These last few months have seen yet another spike in terrorist activities in the West, especially now that we’re heading into the long, hot summer months. Terrorist activities in the UK especially are on the up and the authorities are looking for ways to respond.

It’s clear that old-fashioned methods, like simply carrying a self-defense knife no matter the quality, just aren’t going to cut it. Terrorists have moved on and become a lot more sophisticated in their approach - using things like encrypted messaging apps to organize their activities.

But, as readers of this blog know well, technology is a game of cat and mouse. There's technology and counter-technology. With each new technology comes a response.

So how is tech being leveraged to fight terrorism? Let’s take a look.

Machine Learning In Video Analytics

CCTV is a great tool for identifying the perpetrators of a crime. But what if video doesn’t catch them in the act? Well, the old way of using video evidence was to use snippets of video footage from all over an area - combing through it to find anything that might be suspicious. Using humans, that was a painstaking process and not particularly reliable.

Wikipedia

Now though, machine learning video analytics firms, like BriefCam, are offering a way for the authorities to find missing links in video evidence and look for patterns which might identify subjects. Using machine learning algorithms which only focus on things which have changed in a video snippet, rather than processing all the data, they are able to identify potential terrorist activity.

This was how the FBI pinpointed the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. They collected enough data using machine learning video analytics to identify suspicious behaviors, track down the perpetrators and find additional evidence used to convict them.

High-Strength Ballistic Curtains

Given the evolving threats from terrorists, just giving law enforcement weapons and body armor isn’t enough. They need something that’s more comprehensive and offers protection from blasts as well as bullets.

BlastTac has details about a new type of blankets designed to protect officers on the front lines. The blankets are meant to be used in areas at risk of explosions, like airport security.

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)

Virtual private networks, VPNs, are a crucial technology in the fight against terrorism. Essentially, a VPN is a private network which allows people to use the internet without being tracked. In terror-prone countries, people use VPNs to search for the information they want and avoid detection by the authorities.

Wikimedia Commons

Recently, western authorities and organizations have realized that facilitating VPNs might be a way to undermine terrorist activities. Making it possible for people to speak out online and become dissidents could help foment a rebellion or non-compliance among the local population, starving terrorist organisations of their manpower.

According to Sagi Gidali, the founder of a popular VPN service, his company has already been involved in campaigns to bring knowledge of VPNs to countries with oppressive regimes, like Azerbaijan. Giving people privacy while also allowing them to communicate effectively might just be the best tool we have to fight terrorism.