With Donald Trump waiting in the wings as US president-elect, Dr Bob Griffin of the US Department of Homeland Security believes the internet of things (IoT) will be a game-changer for securing the country’s borders.

While likely to seen as a potential ‘Big Brother’ policy in the making, the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Dr Bob Griffin sees it as being a “game-changer” for securing the US borders, but also for within its borders.

Griffin was speaking at IoT World Europe in Dublin last November as the DHS’s deputy undersecretary for science and technology, where he was heralding the role of IoT in civil defence.

Imagine, for example, the governmental administration of New York being able to predict the spread of a flu epidemic, by analysing data that shows vitamin C tablet sales and pharmacy visits have experienced a sharp increase in one area?

This isn’t an easy process by any means, Griffin explained. Typically, IoT is like trying to drink water from a fire hose, whereby a powerful stream of data is being created, but so little of it can be used.

Equally important as making use of this data is ensuring it remains protected from any potential online hazards, particularly after major incidents like the Mirai botnet attack and allegations that electoral errors occurred in key swing states in the US election.

These vulnerabilities were recently highlighted in a report on IoT issued by the DHS that stressed the consequences of an insecure network are “too high, given the potential for harm to our critical infrastructure, our personal privacy, and our economy”.

“Part of the challenge and opportunity of IoT is that we have the ability to link systems in ways that we haven’t in the past,” Griffin said in conversation with Siliconrepublic.com.

Words by Colm Gorey