Researchers from London’s Kingston University are looking at how drones, smart wristbands and body-mounted video cameras could be used to help keep people safe at large outdoor concerts.
The university’s Robot Vision team (RoViT) has secured funding of more than €900,000 to work on the security aspect of the €15m EC funded MONICA project, an international study aimed at addressing the noise impact and security challenges faced when managing large outdoor concerts.
Coordinated by German research organisation the Fraunhofer Society, MONICA (which stands for Management Of Networked IoT wearables – very large scale demonstration of Cultural societal Applications) project will aim to demonstrate how the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could be brought together in a networked system to help manage large-scale events.
The Kingston team will explore how smart technologies could improve video surveillance and speed up response from security teams to incidents in the middle of a large crowd.
Its work will involve examining how various devices could secure live video, audio and other data and how these could be used to respond to incidents more quickly. “We will be looking at how wearable devices – such as smart wristbands that could be worn by concert-goers – could connect to a system……which will provide GPS information,” said lead researcher Professor Paolo Remagnino. “We will be researching how other inter-connected IoT technologies, such as body-mounted video cameras or potentially even drones, could then be sent in to the affected areas to get footage that can be fed back in to the system.” Smart wristband technologies are already in use as part of distributed lighting systems at outdoor concerts (most notably by the band Coldplay) and for ticketing and security purposes.
The project will also involve the team looking into how all of this data could then be brought together through a cloud-based system where it would be stored indefinitely, allowing it to be examined and processed both live and after the event, Professor Remagnino said.
During the three-year project, pilot events will be held across several European cities with the aim of demonstrating how a system bringing together these technologies could be used in the real world.
How blockchain can change the future of IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a fast-growing industry destined to transform homes, cities, farms, factories, and practically everything else by making them smart and more efficient. According to Gartner, by 2020, there will be more than 20 billion connected things across the globe, powering a market that will be worth north of $3 trillion.
But the chaotic growth of IoT will introduce several challenges, including identifying, connecting, securing, and managing so many devices. It will be very challenging for the current infrastructure and architecture underlying the Internet and online services to support huge IoT ecosystems of the future.
This is something that can perhaps be solved through blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which is proving its worth in many other industries, including IoT.
Blockchain will enable IoT ecosystems to break from the traditional broker-based networking paradigm, where devices rely on a central cloud server to identify and authenticate individual devices.
While the centralized model has worked perfectly in the past decades, it will become problematic when the number of network nodes grows into the millions, generating billions of transactions, because it will exponentially increase computational requirements — and by extension the costs.
The servers can also become a bottleneck and a single point of failure, which will make IoT networks vulnerable to Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS) attacks, where servers are targeted and brought down by being flooded with traffic from compromised devices.
This can critically impact IoT ecosystems, especially as they take on more sensitive tasks.
Moreover, centralized networks will be difficult to establish in many industrial settings such as large farms, where IoT nodes will expand over wide areas with scarce connectivity gear.
Blockchain technology will enable the creation of secure mesh networks, where IoT devices will interconnect in a reliable way while avoiding threats such as device spoofing and impersonation.
With every legitimate node being registered on the blockchain, devices will easily be able to identify and authenticate each other without the need for central brokers or certification authorities, and the network will be scalable to support billions of devices without the need for additional resources.
Several companies are already putting blockchain to use to power IoT networks. One example is Filament, a startup that provides IoT hardware and software for industrial applications such as agriculture, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries.
Filament’s wireless sensors, called Taps, create low-power autonomous mesh networks that enable enterprise companies to manage physical mining operations or water flows over agricultural fields without relying on centralized cloud alternatives. Device identification and intercommunication is secured by a bitcoin blockchain that holds the unique identity of each participating node in the network.
Australian telecommunication giant Telstra is another company leveraging blockchain technology to secure smart home IoT ecosystems. Cryptographic hashes of device firmware are stored on a private blockchain to minimize verification time and obtain real-time tamper resistance and tamper detection.
Since most smart home devices are controlled through mobile apps, Telstra further expands the model and adds user biometric information to the blockchain hashes in order to tie in user identity and prevent compromised mobile devices from taking over the network. This way, the blockchain will be able to verify both the identity of IoT devices and the identity of the people interacting with those devices.
While still in its early development stages, IoT is mostly comprised of technologies that allow for data collection, remote monitoring, and control of devices. As we move forward, IoT will transition toward becoming a network of autonomous devices that can interact with each other and with their environment and make smart decisions without human intervention.
This is where blockchain can shine and form the basis that will support a shared economy based on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
We’re already seeing initiatives emerging in this field, including ADEPT(Automated Decentralized P2P Telemetry), a decentralized IoT system created by IBM and Samsung, which enables billions of devices to broadcast transactions between peers and perform self-maintenance.
The platform has been tested in several scenarios, including one that involves a smart washing machine that can automatically order and pay for detergent with bitcoins or ethers when it runs out and will be able to negotiate for the best deal through smart contracts based on its owner’s preferences.
