Using the Internet of Things to Protect People

The age old saying “safe and secure” used to refer to our physical well being, making sure we live, work and play in environments that would maintain our comfort. The term “safe and secure” meant one and the same. But today, this phrase has a far broader meaning. The evolution of the internet, and more recently the Internet of Things (IoT), means this saying has evolved and this evolution questions whether “safe” and “secure” now warrants very separate consideration.

The difference between “safe” and “secure”
In today’s modern digital age there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by when we don’t hear about another cybercrime, the leaking of personal information or hacking accusations. But each one of these examples is purely focused on security. While the IoT industry focuses on improving the control and security of our internet assets and the media eagerly report on the breaches, it is easy to forget about how IoT is helping us to become safer.

Creating a safer world with IoT
IoT technology and solutions are widely used by our policy and emergency forces. Interconnected technologies, such as personal alarm systems and CCTV networks are now vital tools in their day-to-day work. They also use artificial intelligence and complex machine learning algorithms to analyse the data captured to predict crime and safety issues. This technology is especially valuable when considering online crime, such as cyber-bullying and identity fraud. It is also incredibly important for analysis of the ever-increasing amount of video footage, encompassing both drone and personal camera feeds.

Moving away from the obvious technology-focused uses for IoT, there are many other areas that can leverage the Internet of Things. Communal public and private services such as sports facilities and hospitals have always had a ‘duty of care’ obligation. But these organisations can now use IoT to provide more effective, safer services that also drive down public spending.

Historically, to maintain regulatory compliance, each site would need to be visited and checked on a regular basis. But IoT solutions can now replace the need for a physical site visit, instead monitoring and reporting with the use of sensors. Not only does this reduce the cost of monitoring, it also creates far safer environments because ad hoc checks are replaced with continuous monitoring.

On a more personal level, many people, including a growing number of elderly and vulnerable people, now have personal and fitness trackers. These devices have the capability to automatically and dynamically detect circumstances that could put our safety into jeopardy. For example, such a device could alert medical professionals when a person has fallen down with undue force. This speed and immediacy could save, and certainly improve, many lives.

Within industry, smart manufacturing (often also known as ‘IIoT’) is now contributing substantial value towards employee safety compliance and performance, as well as machine compliance. The use of IoT is also reducing downtime and providing real-time insights into how to avoid future safety and operational issues.

While we should remain very aware of the security aspect of IoT, over time technologists and business experts will continue to refine the security threat levels in both consumer and industrial scenarios. This will also happen organically as consumers begin to self-police, improve security understanding and drive such improvement.

In tandem, we must embrace the real and valuable benefits IoT brings in terms of safety. By considering both “safety” and “security” we will be able to fully harness the IoT digital transformation.

To discover more about how you can embrace IoT in your business, have a look here.