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Smart farm cybersecurity is an international concern

A Virginia Tech professor speaks to a group gathered around a long rectangular table
CCI researcher Kang Xia, interim director of the Virginia Tech Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture (CAIA), welcomed representatives from the Brazilian National Service for Industrial Training (SENAI) Innovation Institute this month to learn more about collaboration opportunities in smart farm cybersecurity. Photo by Becca Emery, Virginia Tech Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture.

CCI Researcher Prem Uppuluri followed a hunch when he heard about smart farm cybersecurity at the CCI Southwest Virginia annual meeting in October. He invited researchers from the Virginia Tech Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture (CAIA) and the CCI Southwest Virginia leadership team to meet with a group from the Brazilian National Service for Industrial Training (SENAI) Innovation Institute who visited Southwest Virginia on Friday, Nov. 11.

With support from 100,000 Strong in Americas Innovation Fund, Uppuluri is working with SENAI to further develop the Internet of Things (IoT) lab at Radford University, which was built with CCI funding – but he saw potential connections beyond this.

“The Brazilian team was very interested in CCI projects — especially ones that involved 5G, smart farm, and IoT security,” said Uppuluri, who is a professor at Radford University and directs the Center for Information Security. “We knew that they would be interested in connecting with the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture, which is also part of the CCI community.”

CAIA works to establish Virginia Tech as a comprehensive, innovative global research leader in smart and secure agriculture technologies and data analytics for informed decisions. SENAI connects university research and education with Brazilian industry, serving 28 industrial areas, including cybersecurity, data science and entrepreneurship. The visiting team is working on smart farms (small family farms retrofitted with sensors), greenhouse gas emission monitoring using drones, a hydro-cyber project, as well as cybersecurity of auto manufacturing and industry automation.

“Expanding international partnerships and striking up creative collaborations strengthens our mission to advance Virginia as a global leader in secure cyberphysical systems,” said Gretchen Matthews, CCI Southwest Virginia director. “We’re excited to take part in these conversations.”

The Friday meet-up proved successful.

“Our interest is piqued,” said Kang Xia, CAIA interim director. “There seems to be a great opportunity to bring CAIA, CCI, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Global Program, and Radford University together to work with the Brazilian visitors from SENAI. Stay tuned!”

Uppuluri and his Radford team are headed to the Pernambuco area of Brazil in January to talk to startups.