What is the Value of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the federal mission?
This question was the topic of discussion for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) during a breakfast panel earlier this month in Bethesda, Maryland.
Panelists from the National Institute of Standards, Departments of State and Veterans Affairs (VA) and DHS’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate First Responders Group provided insights and examples of how this evolving technology is being applied. S&T’s Jeff Booth suggested that, “the value of IoT is yet to be defined.” However, its real time operational and data exchange capabilities can be applied to many areas that first responders support.
“My community is first responders. Firefighters have four minutes to get into a building to assess where potential life may be. They have only 20 minutes of life in their oxygen tanks. Real time data exchange is critical at that point,” Booth told the audience of 200 people.
Booth’s comments were echoed by the Director of the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dr. Chris Greer.
Greer defined IoT as a platform of systems, with the ability to exploit IoT capabilities being a main driver. According to Greer, this main driver is interoperability; in order to attain it, new standards must be developed to advance its value.
The panel also showcased how the government is applying IoT technology.
Senior Arms Control Adviser for the Department of State, Brian Nordmann, said they currently use mobile phone technology to measure and alert people about the air pollution in China. Additionally, the accelerometers on some mobile phones can help create seismographs, which can be used to detect underground nuclear tests.
VA Senior Enterprise Solutions Architect Aaron Drew said IoT could help the VA better treat patients. As part of a VA pilot program, sleep apnea patients use oxygen masks, which notify their physician when their breathing stops in the middle of the night.
Despite its vast contributions and potential enhancements to various government missions, the panelists also agreed there are challenges that come with the IoT, such as privacy of information and civil liberties. As with anything else, laws will also have to keep up with the changing technology.