IoT Security Not Only a Cloud Problem

By Enrique Pavlioglou & Joyce Deuley

IoT has helped advance a variety of fields; for example, smart irrigation in the farming industry or asset tracking with the service industry. Few solutions have had as much social impact, however, as its aid in law enforcement.

Public safety and security is top of mind in the US, with the heightened tensions between the police force and citizens over the last year, and there have been several steps to integrate IoT within police departments to mitigate such tensions. But, public relations with the authorities aren’t the only things being heavily scrutinized: the IoT industry is also under a microscope when it comes to "big brother" type technologies and its capacity to remain secure. Constant hack attempts and some controversial devices (i.e., drones) have customers fearful of the industry. But how many people know that IoT technologies are actually keeping them physically more secure? With the country facing a current law enforcement crisis, IoT’s combination with law enforcement couldn’t have come at a better time.

While several tragic and unfortunate events took place before innovators moved to do something about them, President Obama recently proposed a 3 year, $263 million dollar investment that will increase the use of body cameras and other devices by police officers in order to decrease the occurrences of police brutality. Some of the most innovative designs that are being applied today are smart firearms. Yardarm Technologies, for example, has received a lot of hype as of late, mainly due to its smart gun concept. The gun is equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope, GPP, and Bluetooth connectivity. This combination of sensors and locations services will continuously monitor, record and transmit live data from the police officer’s gun to Yardarm’s cloud before the police process it. The technology will allow for greater transparency into police use and misuse of authority concerning gun use. 

Other devices being implemented include a real-time gunshot monitoring system called ShotSpotter. ShotSpotter recognizes gun shot sounds by utilizing microphones placed in the area. Each sensor covers around 10 square miles, as well as the time it takes for the sound to reach the microphone to approximate the location of the gun. The sensors are limited to outdoor-fired shots at the moment; the company is developing more software for indoor-fired shots.

Wearables in the law enforcement space will have the biggest impact on the decrease of police brutality instances. Motorola developed the HC1 headset; the device acts as a headset computer that also records video of the police officer’s point of view. The videos cannot be altered since they are stored in the cloud and can later be used to provide evidence in a case if necessary. Wearables in this space have not been limited to human use; canine unit cameras are also being deployed. Adding more security to dogs and humans alike.

By having police officers utilize a variety of IoT solutions, US police departments will become more transparent in their processes and interactions with the public, increasing trust and alleviating fears of a slanted verdict in police brutality cases. Connected body cameras and guns as well as GPS positioning technologies will help to create a safer environment for civilians without hampering police officers in the line of duty, improving relations between them and the public overall.