Internet of Things technologies have found applications in a wide range of industries, including major business sectors. It’s important to note that a lot of social sectors have also been transformed thanks to IoT devices and solutions. For example, the introduction of IoT has taken protection of public safety to a completely new level. In this article, we’ll describe some of the software products powered by IoT for the public safety industry and their benefits to society.
IoT for public safety: market overview
In speaking about public safety, it’s important to highlight what factors are encompassed by that term. Public safety broadly means providing security for all the people living in a country. It includes fields such as social welfare, environmental protection, and national defense.
IoT technology is capable of increasing the efficacy of any public safety system, thanks to connecting smart devices, collecting, processing, and displaying data received from them. The received real-time data can be used for making timely decisions and reacting to any possible threat effectively.
Thanks to the effectiveness of IoT public safety solutions and growing investment in this field on the part of authorities and governments in countries all over the world, the global market in IoT for the public safety market is expected to hit $29 billion by 2027.
One growth booster in the IoT for public safety industry was the coronavirus pandemic, and especially the influence of lockdowns introduced during its first wave. At that time, it became obvious that cities need better systems to protect life and property, a strong level of situational awareness, and an effective emergency response to any possible threat even when there are no human resources for fulfilling all these tasks.
IoT public safety use cases
Though some creative IoT public safety projects haven’t made it out of the design stage, various solutions have been implemented in real life around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular IoT public safety use cases already in place.
“Smart building” systems carry out functions such as tracking entries, recording videos that can help authorities investigate cases, as well as monitoring the building’s interior environment. When an emergency is detected, such systems can send alerts to authorized employees and public safety officials.
Smart traffic signals
These IoT devices are an important part of smart cities, aimed at enhancing urban mobility and optimizing traffic flow. These traffic signals are enriched with special sensors that allow them to monitor and analyze ongoing traffic conditions. Based on this IoT data, they can change the timing of lights to ease traffic flow. When a car accident or other emergency is detected, smart traffic signals can find an appropriate solution for regulating traffic under unusual conditions.
These objects of urban infrastructure can include a microphone, IoT sensors, and cameras to gather information about possible accidents, criminal behavior, and general traffic. When a deviation from the norm is detected, smart streetlights can send alerts and call for help.
Smart emergency vehicles
These vehicles, used in a similar way to smart streetlights, can capture video and audio that is forwarded to a relevant authority for use in addressing emergencies as well as to inform traffic planning and training.
These IoT public safety solutions are designed with a view to analyzing traffic patterns and defining possible risks and threats. Data can be processed with the help of artificial intelligence in an effort to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and crashes.
IoT devices included in modern smart city systems can be used for tracking factors such as noise, air temperature, humidity, gas composition, object velocity, etc. All this data can be of great importance in analyzing the overall wellbeing of people living in a monitored area. For example, such systems can automatically send alerts when the risk of forest fire is detected.
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Future trends in the public safety sector
Though we’re already observing strong interest in IoT public safety solutions, this market is still emerging, and we can expect to see even more cutting-edge tools and applications in years to come. The development of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), deep learning, and 5G network data exchange has a huge influence on improvements in this field. Given the growing adoption of the above-mentioned technologies in creating IoT public safety systems, it’s possible to project some trends that will shape this market in the future.
- Situational awareness tools. Being able to provide timely situational awareness and emergency response is of high importance in dealing with various threats. That’s why developers and engineers are concentrating on developing systems capable not only of detecting threats and dangers but also notifying people about them and providing useful instructions for what they can do to protect themselves. Such solutions and systems will include various cameras, alarms, detectors, and smart sensors that will send real-time data to a server.
- Automated emergency response. This feature can be integrated into many types of IoT public safety solutions. When a threat is defined, an automated emergency response may include a variety of actions, such as notifying authorities, changing traffic flows, disabling electricity or water in the building, etc. Such features can also be used to help organize traffic and increase the safety of drivers. For example, when there is fog or ice-coated roadway ahead, alerts can be made to automatically appear on digital signs.
- Emergency calling. Advanced smart devices can not only detect threats but also make calls to relevant authorities and organizations. For example, if smoke and heat are detected in the building, such devices can call the fire brigade or be connected with the police in case of an incident.
Challenges in implementing IoT solutions for public safety
Though such systems have a lot of benefits, especially related to optimizing the workforce and increasing the efficacy of public safety monitoring, there are some serious challenges that present obstacles to the adoption of IoT technology.
- Lack of unified standards. Developers around the world are working on enhancing IoT technologies and looking for new ways to apply IoT tools in everyday life. Nevertheless, it is difficult to create a single standard and use it all over the world.
- Lack of regulation. IoT is considered a rather new sector, so there are still no well-developed rules and legislation.
- Privacy issues. Though IoT systems gather data to improve public safety, they inevitably also collect a lot of private information, and the ethical questions this raises can’t be ignored. Moreover, IoT networks can be quite vulnerable to breaches and hacker attacks, which may lead to sensitive data loss.
Instead of a final word
The social value of IoT public safety applications shouldn’t be underestimated. Great enhancements in security and traffic control will lead to a serious reduction in accidents and injuries and mitigate their consequences.
However, as with any other emerging technology, there is a need for improved regulation and the introduction of industry standards. Only after these issues are solved will we be able to talk about the mass adoption of IoT in the public safety sphere.
But despite these hurdles, it’s fair to think that this is a good time to be developing IoT solutions that will wow the market and change the game. If you’re ready to start bringing your ideas to life, we are here to support you! Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help you.