CISA Announces Impact of the Internet of Things on Public Safety Communications

Authors: Robert Dew and David Nolan, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

The Internet of Things (IoT) – or the network of physical devices and connectivity that enables objects to connect to one another, to the internet, and exchange data amongst themselves – presents undeniable implications for public safety communications. The life-and-death costs of not addressing the concerns of operating in an IoT environment are too high for public safety to not engage.

In response, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has developed The Internet of Things: Impact on Public Safety Communications white paper to enhance the community's understanding of how to successfully harness IoT in the public safety context.

IoT stretches the limit, scope, and reach of the traditional public safety communications capabilities. While first responders have already been adapting to IoT, CISA uses this document to provide recommendations on how information sharing, collaboration, and training will allow the community to benefit from this increased interconnection.  IoT can help public safety by providing ubiquitous network connectivity, enhanced situational awareness, process optimization, and real-time response/control of autonomous systems.  However, integrating IoT into a public safety operational framework also poses concerns regarding cybersecurity, scale, network congestion, interoperability, human impacts, and policies for IoT provisioning, priority, and data privacy.

CISA concludes that all levels of government, industry, and academia must work together to: (1) understand how public safety personnel can expeditiously and proficiently use IoT devices to carry out their missions; and (2) accelerate the process of inserting public safety requirements into IoT discussions.

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