Insights on Security and Public Safety


The Security and Public Safety sector comprises a wide spread of activities that include Public emergency response and management, security of essential supplies (e.g. water), and the basic services and infrastructure on which people depend.  All of these are being disrupted by climate change, an increase in cybercrime and increasing modernisation and digitisation.

1.  Key issues in the sector

The ability to ensure public safety today depends on three things: immediacy and reliability of response underscored by accurate and adequate data and connectivity.  

  • First responders and emergencies

First responders in emergencies have many needs.  Continuous connectivity and information sharing on site impart situational awareness to workers at sites that have faced accidents or attacks; these can occur anywhere, in large venues or open spaces, theatres, shopping malls etc.  

Ambulances are vital emergency responders, preparing patients before they reach the hospital and providing access to their treatment details.  

  • Blue Light services

Police cars and fire trucks need a range of technologies for their functioning, including

  • surveillance via ubiquitous street cameras to identify suspects
  • body worn cameras for police on the front line, used worldwide to record evidence
  • Facial recognition technology, but this has faced intense criticism from lawmakers and privacy advocates in different countries. 

The demand for lone worker protection is on the rise due to increasing safety concerns for workers in dangerous locations, and ever stricter regulations. 

  • Water scarcity and pollution

Water shortages are threatened worldwide in the coming years, and water scarcity, pollution and flooding threats require urgent global attention.  This necessitates the monitoring of all parts of the water treatment and delivery system.  Climate change increases the risk of extreme and adverse weather, droughts and high rainfall, while water supply infrastructures in the developed world are ageing.

  • Threats to infrastructures from climate change

Climate change increases the risk of coastal erosion, forest fires, damage to pipelines, cracks in bridges and other structures.

Climate change makes landslides and rising sea levels more likely to happen.  Infrastructure monitoring of built and natural structures can prevent long-term risks.  A recently revised report (February 2022) from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) states that climate change is already going beyond the ability of many societies to cope.  

Knowing how water will flow under different conditions and over different terrains is of value to many stakeholders including the insurance industry, government agencies, business owners, local authorities and homeowners.  They all need accurate data on which to base complex analyses and forecasts.

  • Environmental monitoring

Smart cities necessitate continual monitoring for the health of citizens.  Measuring air quality is a vital component of smart city provisions.  By 2050, outdoor air pollution is projected to become the main cause of environmentally related deaths worldwide. 

  • ICT and cybersecurity

Cyberattacks by organised crime and hostile states disrupt economic activity, businesses and public safety.  The Threat Landscape 2021 report from the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) affirms cyber threats continue to rise.  The transitioning of traditional infrastructures to on-line solutions, advanced interconnectivity and the exploitation of emerging technologies all add to the challenge of monitoring ICT networks, devices,  computers and end point estates. 

The digitisation and openness of ICT networks increases the attack surface – and concomitant risks – which security at the perimeter cannot protect.  Moreover, most IoT devices come with no inbuilt security features; more research is needed into IoT device security and a forensic framework for IoT devices.

2.  How IoT is addressing these challenges

  • First responders and emergencies

 IoT applications to assist first responders include:

  • Making the accident scene safe for emergency personnel and the public through specialised sensors detecting poison gases or explosives;  street surveillance using video cameras (ground based) or drones (aerial)
  • Making ambulances smarter through being equipped like emergency rooms, preparing patients before they reach hospital and allowing paramedics access to their treatment details
  • Making hospitals safer through remote monitoring of acute, infected patients.

Digital twin and artificial intelligence technologies may help provide better outcomes for patients by connecting data points, providing situational awareness and bringing real-time insight to healthcare workers.  

  • Blue Light services

IoT devices and systems equip smart responders, fire trucks and police cars.  These range from CCTV cameras and fire detection systems to traffic management systems that can dynamically control traffic lights to ease the passage of fire trucks and ambulances. 

Lone worker protection allows workers in dangerous places the ability to summon help automatically through a connected wearable device.  Following the 2020 pandemic, there are wearables to detect adverse mental health and fatigue in workers.   

  • Water scarcity and pollution

IoT enables leak detection in underground pipes using high-tech acoustic loggers and electronic sensors to pick up vibrations. 

Asset tracking of flood defences utilise RFID, low power networks and cellular among other things

Monitoring rising water levels reduces the risk of disruption from road closures

Water quality sensors detect the discharging of raw sewage into water courses following storms overflow.

  • Threats to infrastructures, built and natural

IoT is employed for many use cases, including erosion, landslides, cracks in bridges, pipelines etc. Sensors can pick up movement, vibration, pressure, tilt, relative air and soil moisture, and temperature.  Airborne drones may be used to detect landslides and inspect sites after an incident.

Railways safety depends on early detection and warnings to avoid accidents, including IoT for monitoring tracks and rolling stock. 5G will enhance the capability to distribute this data rapidly. When combined with analytics, operators will be able to carry out better preventative maintenance, predict failures and avoid accidents. 

  • Environmental Monitoring

There are sensors to detect and measure all manner of environmental parameters – solutes, gases and particulates.

Air quality in cities necessitates monitoring particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ground-level ozone.  Analysing the origin of local air pollution allows city authorities to put in place environmentally sensitive traffic management.

  • ICT: and cybersecurity

ICT Security necessitates monitoring networks, devices and computers; diagnostics, analytics, and alerts allow companies and authorities to respond to abnormal behaviour and optimise performance.  Specialist software analyses logs using artificial intelligence.  Devices themselves are good ‘digital witnesses’ as they can be sources of evidence data.  The industry is constantly developing new tools to extract relevant data from devices which have been compromised.

Various tools are available for ICT disaster recovery; the Cloud makes it possible to store an enterprise’s data securely away from the enterprise.

3.  How the IoT World Map can assist

IoT solutions have several different elements and can be complex. This complexity will also increase with more use of real time processing, the introduction of private networking and the rollout of 5G. Each of these offers major benefits in this sector but assistance from IoT solution experts with specific knowledge of the security/public safety sector is increasingly needed. This presents a difficulty for IoT buyers, who typically have to identify which suppliers have specific knowledge of their application areas.

The IoT World Map is arranged so that those requiring IoT solutions can access the map knowing only the applications they need support for in their own sector. IoT suppliers who have direct security/public safety sector experience and can assist specifically in such solutions can be readily identified and contacted.

The aim of this is to assist IoT buyers to proceed more quickly to solution design and implementation.

Robin Duke-Woolley

Beecham Research


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