Note after initial posting:

I received a negative comment, with regards to the timing of this blog post.  In response, I want to reiterate/add a few points:

  • I had absolutely no intention to “Ambulance-chase” with this posting, in fact, I initially wrote it out of anger (at 2:00 am in the morning, ironically).  It was a very scathing post, as this hit close to home.  One day, I hope to finish a marathon, and welcome the chance to have my family there to see me finish.   It is most long-distance runner’s dream to run in Boston, and I immediately related to the tragedy more than most.
  • The initial post, which I revised the following morning, showed a lot of anger towards officials of the race and those responsible for securing such a public event as they had failed to use readily-available M2M technology to help prevent such an attack.  What I write about below is not leading-edge technology, but rather actions being done every day around the world.
  • In the end, I decided to tone down the post, and instead, I wanted to provide information that could be used.  As I mentioned, I don’t care where you buy it from...
  • It was never my intention to offend anyone, and my thoughts go out to those who are affected by this tragedy.  I hope that I have provided some thoughts to those who are responsible for security at not only future races, but in other large gathering areas that may be used in the future, to ensure we never have such an event again.
  • Finally, my criticisms towards the officials do not apply to the front-line responders, who showed incredible courage in the darkest hour.  We OWE better tools to them if we are asking them to risk their lives for our safety.

I’d like to tell you that this blog post was written a long time ago, and it was just a coincidence that we are posting it less than 24 hours after the senseless attacks in Boston.  However, that would not be true. 

Like many people (albeit for different reasons), yesterday’s attack in Boston hit close to my heart, as my family has been at the finish line for a few races that I have completed over the years.  The idea that such a joyous family event (running a Boston Marathon is a great lifetime milestone for many runners around the world) can be affected in a way as tragic as this is still too much for me to fully comprehend. 

While my heart goes out to the families of those who were affected, and to the people in the Boston area in general, it rings home a key point....we need to do everything we can to prevent such an attack from happening in the future.  While I think most people agree that the Intelligence community would play a huge role in keeping things safe, there is no doubt that M2M solutions can provide key pieces of data from remote locations, which will help to both thwart future attacks as well as to give time for things such as evacuations and diffusion.

Mobile video

It is true that CCTV (closed circuit TV) is just about everywhere....just about.  Most permanent high traffic areas (airports, malls, etc) are blanketed with video surveillance, as are many city neighborhoods.  However, events such as road races, skiing events and many others often have limited (if any) surveillance, mainly due to the inability to feed back the data with traditional landlines.  Many forward-thinking mobile video solutions allow for not only the ability to record/transmit video from remote locations but are also placed inside of containers/structures that hide the presence of a video unit all together....such as inside of a window mounted air conditioning unit.  This would be ideal for quick deployments, such as for a road race.

Video analytics

Having a video feed is a great thing, however, when you have thousands of people at a particular site, it can be virtually impossible to distinguish the activity of an individual person / object....how long has someone been standing there....how long has that package been there....is anyone there who should not be (such as known criminals)?  Advanced video solutions use algorithms to track both the presence and length of time in place for objects such as backpacks and briefcases.  Used in airports for years, these solutions now have the backhaul speeds in today’s LTE networks to truly be efficient in a mobile/temporary environment.  As well, facial recognition software is only as accurate as the database that it is using to draw images from, so having a real-time feed to equipment in the field helps to increase its overall effectiveness. 

Weight and activity sensors for key items

From my understanding, most of the mailboxes along routes of major races are closed off for a period of time before the race.  As well, most manhole covers are sealed shut as well.  Whether they are or not, it would be great for the Postal Service / Works department to know what is going on in these containers/openings.  Temporary monitoring solutions (through pressure pads in the mail boxes and sensors to note if a manhole is disturbed) would alert authorities of unusual activity (such as a non-standard package being inside of a mailbox).  It can also be used to keep track of any unusually large/bulky items placed n most trash bins close to a sensitive area (such as where a dignitary or VIP would be sitting).

Temporary command posts

Sure, these definitely are not new.....but LTE makes them much better.  LTE offers an extraordinary amount of low-latency bandwidth in so many key areas now.  This means that there is faster access to key pieces of information, more remote video feeds, better ability to do VoIP and so much more. 

One great advance in the world of wireless is the ability to set up quick, large-area mobile hotspots.  Many solutions allow for these networks to be many square miles in size, offer long-term battery life for deployments that do not have access to power and can even be deployed from airplanes via parachute!

Bottom line

I think we need to use all of the tools available to prevent these tragedies from happening again.  First responders risked their lives in Boston to ensure that everyone was safe AFTER everything happened.  I think we owe it to them to give them the tools that they need to STOP these senseless acts.  I encourage anyone who is responsible for making decisions about safety to reach out to me directly.  I look forward to providing you with the information that you need.....regardless of where you may plan to buy.

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs.  You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly via email to larry(@)novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).

PS Part 2 of my blog titled "Private Radio Data Networks: Top 7 Reasons the Tide is Turning" will be posted tomorrow...