exist was a sort of contest, a hunger for information…

There were world wars and conflicts that shook the world’s history. And even then – or maybe especially during those times of intense torment – information was vital. Whoever had it, could win the war. Not to mention the Cold War, which actually might have meant nothing else but a chess game between East and West, played on a board which was actually the world’s map. The peons, though, were precious – as these were real people, sent from one side to another for nothing else than gathering, gaining, buying or selling… information.

Was it any different than the times today? Maybe. But what has not changed at all is the importance of information and data protection matters. Nowadays we have reached the highest speed in the exchange or flow of information that humanity has ever experienced. This is due to the new technological advancements, one of them being also the use of internet. However, data protection has never been more important than at the present moment. That is why nowadays we also have specialized companies in offering nothing else than the antidote: data protection services, as the guarantee to the steadiness and well being of your business.

By looking back in time and then by witnessing today’s progress, I am sometimes proud of having been born today, in the era of smart solutions – maybe smarter than ever! So, let’s all enjoy the benefits of it!