Technology leaves profound effects on our lifestyle, our dealings with others, the tasks we perform, and the way we entertain ourselves. In the government sector, Modern technologies have expanded the ability of government agencies to provide services and organize their operations.
The new technological revolution will expand the impact of technology, helping both the private and government sectors meet the needs of customers in an unprecedented way. IoT opens the door to a new era of interaction with technology by enabling machines to work together to improve decision-making and automate mechanisms to improve people's experiences.
In the field of companies and private entities, The Internet of Things can reduce costs, enhance efficiency and simplify mechanisms, raising customer satisfaction resulting from lower prices and a better user experience. The same applies to the government sector, where the Internet of Things can be an effective tool in proactively delivering government services by providing the right person and system with the appropriate information to improve decision-making processes and organize mechanisms that result in saving taxpayers' money.
IoT technology is highly data-driven and therefore requires a dedicated network and infrastructure capable of withstanding a large number of transactions that take place simultaneously and at a frequency and continuously. Thus, Government entities must have a sufficiently robust network to support infrastructure designed to power IoT technology which ultimately leads to better government services.
About the Internet of Things
We cannot say that the Internet of Things is a new concept, Because the interaction between machine and machine has been happening for many years. However, data from these machines are usually collected and stored for subsequent data mining, limiting their value to no more than a specific monitoring unit.
But today, The machine-machine interaction has exceeded its initial goal thanks to the development of chip design and manufacturing, which in turn has led to better platforms and connectivity. These elements are presented together, Along with data analytics, A powerful solution that combines AI with automation. Imagine, for example, a vending machine that senses that one of its contents is running out and sends an alert to the inventory control system to add the supply of the machine with the necessary materials to the schedule of the driver responsible for refilling it. And if you want another example, Imagine a robotic welding arm capable of predicting when the sprocket will be damaged and sending an alert to the maintenance officer to replace it before it is damaged, preventing the production line from going to work due to a minor failure.
These examples exemplify the power of the Internet of Things to become a driving engine towards more effective and efficient operations. This applies to both the private and government sectors.
Internet of Things in Government
The uses of the Internet of Things in government work are unlimited, Government entities can leverage them to expand their reach and influence beyond traditional standards. Through the Internet of Things, these entities can provide services hundreds of light years ahead of the services they currently provide. From sensors that alert drivers of the location of empty parking spaces to weather sensors that alert snow bucket drivers to prepare them when snow accumulates.
However, The government sector is still lagging behind in implementing the Internet of Things. According to a 2015 GovLoop poll, Only 9 percent of respondents stated that their entity or organization is considering or has already used IoT technologies. More than half (61 percent) said that the entity or organization they work for has not taken the initiative to recognize or use its potential. Thirty percent said they were unsure about the answer.[e]
The same survey asked whether respondents' employers intend to use the Internet of Things in one way or another over the next three years. Only 14 percent of them answered in the affirmative, This is roughly equal to the percentage of negative respondents (10 percent). Seventy-six percent were unsure whether their entity was planning it.
However, no one can deny the advantages and benefits that IoT offers to the government sector. Research firm Gartner estimates that smart cities will use 1.1 billion connected things in 2015, rising to 9.7 billion by 2020.[ii] The impact of IoT includes the following areas in particular:
- Enhance employee productivity by increasing the effectiveness of tasks related to new and existing government services
- Enable communication between military defense activities and combat missions by improving situational awareness and enabling communication between command centers, vehicles and supplies
- Reduce costs by achieving greater employee efficiency, better capital placement and reduced operational costs
- Improving people's experience by reducing research times, improving their surroundings, and achieving better health outcomes
- Increase revenue by enhancing the ability to supply required goods and increase control and compliance
These savings entail the effective use of taxpayers' money and a more powerful and efficient government.
Examples of IoT uses in the government sector
Despite the delay of the government sector in adopting IoT technologies so far, However, some municipalities have implemented programmes using this technology and have seen its positive effects on the ground. Some examples include the "Smart Queuing" solution, which helps drivers find "smart" parking sites and "smart" garbage bins connected to the Internet to detect their condition, contributing to the development of waste collection.[iii] Other examples related to law enforcement include the use of video surveillance to protect personnel, sensors to track shootings and the automatic dispatch of police officers to the scenes. Indeed, the potential uses of the Internet of Things are very wide and almost endless. All of them also result in new opportunities for government entities to be able to provide the best customer experience in the most efficient manner. Here are some examples of current uses and potential uses of IoT:
IoT technologies are used in areas beyond the smart queuing mentioned above, These include smart parking meters that alert drivers about empty parking locations and the approaching end of the meter's queue time where drivers can choose to increase their parking time through a smartphone app. Local municipalities thus have the opportunity to balance their expenses and collect the funds due to them. While the individual feels appreciated towards this feature that avoids them getting irregularities.
