10 Great Ideas for the Public Sector using Internet of Things

18 March 2017,

Internet of Things [IoT], is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. IoT is used widely across many industries around the globe. It is now time for the public sector to tap into the endless potential of this brilliant technology.

10 Great Ideas for the Public Sector using Internet of Things

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of things, in simple terms, means that any object that is networked via the internet can seamlessly send and receive data.

Any object that is embedded with sensors or actuators, and equipped with network connectivity to exchange data, becomes IoT. In addition to connectivity, Internet of Things also has the ability to extract and analyze growing amounts of useful data. It then uses this analysis in automated as well as human-based processes. This is precisely why IoT has enormous potential across all sectors, especially the public sector.

Here’s an example that explains how the concept of  works.

Have you ever noticed the warning light that your car shows you telling you that your tires need air?

And do you remember how much you hated yourself for ignoring it as soon as you hit a flat tire? How do you think your car was able to detect this forthcoming event?

It is simply because the software in your car is programmed to let you know when something in the car is not normal. The communication between you and your car happens through the warning lights on your dashboard. Each of these lights is linked to specific parameters within the software. The software, in turn, receives its inputs from sensors fitted to the device. So when you listen to the warning signs, this technologically advanced feature can help save you time, money, and unnecessary trouble.

How will IoT benefit the Public Sector?

The Internet of Things is not a very widely used concept when it comes to the public sector. This is rather surprising because it can benefit the government tremendously and make people prefer their services over the ones provided by the private sector.

Here is where and how Internet of Things can be used in the public sector.

  1. Use the marvel of GPS for travel
    GPS is one of the best developments in technology for human beings. If all trains and buses were to be GPS enabled the commuters would be able to get real-time updates of when the bus/train will arrive at a particular stop/station. People can check the time before they leave their homes and so the stations and bus stops would be less crowded.
  2. Improve transport services
    IoT not only makes the lives of the commuters easy but can also help the government improve their services. By analyzing all the digital information collected from swipe cards, the frequency of can be increased or decreased at certain hours of the day.
  3. Manage traffic better
    The Internet of Things can help you better manage traffic. Traffic policemen do not need to be physically present to help navigate traffic and avoid congestions. By using GPS tracking devices, traffic can be analyzed in real-time, and the traffic lights can be controlled accordingly.
  4. Promote tourism
    Being a smart city will not only be more helpful for the residents but will also attract more tourists. Tourists can opt to get immediate notifications about what’s happening in the city and which are the hottest places to hang out right now.
  5. Strengthen the infrastructure and economy
    Imagine all the extra money that could come in from the increased tourism will definitely . Add to this, when the public transportation is better, time-saving, and less crowded, people will prefer it over expensive cabs rides. This means more revenue for the government. This added money will help the government build better infrastructure and further improve the quality of their services.
  6. Improve the health of citizens
    Remember the example you read at the beginning of this article, the one about your car? Now imagine if the same benefits could be translated for human beings. Think of the possibility of diabetes or hypertension medicine refills for your loved ones being auto-sensed and automated.
    If certain medical devices would alert the doctor of patients with such or even severe life-threatening diseases when something is wrong. If a battery-operated medical equipment would send an alert when the battery needs to be replaced. What if there is a device that alerts someone with the simple push of a button. Imagine how many lives could be saved. The possibilities are endless. Many of these have already been successfully adopted in the private sector.
  7. Take better care of the environment
    Taking care of environmental issues is one of the major responsibilities of governments. This is probably why the governments of many countries across the globe are coming up with so many green initiatives, encouraging the people to opt for more environment-friendly choices for their daily needs. IoT can help you keep a tab on the pollution levels in the air and enables you to take the necessary action at the right time. To avoid wastage of water, sensors planted in water pipes can detect leaks in advance and receive immediate attention.
  8. Administer citizen identity better
    Many amusement parks around the world use a concept called the .
    Disney World puts all the information about your holiday in a band to make your travel easier. This band gives you access to all the different parks, depending on your purchase and even lets you unlock your hotel room. It has all the relevant information about you and the people travelling with you, so you do not need to carry any physical documents or room keys when you go to the parks.
    The same concept can be adopted to make administration easier. A magic band loaded with all the information about an individual makes information updating really quick and easy. These bands can be made safe using biometrics. This will help reduce identity theft, which is a major safety concern in many countries.
  9. Improve surveillance and security
    Apart from dealing with individual level security issues, a government also has to deal with many major security concerns. Computer operated or self-operating drones can help tackle a lot of security problems. Drone surveillance can help detect and neutralize threats before they cause major havoc.
  10. Detect fire accidents before it happens
    Having smoke detectors is a good start to reducing the impact of a fire. A smoke alarm warns the people in the house that is on fire, as well as the people in neighboring homes and gives them a chance to save themselves. However, it still takes time for the authorities to arrive and take control of the situation.
    The next step in fire safety could be sensors installed in the smoke alarms that are automated to inform the intervention centers. To stay one step ahead, sensors could be installed in gas pipes to detect leaks and potential fire threats. This can help identify the problem before the fire even breaks out.

What does the Public Sector need to do?

Just like the Internet has helped economies develop and flourish, the Internet of Things will do the same.

It will help governments do their jobs in a more efficiently. The public sector needs to embrace this technological development and reap its benefits. Some of the ways in which it can do this have been touched upon in this article but there are many more. IoT is capable of helping the government achieve its goals, including increased economic growth and improvements in environmental sustainability, public safety and security, delivery of their services, and productivity.

The advantages of implementing IoT are:
  1. Data from devices can be measured and adjusted
  2. Updates and corrective changes can be done immediately
  3. The data collected across the various digital platforms can be analyzed and used to improve the services.

The government should now assess where and how it can use Internet of Things in its operations, as well as the role it could play in achieving broader economic and social goals.

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