• The Internet of Things can make operations run smoothly in any organization but only through constant monitoring of the devices that make up the IoT network. Credit: SerGRAY/Shutterstock
     The Internet of Things can make operations run smoothly in any organization but only through constant monitoring of the devices that make up the IoT network. Credit: SerGRAY/Shutterstock

IoT Monitoring for Defense and Public Safety

March 9, 2021
By Sebastian Krueger

Consider four roadblocks to monitoring Internet of Things devices.

In the ever-growing and complexifying ecosystem of the Internet of Things (IoT), demand for connectivity is stronger than ever and only bound to intensify. Statista predicts that by 2025, there will be 38.6 billion devices connected to the internet, which will put even more pressure on organizations to monitor their infrastructures.

For system administrators, there are several obstacles to keeping pathways clear and the flow of data smooth. Here are a few of the most common roadblocks when it comes to IoT monitoring, as well as a few ways to overcome them.

Roadblock #1: Managing different interfaces for different devices

IoT can make operations run smoothly in any organization, but only through constant monitoring of the devices that make up the IoT network. The most common problem in IoT monitoring is that each device will likely have its own interface to show the data it gathers. For example, a closed-circuit television camera with an infrared motion detector to secure a border will not have the same interface as a panic button to call emergencies, or smart traffic devices and air radars. Their interfaces are uniquely built to show only the information that device is gathering.

Each of these examples share metrics, as well as notifications of incidents. By using an open platform that can process different alerting methods and protocols, as well as the main metrics, the administrator of the project will save time and resources by looking at one monitor with aggregated data. One central platform frees the administrator from having to learn how to use several different tools and from having to pay for different subscriptions or licenses. Plus, administrators get the added benefit of consolidating all alerts.

Roadblock #2: Policies and cybersecurity

There are two main sensitive issues that need to be addressed with IoT usage in the sphere of public safety. One is related to the data and personal privacy, which is at stake when smart technology is used for facial recognition or other biometric data from the population. Policies need to be adapted according to the state-of-the-art protection of personal privacy, or projects need to be well dimensioned to comply with the regulations and policies, if they are already protective of sensitive data.

There is also the dimension of cybersecurity. The more devices there are, the more opportunities there are for cyber criminals to open backdoors. No IoT project should be approved without being thoroughly reviewed by the IT security teams. This is something that should be regulated.

Roadblock #3: Connectivity across large geographic areas

Connectivity is the main challenge to overcome for defense and safety projects involving large geographical areas. Unstable connections can compromise the accuracy of the reported data. The world is betting on 5G for wide area connectivity and the possibility to penetrate buildings to provide a fast network for data transmission. While 5G coverage is growing, it is doing so by using different spectrums and will be the carrier for information not only for IoT devices, but also for cell phones, computers and other devices.

There are other technologies, though, for the exclusive use of IoT devices, like low-power wide area networks (also called 0G), which are not as developed but could offer a competitive option to connect IoT devices reliably. Apart from connectivity, open protocols instead of proprietary ones for the exchange of information among systems is also a challenge for the IoT burst.   

Roadblock #4: Different technologies in different countries

The main barrier to IoT monitoring in another country, as with large domestic geographic areas, is connectivity. There is still no standardization in the frequencies used to transmit IoT data. Even in the United States, 5G networks use different bands, and great variation can be seen across countries. This is a challenge for IoT devices, which must adapt to different technologies depending on the country.

To solve this, research what connectivity methods are available in the countries where the project will take place and look for devices that can work with more than one band. If that is not possible, it is important to make sure that devices can transmit data to a repository which can work with open application programming interfaces. That way, no matter what the connectivity challenges are, you can consume your data from a few data sources to prevent complexity.   

While obstacles remain, IoT will have a positive impact on public safety and defense. With constant monitoring and a few workarounds to the common problems, administrators can be optimistic about the future of the integration of technology, public safety and defense.

Sebastian Krueger is the regional vice president for the Americas with Paessler Inc.

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