In Singapore, The electronic road pricing system determines the fees according to the degree of congestion. A highway monitoring system alerts drivers about accidents or other road hazards that may disrupt vehicles. The country's taxis are also equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor congestion on the roads and ensure the smooth running of vehicles. The information from all these systems goes to the ITC Operations Control Center, which collects data and provides individuals with real-time traffic information so they can choose the most suitable route for them.[iv]
Municipalities and utility companies can use the Internet of Things to encourage customers to use the services they provide smartly. For example, homes can be equipped with smart water meters to monitor usage, sending data to the company for analysis and detection of water leaks or high consumption. The utility company also uses that information to help homeowners save money by alerting them about potential water leaks or suggesting solutions to reduce water consumption in their homes. For example, The Municipal Water Authority in East Bay, California, has saved 5 percent of water consumption by giving 10,000 customers access to an online portal to compare their consumption to households of the same size and get ideas for water conservation.[v]
Similarly, It is possible to monitor gas and electricity consumption and suggest personalized tips to help customers reduce their monthly spending. Water, gas and electricity utilities can use the data generated by all customers to measure the rate of general consumption, identify areas of high consumption, and then redirect water, gas or electricity to meet the requirements of the most consuming areas.
Applying the law:
U.S. cities strive to keep first responders – police officers, fire brigades, paramedics and others – safe in the line of community service duty. The Internet of Things (IoT) contributes to ensuring their safety by using technologies such as ShotSpotter, which detects the time of shooting and sends the location to the police station based on data received by several sensors. ShotSpotter technology is used in many major American cities such as New York, Boston, Oakland, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.[vi] The connected agencies provide assistance and support to police officers at the individual level as well. On the other hand, Wearables help police officers monitor their stress level, heartbeat and tone of voice, and alert other officers and their supervisors about unstable situations. Moreover, The sensors themselves can detect whether an officer is in a life-threatening situation, such as an injury or a heart attack.[vii]
Smart guns call for support when officers take out and fire their guns, reducing the time help arrives during dangerous situations. The data provided by these devices can be used to help officers review their response to situations and use them for future mentoring, training and development.
Other cities have taken more important steps in this area by using video cameras to monitor security, traffic and risky environments. They have been installed above traffic lights and linked together to provide a comprehensive view of what is happening for the benefit of police stations. Other cities combine the use of video technology with "smart light poles" that regulate traffic according to the degree of congestion on the roads. In 2015, GE has launched smart light poles with sensors that can be used to track the weather, record video to track traffic and pedestrian safety, or detect parking violations. The information can be sent to a cloud-based analytics platform that provides content based on circumstances such as traffic accidents. [viii]
In addition to the use of surveillance cameras to follow up on dangerous events, IoT can be employed in municipalities to become proactive in providing critical services to individuals. Seemingly simple services can be improved through the Internet of Things, reducing the waste of time and money and wasting the efforts of government sector employees. For example, Waste containers can be equipped with sensors capable of alerting public works officials that they are full. This would reduce the time workers spend manually inspecting containers to determine what to unload.
Weather sensors can be installed in different locations to monitor weather conditions and alert snow bucket drivers to prepare and use them when needed. In Buffalo, New York, Snow buckets were equipped with sensors capable of geolocation so that municipal officials could follow the routes on which the snow was shoveled. They are also able to send an email to community members informing them that their streets have been swept away by snow. In addition Sensors allow employees to monitor the location of each bucket using maps with colored symbols so that the bulldozer dispatcher can see which streets are finished.[ix]
Public Works authorities will also be able to maintain their proactive approach to road maintenance thanks to the Internet of Things. In France, Sensors distributed on the roads provide real-time data to help divert vehicles away from hazards. Also in the United States, the Carkennes Bridge in California is equipped with sensors to monitor its performance under various conditions, including fast winds or earthquakes, and to automatically detect its need for maintenance.
