We’ve all heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), but not everyone knows exactly what it is and how it can assist in the delivery of digital government services.
Due to the changes that are arising from innovations in technology, citizens everywhere are evolving from passive recipients of top-down government services to empowered participants. Government’s across the globe are increasingly experiencing rising expectations for greater citizen engagement and easier access to government services.
This post outlines what IoT is, and how governments can harness it to leverage their investments into e-government initiatives.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things can be defined as a network of physical objects that can communicate via embedded technology that have the ability to sense changes and adapt conditions. Many cities across the globe have jumped on the opportunity to create efficiencies by utilising IoT.
IoT has been growing in leaps and bounds because the size and cost of sensors and communications technologies that form its networks are steadily declining. Basically anyone with a smart phone and in-puts data is contributing to the development of IoT.
What are the benefits of IoT in the public sector?
In 2013, Cisco predicted that IoT would create great opportunities for the public sector in five main areas; employee productivity, connected militarised defence, cost reduction, citizen experience and increased revenue.
If the correct infrastructure is in place, IoT can help governments attain greater economic growth and improvements to environmental sustainability, public safety, security and productivity. Other areas where the IoT can help with city management are:
- Traffic management
- Water allocation
- Garbage collection
- Public lighting control
Earlier this year, Dell announced the opening of its Internet of Things lab in Singapore to speed up the connection of legacy systems to cloud computing-based ones.
For those who have followed Singapore’s journey, their goal is to create a Smart Nation that runs on open data fuelled by IoT.
What are the challenges?
Although IoT has been around for the past 5-6 years through technology innovations such as smart watches, smart TV’s, and fitness trackers, many people find the idea confusing to grasp.
In turn, there is still a lag in the uptake of IoT within the public and private sector, as they struggle to integrate evolving technology into business information and analytics systems.
IoT creates a trove of data, and although it can yield great results in healthcare, transportation, security, and defence, it is a challenge for governments to stay abreast of the ever-changing advancements in technology and in turn it is difficult to regulate around these changes.
Further, IoT projects are easy to imagine and design, but implementing them is another story. Who controls and pays for the project? And how do you measure direct benefits if the project is a joint venture between two departments?
It will also be important for government departments to establish rules and guidelines around user privacy and standards within the IoT ecosystem. More often than not, because there are so many elements involved in an IoT ecosystem, not all solutions from competing providers will be compatible.
Despite these challenges, there are many public sector programs around the world that demonstrate that the IoT can help governments optimise costs and avoid waste. As these challenges are addressed, more government departments will look to IoT to help deliver better government services that meet the needs of citizens. The next five years in IoT will be interesting to watch.
We'd love to hear about IoT projects that you think have been successful in the public sector. Let us know by commenting below or emailing us and we'll make it our next post.