Could IoT Provide Gun Control?
We’re number 1: At first that's good, a catchy slogan that could form the background of any presidential campaign. Unfortunately, the study by associate professor Adam Lankord at the University of Alabama, investigated which country had the most mass shootings between 1966 through 2012 and the United States far exceeded its peers with a whopping 90 mass shootings (not including the most recent incidents beyond the study's cut-off date).
The right to bear arms is hot topic in our society; many polls show a slight majority of the American public leaning towards the Second Amendment. So, for a moment, let’s take getting rid of guns off the table and think outside the box. Let's turn off our pro- or anti-gun sentiments and click on our tech knowledge.
One idea slowly garnishing interest and influence is GPS tracking in guns. This is not a new idea. The federal government has been experimenting with using wireless Nano and GPS technologies to track, disrupt, and even self-destruct firearms for at least two years. The project – known as micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) – utilizes Nano devices created by engineers that can affect a weapon’s operation. MEMS capabilities could be built into U.S. weapons within three to five years and the market for this technology would be around $1.1 billion dollars, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
With a market this large, the government isn’t the only player in the firearms technology game. Portman Security Systems, a manufacturer of GPS tracking devices, announced a program called WITS (Weapons Intelligent Tracking System) back in 2008. WITS can detect when a weapon has been drawn, discharged, knows how many rounds were fired, the trajectory of the bullets, and whether any hostile firearms were nearby.
Last but definitely not least is built-in safety technology. GunBox, which manufactures "smart" gun safes uses fingerprints and RFIDs to unlock and lock an owner's gun safe. It also has the ability to send alerts to the owner if a gun is taken from its case.
These are only three examples of technologies that add a layer of security and, in my opinion, provide us with brief glimpses into alternative ways to combat the gun violence that has stricken our nation. Should law-abiding citizens have to forfeit their rights and the ability to protect themselves? No. Should mentally challenged individuals be allowed to walk around with guns? No. Unfortunately the argument thus far has been an either or option and I believe technology opens that debate up and presents us with alternative means to be a safe society.
The Internet of Things is projected to connect 212 billion things by 2020, according to IDC. What if some of those "things" included weapons? Granted, some heavy pro-gun advocates will worry about privacy – but that's already an integral concern about IoT and their fears will surely be addressed along with the swathe of worries by people concerned about healthcare trackers, smart refrigerators and thermostats, and driverless cars? The same governance that must rule how this data is used (or not used), sold (or not sold) could certainly surround smart guns and smart garage doors.
After all, why isn’t there already a GPS chip in all guns? For example, if an owner's GPS-chipped gun enters a location and the owner doesn’t have a carry permit wouldn’t it be great if that weapon automatically could be disabled or – at the very least – alert law enforcement. If you’re a parent and your child takes your gun, wouldn’t it be great if the weapon itself sends you an alert before something tragic happens.
The technology is here, the question now is why isn’t anyone talking about it?
Rasheen A. Whidbee has been in the information technology field for over 10 years and he's also founder of UrbanMovement.org which is a non-profit focused on helping other non-profits and individuals through technology. Follow him on Twitter @rwhidbee