Access to remote areas
IoT technology has many benefits for remote areas that do not have access to the right amount of services or are difficult to access. For example, Video sensors mounted on drones can be used to reconnoiter earthquake damage at a hard-to-reach location or to search for lost or missing climbers. Emergency department communications from remote areas can also be verified using aircraft with sensors to help deliver supplies to populations stranded by an emergency or natural disaster.
Fire departments are making use of the Internet of Things to monitor forest fires, especially in highland areas most exposed to them. Tree-mounted sensors can detect areas where temperatures are high and determine the location and pattern of the fire, helping firefighters fight the fire quickly and properly.
The benefits offered by IoT to remote areas are not limited to this, Healthcare providers can get the necessary medicines for patients in remote and hard-to-reach areas to reach the hospital quickly. In addition Health authorities can set up telehealth counseling systems in health clinics in remote areas to treat and diagnose all illnesses from influenza to diabetes.
The network is the main pillar
All the examples we have mentioned illustrate the impact of the Internet of Things on providing the services that individuals need. At the heart of these examples and other initiatives is a network capable of supporting the infrastructure needed for the Internet of Things.
Big data is an important component of the Internet of Things. This is because it gives municipalities the ability to provide services more quickly and effectively and to discover new opportunities such as previously difficult access to remote areas. That's why IoT and big data require appropriate levels of bandwidth to handle the vast amount of data and send commands based on it.
The Internet of Things needs a strong network capable of withstanding the flow of data from different sources and delivering this data to resources capable of effectively processing it. The network must include its own broadband and Wi-Fi service to ensure that it is always connected so that it can collect data, send it to the cloud, analyze it, and then convert it into commands.
Moreover, Municipalities must provide a network capable of functioning effectively whatever the location of users. The availability of Wi-Fi and bandwidth for connected networks keeps information flowing rapidly in line with IoT requirements.
Comcast Business offers the right solutions
The company offers a full range of connectivity solutions to help municipalities and government entities leverage the power of IoT to deliver services seamlessly and proactively. Among the products offered are a fibre-based IP network and a wide range of broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity services to create a continuously connected environment for everyone.
Comcast Business designed managed broadband and Ethernet solutions to support the networks needed for IoT-based initiatives. It also offers a range of multi-speed solutions to meet the bandwidth requirements at each location, the most prominent of which is the 10 GB Ethernet network that can be expanded and expanded. The company also carries out all work related to networks, starting from activating them to managing them, This is to enable municipalities to focus on service delivery and not the maintenance of their networks.
The bottom line
We can look at the Internet of Things as a gateway to a new world of possibilities and opportunities that we have to seize in all aspects of our lives whether at work, leisure, or interacting with each other. For governments, The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the effective tools that can be used to proactively deliver government services by providing decision-making processes and organizing mechanisms with appropriate data and information to save taxpayers' money.
[i] GovLoop, "What the Internet of Things Means for the Public Sector," white paper, October 2015 https://www.govloop.com/pdf-viewer/?file=https://www.govloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/GovLoop-Internet-of-Things-Guide-.pdf
[ii] Anurag Gupta, Bettina Tratz-Ryan, Peter Middleton, "Smart Cities Will Include 10 Billion Things by 2020 — Start Now to Plan, Engage and Position Offerings," analyst paper, Gartner, March 11, 2015 https://www.gartner.com/doc/3004417?ref=clientFriendlyURL
[iii] William D. Eggers, Max Meyers, Claire Niech, "How the Internet of Things Could Transform Public Services," Governing, Sept. 2, 2015, http://www.governing.com/columns/smart-mgmt/col-internet-of-things-iot-government-services.html
[iv] Smart Cities are Built on the Internet of Things," whitepaper, Lopez Research, Feb. 2, 2014, http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/solutions/trends/iot/docs/smart_cities_are_built_on_iot_lopez_research.pdf
[v] Eggers, Meyers, Niech, "How the Internet of Things Could Transform Public Services"
[vi] Tatiana Schlossberg, "New York Police Begin Using ShotSpotter System to Detect Gunshots," The New York Times, March 16, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/nyregion/shotspotter-detection-system-pinpoints-gunshot-locations-and-sends-data-to-the-police.html?_r=0
[vii] Ron Miller, "GE Spotlights New Street Lamps," TechCrunch, April 16, 2015 https://techcrunch.com/2015/04/16/ge-spotlights-new-smart-street-lamps/
[ix] Ben Dickson, "How IoT and Machine Learning Can Make Our Roads Safer," TechCrunch, July 13, 2016 https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/13/how-iot-and-machine-learning-can-make-our-roads-safer/