Internet of Things (IoT) - Making Us Safer


Internet of Things - from Wikipedia:
The Internet of Things (IoT), also called Internet of Everything, is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the production, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure of International Telecommunication Union's Global Standards Initiative. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
Can the IoT make us safer? For example, prevent gas explosions? See recent East Village Gas Explosion and Images of NYC Gas Explosions.

Project Description

Most important is to read last semester's technical paper [1] because this work will be continued this semester.

Your customer works for a utility company and she wants to investigate the security concerns in IoT and pinpoint a key area that is affected by way of threats, gaps or possibly deficiencies. Her focus is on wireless sensors used in gas/odor detectors to track leaks in homes, businesses, pipelines, or other related industries.

Your customer is interested in the possibility of creating a wireless sensor for methane detectors that will be installed in both residential and commercial premises. She knows that these detectors are not mandatory but with proper research and development, they could become a requirement in the near future. After reviewing several conference papers and scouring the internet, she realized that the gas industry does not have methane detectors with wireless sensors embedded within the devices. With wireless sensor technology, in the event of a gas leak they would detect the odor and transmit this information to the Emergency Response Center (ERC) and possibly notify the customer via phone call, email, or text (with the ability to access to some sort of communication gateway).

We will look for appropriate sensor data, probably on the Internet - see for example, Free Big Data Sources. We will then explore the data using, for example, Big Data analytics.

Customer updated project description - 2016.

Questions to Answer

  1. Are wireless sensors secure enough to meet the demands set forth by Internet of Things? If not, what security measures should be taken to address these issues?
  2. How can we ensure that the gas readings (percentage of gas in air) transmitted through the methane detectors are legitimate readings and not by an intruder hacking the system? (See use case 2). What system should be in place to prevent push data from being manipulated? (See use case 2).
  3. Should these methane detectors be intrinsically safe?
  4. Will this methane detector have the ability to capture percent readings of gas in air or solely detect methane? With the explosive range of gas between 5% to 15% gas in air, should we add additional capabilities to detect this range?

Use Cases

  1. Implementing wireless sensor technology within methane detectors is a cause for security concerns. These sensors will be transmitting data to various servers wirelessly. One can question whether these servers can be hacked and the data manipulated by malicious sources.
  2. Gas pipes are installed to provide gas service to customers. Due to stress, weather conditions, contractor damage, and an aging infrastructure; these pipes can be compromised and crack under pressure. This will cause a leak that can possibly go undetected for a lengthy period. With the use of wireless sensors installed within the methane detectors, data can be collected and sent to the ERC for review and immediate action.
  3. There is a gas leak on a customer appliance which triggers the methane detector to transmit a report to the ERC. The ERC will dispatch a mechanic to perform a leak investigation. Due to high gas readings and inaccessibility to adjoining properties, the ERC alerts the Fire Department.

Project Steps

Your customer will work with the project team to perform the following tasks:
  1. Brainstorming project session
  2. Literture Analysis - find out what literature is available on IoT sensors, especially gas or similar types of sensors - 2 weeks
  3. Find a source of sensor data - done simultaneously with step 2. If gas sensor data is not available, find similar sensor data - e.g., thermostat data.
  4. These data will now be analyzed, probably using Big Data analytics
  5. Develop a plan - 1 week
  6. Coding - 4-6 weeks
  7. Testing - 1-2 weeks
  8. Write technical paper - interspersed with other work

Process Flow

This flowchart is a visual idea of the project. Although industry specific (somewhat narrow) focusing mostly on the Gas commodity, this process flow should be able to fit other industries.


  1. Nadime Azizi, Alecia Copeland, John Chun, Matt Ell, Khushbu Kanani, and Zuhair Khoury, Fall 2015 Technical Paper