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Can the military arm itself with the "Internet of Things"?

Andy Uhler Nov 10, 2015
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Can the military arm itself with the "Internet of Things"?

Andy Uhler Nov 10, 2015
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Smart phones can do a lot of things these days. They can start the toaster in the morning or turn off a house’s heat. When connecting anything to the internet, it can make it more functional, but also more vulnerable. This is part of the reason branches of the U.S. military have not been early adopters when it comes to the so-called “Internet of Things.”

A group of academics and military officials met in Washington D.C. to discuss a report written by the Center for Strategic and International Studies called “Leveraging the Internet of Things for a More Efficient and Effective Military.” 

Denise E. Zheng, one of the authors, said she and her colleagues looked at ways the U.S. military could be more cost-efficient by incorporating more technology.

“The sort of normal consumer person of today has a lot more capability on their smart phone than what the soldier has on his smart phone,” she said.

She also said it depends on where that soldier is deployed. In some regions, the internet is hard to come by. And officials worry the soldier’s data could get into the wrong hands.

Kevin Ashton, a tech entrepreneur who coined the term, “Internet of Things,” said data breach concerns are real, but might be a bit overblown.

“Security is a real concern but it’s an excuse not to integrate systems,” he said. “It’s not a reason not to integrate systems.”

The Defense Department continues to drive a lot of technological innovation. But it can be resistant to change. And adopting new technology takes money.

Sanjay Sarma, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said there’s no real hold up, but this is a high level decision. 

“It’s always easier to sell a pain killer than a vitamin,” he said. “And this is a vitamin. In other words, it pays off in 10 years.”

It could pay off in 10 years, if the Defense Department gets started now.

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