Last month we hosted a webinar, Building a Smarter Internet of Things, with Frost & Sullivan and our partner, Gemalto. Our panelists covered a lot of ground in 60 minutes, so I wanted to share some of the takeaways from our conversation around public safety.
Connected devices are all M2M but may not be part of the IoT.
A common misconception is that M2M and IoT are interchangeable terms, but in fact, they have very distinct meanings. M2M (Machine to Machine) describes devices and sensors that communicate with each other via any form of networking i.e., a cell phone connecting via Bluetooth to a car’s stereo.
IOT (Internet of Things) refers to the broad network of these devices communicating with each other, making decisions based on pre-determined thresholds and sending alerts to humans, allowing informed decision-making to create a safer world.
For instance, if a minor fender-bender causes traffic to come to a stop at an intersection, crash sensors in the vehicles can send data to first responders, helping them to prepare a response. Also, sensors in the road and traffic cameras can automatically send information to GPS satellites, re-routing traffic until the accident is cleared.
In the above scenario, each of these connections is a machine talking to a machine but the sensors are all connected to a larger network of objects, allowing them to be part of the Internet of Things and creating a much greater ability to communicate important information.
The infrastructure for a connected world is being built and implemented today.
The future of IoT involves communication on a massive scale. Networks, devices and sensors are slowing being connected to one another. The more the network grows, the more powerful a tool it will become to help create a safer world.
11 major cities across the US are currently developing or implementing a smart city infrastructure. Soon, data from healthcare, government, waste management, traffic cameras, first responders, utilities, railroads, etc. will be aggregated and analyzed to allow for faster, more informed decision making during emergency conditions.
As LTE networks are built out, rural areas are being integrated into the larger network, allowing authorities to track train shipments, truckloads of dangerous materials and improve emergency response times in remote locations. Of course, this infrastructure will take time to develop full potential, but the good news is that those efforts are well underway.
Data and information security are at the forefront of IoT design and infrastructure.
Standards associations, such as the GSMA, are already releasing IoT security guidelines to be built into IoT infrastructure. Collaboration between industry associations and vendor communities plays a huge role in the development of new IoT technologies and how they are secured.
Data security needs to be balanced against the value of the data. For instance, data such as the current weather conditions requires less protection than a patient’s health record data being pushed to an EMT’s tablet or other smart device. Recognizing the difference between these two scenarios and being able to have the hardware intelligently assess those distinctions will help create more secure methods of sending information without adding too much overhead.
Networks are being designed to handle increased traffic from M2M connections.
With the use of several different networks, including LTE, MTC, LTE Cat 0 and IoT (narrowband) LTE, traffic can now be spread out depending on the need and location. In addition, the technology already exists to prioritize the most relevant traffic through the network. For example, calls to 9-1-1 have priority in a cellular network over non-emergency calls. A similar protocol is being utilized for IoT signals to allow critical information to get to the appropriate responder.
Devices are also being designed to “behave themselves,” meaning they are built with a level of intelligence allowing them to send only relevant data. These thresholds can be programmed ahead of time with platforms like Emergency Aware Services (EAS), allowing for proper network utilization and to keep data traffic from becoming overwhelming.
Without question, these technology developments are going to revolutionize public safety over the next few years and, ultimately, protect and save lives. If you’d like to learn more about the IoT evolution, you can watch the entire webinar on demand here.
If you’d like to learn more about Emergency Aware Services from West, you can visit our website here.