Boston startup aims to revolutionize public safety by tapping into iot devices – siliconangle gas 2 chainz


The chaos that engulfs the scene of a mass shooting is often the gunman’s best friend. First responders lose precious minutes trying to determine the location of the shooter. In the scramble to get out the doors, some people tragically run into the path of the assailant. Caught by surprise, victims may be unable to bar the doors and move to safe areas.

Intelligent devices and data analytics may play an important future role in minimizing casualties in events such as these. Boston-based Armored Things Inc. hopes someday to revolutionize public safety by giving organizations real-time visibility into the movement of people and things by tapping into and federating networks of smart devices.

The process doesn’t necessarily involve installing new equipment or retrofitting networks. In many cases, the data are already there waiting to be tapped, said Chris Lord, Armored Things’ chief technology officer and former head of research and development at Carbon Black Inc.

For example, the location of smart phones can be tracked by Wi-Fi routers, even if the phones aren’t connected. Aggregating and interpreting that data could, for example, enable security administrators to detect such anomalies as a crowd forming or people moving more rapidly than usual through a public space, which might indicate a threat. They could then respond before the 911 calls started coming in.

Armored Things intends to do a lot more than monitor cell phones. It’s working with developers of devices such as cameras and sound sensors to build algorithms that can pick up abnormal movement caught on video or loud sounds and alert human operators to a potential problem. Ultimately, the company wants to tie in smart devices such as emergency lighting, public-address systems and access control equipment to enable security administrators to define automated responses to emergency situations.

“You might have motion sensors, access control systems and wireless infrastructure in your environment,” Lord said. “All these things are used for specific purposes now, but nothing is trying to correlate and connect the data across all of them.” Pinpointing shooters

In the case of the shooter, such integration could save lives on a massive scale, said company President Julie Johnson. For example, an audio gunshot sensor could pinpoint the location of a shooter and instantaneously send the information to emergency responders. Automatic door locks could be engaged to minimize the assailant’s movements while lighted guidance systems could quickly escort people to safe exits.

The technology also lends itself to more routine applications, such as traffic management. Johnson cited the example of one sports team that experienced a crush of 20,000 fans who showed up late for a live video showing of the seventh game of the World Series in the opponent’s stadium when it became apparent that their team might win. Unprepared for the surge, management turned the fans away.

“Seeing a significant uptick in that number of people coming into your environment should immediately prompt you to ask what’s different about this situation? How do I tie in my resources, my security personnel and my responders so that we’re not closing the gate?” Johnson said.

Armored Things’ technology is still in development, with an initial release planned for late this year, but the company has no shortage of prospects waiting in the wings. It has had interest from several large U.S. universities, as well as a number of professional sports teams. The company is initially targeting public safety applications, but it sees opportunity in any situation involving the coordination of people and equipment on a large scale.

And it has assembled an all-star team to tackle the challenge. Chief Executive Charles Curran is an 18-year venture capital veteran with numerous successful exits to his credit. Chief Data Officer Clare Bernard holds a Ph.D. in particle physics from Boston University and was part of the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN team that is credited with discovering the Higgs boson particle.

In a tech industry that has come under fire for its low representation of women, it’s worth noting that more than half of Armored Things’ leadership team is female. “It’s been helpful to have younger women coming in who see a path forward to executive roles in their company,” Johnson said. “That’s something that can’t be underestimated.”