Sprayed with liquid that is invisible to the naked eye, perpetrators can then be identified using UV light and linked directly back to the crime scene
Since 5G first began to enter the public spot light, around the start of 2020, conspiracy theorists have begun to emerge. With theories ranging from 5G radiation’s negative impact on public health (a claim which has been disputed numerous times) to linking the new technology to Bill Gates and the coronavirus, these conspiracy theorists have on the whole been loud yet benign.
However, there have been some notable incidents of 5G mast vandalism, especially in the UK and the Netherlands, as well as staff themselves being harassed and even attacked in some cases. This is of course, unacceptable.
Now, the security company SmartWater has announced that it has extended its long relationship with Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), a company jointly owned by EE and Three, to protect their mast infrastructure. In their previous work with MBNL, SmartWater has helped reduce the theft of metal and cable assets by 77%.
SmartWater’s SmartSpray solution sprays those attempting to interfere with the equipment, dousing them with an invisible liquid with a unique identifying code. Later, working alongside the police, the liquid can be identified using specific UV light, helping link suspects directly to specific criminal damage.
SmartWater boasts a 100% conviction rate and their participation, it is hoped, will greatly reduce the amount of damage done to crucial connectivity infrastructure.
“At SmartWater we understand the importance of connectivity and the value of communication, we are proud of the work we have done to help the telecoms industry protect itself against criminal behaviour,” said Gary Higgins, COO of SmartWater. “Anyone attacking MBNL mast sites now…run[s] the risk of being forensically linked to the scene of their crime.”
That the operators are beginning to take action to defend their infrastructure from criminal damage is no surprise, but it should be remembered that this solution does not address the underlying problem of widely circulated misinformation. Groups precipitating these conspiracy theories are still very much a prominent force in our society – indeed, this weekend it was announced that once such group had managed to crowdfund over £100,000 in order to hire a barrister in an attempt to take the UK government to court.
This issue of misinformation is not going away and will continue to be a thorn in operators’ side as they try to complete their wider rollouts of the new technology. Until operators can find a way to tackle the misinformation at the heart of the 5G conspiracy theories, deployment progress is always going to be threatened.