Protecting the Internet of Things and living in Smart Cities

Charles (Chuck) Brooks serves as the vice president for government relations & marketing for Sutherland Government Solutions. He served at the Department of Homeland Security as the first director of legislative affairs for the Science & Technology Directorate.

Last week both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned of risks associated with the emerging Internet of Things. The term IoT often refers to devices that are readable, recognizable, locatable, and controllable via the Internet. Gartner estimates there will be around 26 billion networked devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. Certainly, there are many risks inherent with so many objects connected to networks, but there are also many smart technologies that can enhance security and DHS’s mission to protect the nation.

 

In public safety, sensors, embedded security systems and surveillance cameras that can monitor public behavior are becoming a norm. In 2005 in London, closed-circuit TV cameras helped lead to the identification of those who carried out the attack on London's subway and bus systems. More recently, the identification of the prime suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing came in part through security-camera images. Because of the limitations of personnel to constantly patrol areas of cities, surveillance monitoring by video and acoustic devices have enabled law enforcement to magnify their reach and also keep an electronic record of forensic evidence.

Don't Miss CYBERCON 2015, a cybersecurity conference coming Nov. 18, featuring DISA Director Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn and more government leaders. Get details here
The integration of sensors, networks and data analytics is what composes a “Smart City”. Smart Cities integrate transportation, energy, water resources, waste collections, smart-building technologies, communications, and security technologies and services. Frost & Sullivan estimates the combined global market potential of these smart city segments to be $1.5 trillion ($20 billion on sensors alone by 2050, according to Navigant Technology.)

The IoT for Smart Cities has received much attention from DHS, especially from the under secretary of science and technology,Reggie Brothers. His S & T Directorate is continually seeking, developing and sharing innovative technologies. In its own words, “S&T is looking for your best ideas on how we can mobilize and repurpose cutting-edge smart technologies to strengthen the safety and security of our nation. Focusing on wearable tech and Internet of Things, this discussion is a ‘call to action’ to challenge you to think differently about the role science plays in preparing for future threats and risks. S&T envisions a future where mobile sensors, communications, materials, and visualization technologies seamlessly work together to enhance the safety of the public and our responders.”

For DHS, this mission directly correlates to incorporating technologies for shared situational awareness and enabling integrated operational actions to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from cyber incidents as well as crime, terrorism and natural disasters.

Specifically for DHS and law enforcement, there are a variety of key areas of IT, Smart Cities — or in the case of homeland security, “secure cities” — component roles:

 

 

  • Physical and cyber security;

  • Intrusion prevention/surveillance;

  • Resilience;

  • Public safety services (first responders);

  • Sensors, detectors, biometrics, wearables;

  • Drones, robots;

  • Data analytics, urban informatics;

  • Cameras;

  • Command & control centers;

  • Interoperable communications;

  • Crime mapping;

  • Social media monitoring.

 

 

The primary focus of DHS has always been to detect and mitigate weapons of mass destruction. The defense against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats will continue to be priorities of DHS because of the asymmetrical terror consequences they present From its onset, the agency has been working with sensors and networks that detect the presence of toxic gas, pathogens, radiation and explosives. The automation, deployment and analytic derived from these systems continues to be enhanced as components are integrated in to smart and secure cities.


Wearables is on one of the newer promising technology areas for DHS. The S & T  Directorate recently announced a business accelerator program named EMERGE! That is aimed at developing new interoperable wearable technology for the public safety

community. Future first responder technologies will likely include headset systems with cameras for visual awareness with embedded, computers that will analyze visual data. They will have sensor technologies for sharing information in real-time with hospitals that will be invaluable for rescues in disaster. This summer, S &T launched  the Incident Management Information Sharing (IMIS) Internet of Things pilot to apply IoT to the challenge of vastly improving responders’ situational awareness during emergencies. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention DHS’s role in cybersecurity. DHS is responsible for overseeing the protection of the .gov domain and for providing assistance and expertise to private sector owners and operators. Because the IoT touches both government and private sector networks, DHS in an integral part in deterrence, ameliorating risk, and ensuring resilience to the IoT networks. As a society on the verge of unparalleled exponential connectivity, DHS’s role is in cybersecurity is a critical one. 

New risks, privacy issues, and unforeseen issues will no doubt confront us as the Internet of Things continues to evolve and expand. DHS will be at the forefront of addressing those developments and will continue to fulfill a vital role in its mandate of keeping citizens safe by harnessing new technologies for secure and smart cities.