A Portland man is facing theft charges for breaking into a woman’s car over the weekend in Troutdale, but police didn’t track him down. She did. Then they made an arrest.
I love these stories. This is the future. Whether it is a security aid to retrieve your belongings if they are stolen, or misplaced, or a tool to catch crooks, GPS is going to change our lives in many ways.
More and more low cost tracking devices will be available very soon at prices that make them affordable for tracking everything from your pet, your guitar, through to members of your family that have special needs or health conditions.
You can find countless posts i my blogs of Police or citizens hiding GPS in hay bales, on livestock (I read just the other day that sheep were being stolen on a regular basis in New Zealand) in bait vehicles and more. What an easy way to catch criminals. The stories I like the best are where the GPS in the bait vehicle or item of goods lead Police to caches of stolen goods, not just to retrieve the item that they planted. I suspect that thieves, once they have successfully completed their first crime, will quickly become recidivists if they feel it was easy to get away with.
What frustrates me right now is that I know that within 2-3 years, you will be able to go to a Vodafone outlet or electronics store and buy tracking devices of all sizes, with SIM cards and applications for your mobile phone. As they capitalize on an easy market, these devices will start reasonably expensive, unless you go on a 2 year contract, but before long you could be tracking your valuables living or inanimate for as little as $20 a month and getting serious premiums on your insurance policies for doing so.
In the longer term as the Internet of Things becomes more mesh network focused, the communications network will become less reliant on the telecommunications network and will be able to be activated by other systems, for example where devices talk to each other, like the car safety systems we are exploring.
Imagine you have a valuable painting. It has a RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chip in it. It knows that it has to stay within a radius of 20 yards of the RFID chip in the wall at the front door of your home. If it leaves that radius, it goes into an alarm state. It starts sending out a message saying I am (ID Code) and I am not where I am supposed to be. I belong at 16 Safe Street, phone 0865433. It doesn’t have a SIM card in it, but it can communicate to any other security RFID tag and over any public WiFi network. Within a short amount of time, that item can be found. When we get to that point, I see these devices costing perhaps in the region of $10 with a subscription to a security company based on the number of tags you buy.
I first postulated on a system like this when proposing a 2D bar code system to a health board to track patient files. It would be a simple tool for corporates and large organizations to use for asset management, but I digress because the potential has so huge. Let’s just start by making it unattractive for crooks to steal our belongings.