UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


New video on technology-facilitated abuse in the context of the smart home

22 June 2020

The Gender and IoT (GIoT) research team at UCL have launched a new video to highlight the impact “smart”, Internet-connected devices can have on victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse


Since 2017, the Gender and IoT (GIoT) research team has been at the forefront of examining the adverse effects Internet of Things (IoT) technologies may have on victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. IoT is an “umbrella term” and includes Internet-connected products and services such as “smart” lightbulbs, locks or thermostats. As the number of Internet-connected devices grows, with estimates suggesting that the number of devices connected to the Internet will rise from approximately 9 billion in 2018 to about 25 billion in 2025, the GIoT team aspires to use their research to help prevent harm posed by the misuse of smart systems.

Under the lead of Dr Leonie Maria Tanczer, the team studies the risks IoT devices create, anticipates future perils, and analyses the possible social as well as technical measures needed to stop the occurrence of such forms of technology-facilitated abuse. In close collaboration with the London VAWG Consortium, the PETRAS IoT Hub and Privacy International, the team has published parts of their findings and released public information materials such as a guide, resource list, and numerous policy briefings.

This video summarises this work to date, and is published as the Domestic Abuse Bill completes its committee stage in Parliament. 

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/wgBgj1_uwgs


The video was made as part of a research communications project, funded by the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and produced with support from the UCL Media Production team. It offers insight into the range of activities that the GIoT team engages with, including the testing of IoT devices, the delivery of training for support services, as well as the collaboration with national and international stakeholders in research, industry, policy and practice. The filming happened during 2019 at UCL, IDEALondon, and the Hackney VAWG Practitioners Forum.

Dr Leonie Maria Tanczer, Principal Investigator of the GIoT Project, is delighted to see the clip published:

"We have been really active over the last two years and are dedicated to contributing to a better understanding of the changes that technology-facilitated abuse is undergoing. Conveying our work in an engaging and hopefully clear way and to raise awareness on this pressing issue is really key for us and especially important for the communities we serve and work with."

Dr Simon Parkin, Co-Investigator of the GIoT Project from UCL Computer Science, said:

"The GIoT project represents a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the complex issues around consumer IoT devices and their potential implications in tech-abuse. The new video sums up key points in our journey through the project so far, and highlights where evidence-based research can continue to engage with a variety of stakeholders to understand and address key challenges."

The GIoT team has worked closely with the UK support sector throughout the projects, showcased by the involvement of Hackney’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Service (DAIS) in the video. Eleonora Serafini, VAWG Specialist Practitioner, DAIS, said:

"Internet and smart technologies are increasingly being used by perpetrators of domestic abuse as a means of exerting coercive control. As highlighted by Lesley Weber, there is the urgent need to pay attention to this phenomenon, raise awareness among local professional networks and promote collaboration around tech abuse between experts from the technology and VAWG sectors."

The GIoT is continuing their research in this space. Interested colleagues can stay up to date with the work by signing up for the GIoT newsletter.

For further media inquiries, please contact UCL STEaPP’s Communication and Marketing Manager Siobhan Pipa (s.pipa[at]ucl.ac.uk).