IoT Puts Superheroes out of Business

By Gregg Abbate, key account manager

From their superpowers and background to what made them choose the life of a caped crusader, every superhero’s story is unique. However, the driving commonality between all superheroes is that they all ‘do good’ – fighting crimes, saving citizens, taking on natural disasters, and more – all for their city and community. Each superhero’s distinct story arc gives us a view of ‘big city life’ from one extreme to another, as well as how our favorite heroes take on these unique metropolitan challenges. From street level crimes, ranging from a mugging to a full-scale jewelry heist, to rescuing an old lady crossing the street from a speeding truck, superheroes can respond to these emergencies faster and more effectively than first responders. Additionally, they can do it non-lethally, meaning they reduce the risk of injury and death to firefighters and police officers, bystanders and the perpetrators. Still, the question must be asked: what if IoT technology became so advanced it created the ultimate ‘smart city’, making superheroes obsolete?

Let’s first take a look at the crimes currently faced in cities, and how some of our favorite superheroes would handle these issues:

  • Robbery and Theft
    One of Spiderman’s most unique and prominent powers is his “spider-sense,” which is a tingling sensation that alerts him to imminent danger. The greater the danger or his overall proximity to it increases the tingling sensation. With most robberies and thefts, although there are alarm systems and security in place, the thieves can flee the scene because of the time it takes for police to arrive. However, thanks to his unique ability, Spiderman can be onsite at the scene of the crime before the robbery even takes place. This enables him to nip the crime in the bud, thwarting the potential danger before the thieves can escape.
  • Violence
    We all know Batman’s superpower is his intellect and wealth of cool technological gadgets that allow him to fight crime in Gotham. For instance, when faced with a hoard of criminals, Batman’s Batmobile often comes plowing through to help break up the fight and sweep the hero to safety. The Batmobile is not just a remote starter vehicle, however; Batman can drive the car with his voice. Another vital gadget that helps Batman fight crime in Gotham is the Bat Computer housed in his Batcave. It serves as a digital database, keeping records of everything from fingerprints to facial recognition software, and spits out information on gangs and criminals at lighting speed. While Batman is one of the smartest superheroes in the DC universe, he definitely has a lot of help from his collection of crime-fighting gadgets.

  • Kidnappings
    Once a kidnapping occurs, it’s often very difficult to track down both the perpetrator and the victim. This is due to perpetrators going to great lengths to cover their tracks, from the immediate transfer of the victim from the ‘point of attack’ to a more secure and isolated location, to vehicle changes and disguises. Luckily, for citizens of Metropolis, Superman has the ability of flight, super speed, x-ray vision, telescopic as well as microscopic vision, and super hearing on his side to help him track down kidnappers and their victims in the blink of an eye. This is an especially good thing for Superman, as his love interest, Lois Lane, is often kidnapped or placed in dangerous scenarios where Superman must rescue her.

Sadly, superheroes and their extraordinary powers do not exist in our reality. However, with how advanced IoT technology is becoming, we can now mimic these very abilities and reap the benefits of a superhero via “smart cities.” Many city administrators are implementing IoT technology from the roads to skyscrapers and public transportation, to lower crime and ultimately improve the quality of life for citizens.

Here are seven ways in which smart technology and cities will put superheroes out of business:

  1. Artificial Intelligence to Predict Peak Crime Hours
    Predictive technology can create and conduct a “heat map” to monitor the flow of people. The addition of predictive accumulated big data can be used in conjunction with these displays of when and where law abiding citizens congregate. Then, using data from what has happened in the past, can predict when crime will happen again. This will be able to alert police enforcement to where people congregate at different times of the day, effectively forecasting the most likely times crime will occur.
  2. License Plate Recognition
    Artificial Intelligence can also grab license plate details from static locations, such as lamp posts, stoplights and mobile locations like cameras and sensors on municipal vehicles – busses, tow trucks, city vehicles and ambulances. This will allow a city to monitor patterns and detect any unusual behaviors or locate a stolen or lost vehicle.
  3. Facial Recognition

    Installing facial recognition technology at ATMs, busy intersections, “bad neighborhoods” and high-crime areas can increase the city police’s ability to track and capture criminals or missing persons.

  4. Gun Shot Detection

    New surveillance technology installed in lampposts, roofs and buildings will be able to triangulate gunfire within 10 feet of where the shooting took place, determining how many shooters there are before police enforcement arrives on the scene. This is key, as it’s often very difficult for first responders to determine where a gunshot originated from and how dangerous the situation might be.

  5. Remote Monitoring Centers
    Remote video monitoring centers, or the use of video cameras and analytics, are creating a more reliable security system network. Instead of a police car physically patrolling a neighborhood, the station can be alerted to a specific event in a designated area via the remote monitoring center.
  6. GPS and City Information Kiosks
    GPS and smart city kiosks are going to replace static signage across cities. These new devices will help keep law abiding citizens safe by ensuring they never get lost, can remotely call and speak to the police and provide charging stations for mobile tech.
  7. MaaS
    Mobility as a service (MaaS) describes a shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation, to mobility provided as a service. This is enabled by combining transportation services from public and private providers through a unified gateway that creates and manages the trip. Users can pay for MaaS via single account, whether it’s per trip or a monthly fee for a limited distance. The key concept behind MaaS is to offer travelers mobility solutions, based on their travel needs. Specialist urban mobility applications are also expanding their offerings to enable MaaS, such as Transit, Uber and Lyft. Through MaaS, a city becomes more efficient and safer, minimizing the number of cars and traffic congestion that can cause accidents.

Recent IoT advancements are allowing “smart cities” to flourish, eliminating the challenges associated with working in a city and helping to significantly reduce crime and violence. The use of deep learning and cloud computing allows for the gathering, management and utilization of big data. Using AI referencing in conjunction with IoT technology will help make cities smarter and safer for everyone. IoT technology is going to continue advancing safe city life, through the use of unmanned autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, of not only packages but even organs from hospital to hospital, and more. It’s safe to say that smart cities are the new superhero!

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