As the backbone of all of these interactions, blockchain creates a secure and democratized platform that is independent and levels the field for all involved parties, making sure everyone plays fair and no single entity is in control.
Blockchain will also enable data monetization, where owners of IoT devices and sensors can share the generated IoT data in exchange for real-time micropayments. Tilepay, for example, offers a secure, decentralized online marketplace where users can register their devices on the blockchain and sell their data in real-time in exchange for digital currency.
Blockchain and IoT also have interesting use cases that can help make renewable energy sources mainstream, where energy produced by IoT solar panels generates cryptocurrency value that is registered on the blockchain. Anyone joining the network can make investments in renewable energy technology. Organizations such as Nasdaq and Chain of Things, a think tank that conducts research on alternative applications for blockchain and IoT, are exploring this field.
Blockchain presents many promises for the future of IoT. Challenges still remain, such as consensus models and the computational costs of verifying transactions. But we are still in the early stages of blockchain development, and these hurdles will eventually be overcome, opening the path for many exciting possibilities.
Korean startup prevents fire with the power of IoT
Nare IoT Lab's ArcLow module
Internet of Things (IoT) isn't just about flashy gadgets. Affordable modules, networks, and technology offer innovative and cost-effective new systems in the backend and infrastructure that can protect properties and human lives.
South Korean startup Nare IoT Lab's Prevention System for Electrical Arc Fires is one such example that will be on the rise. Nare's system can distinguish between a harmless electrical arc and a dangerous arc that can cause fires in livestock farms.
PROTECTING LIVESTOCK FROM ARC FIRES
An arc fault is a high-power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors. Conductors, which are supposed to be isolated from each other, can meet due to damage to wires or loose connections, common in outdoor settings such as livestock farms.
The discharge translates into heat, which can break down the wire's insulation and possibly trigger an electrical fire. According to the National Fire Data System run by South Korea's Ministry of Public Safety and Security, out of 42,135 fires in the country in 2014, 22 percent were caused by electricity. Out of the 9,445 fires caused by electricity, 76 percent were caused by arc faults.
Nare's ArcLow module detects the formation of arcs. If it deems the arc to have high heat --enough to cause fire -- it sends a warning to the owner's smartphone, and he or she can choose to turn off the power grid in the area where the arc has formed. An alarm also goes off in the area, and each incident is saved on a big database for future reference.
CEO Choi Seoung Wook has been working in security, including fire prevention, since 2007. Before the rise of smartphones, he worked on installing security cameras on farms, factories, automobiles, and private homes, and built systems where pictures and status updates were sent in a text on feature phones.
"The rise Internet of Things was an opportunity for us. Affordable modules and network fees allow vendors like us to create more sophisticated systems cheaply," said Choi. SK Telecom, the country's largest wireless operator, launched an IoT-dedicated networkbased on LoRa standard this July, which costs only 2,000 won per 100MB data for clients.
The firm has clinched a deal with a Japanese firm to supply the ArcLow modules as an OEM. The next plan is to export the solution to Europe and Asia.
Choi shows the ArcLow Module which can be packaged to a customer's liking.
Before Nare IoT Lab, Choi founded Nare Trends, which, starting in 2012, provided farms with an intelligent livestock management system. His interest in providing farms with IoT systems grew from a family business of sorts: Choi's father-in-law owned a peach farm where he frequented.
"I visited the farm regularly, so I naturally found out about their concerns over security, fire and managing inventory," said the CEO. On many occasions, his father-in-law complained about being robbed. So Choi installed cameras for him. His idea for a smart farm business grew from there.
The business, now branded Banditbool, which means "firefly" in Korean, has 500 farms as customers and provides a total IT system for management and security. Choi's team installs CCTV and sensors that detect temperature, power, water supply, humidity, ammonia levels, CO2 levels, invaders, and arc faults (ArcLow). All the sensors are controlled though a main controller unit that allows the owners to view the status through their smartphones and collect data for inventory management.
The business was awarded the best IoT business in 2015 by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. It is being applied in all areas of farming, including chicken, pig, and cow farming, as well as greenhouses. Nare was chosen as a recipient of SK Telecom's Advanced, Ace, Agriculture Venture Star (AVS) program, which chooses technology startups that work in smart farm areas.
The arch fire system is being separately marketed to export globally, while Choi plans to continue expanding the lucrative smart farm business in South Korea, though he continues to mull over creating synergy between the two solutions to develop new services.
"The arc fire system as a separate business has a wider applicability, so we want to focus it more globally," said the CEO. "Internet of Things infrastructure is expanding, while network fees and modules are becoming more and more affordable."
Farmers are on tight budgets, Choi said, and cheaper network fees allow such industries to afford new IT services.
"I have no doubt we, and other emerging IoT businesses, will find new opportunity locally as well as globally."