How Governments use The Internet of Things

May 22, 2015

Big Data
Data, Data, Data,

The private sector has already embraced it. Companies are connecting everything to it and using analytics to drive major decisions. The result is cost savings and efficiencies.

But what about the State? How are governments embracing the IoT revolution? We hear about smart cities and solving rush hour traffic, but how does the public sector implement these forward thinking strategies and which ones should they pursue?

Kim Devooght at Wavefront Summits

Kim Devooght at Wavefront Summits

That’s where Kim Devooght comes in. As Vice President of Public Sector Relations for Cisco Canada, he is at the frontlines of that discussion. Cisco has studied a myriad of ways that governments can extract value from IoT; by finding efficiencies and savings within existing operations. From a global perspective, he says these are the opportunities in dollar amounts:

  • $43bn in Smart Parking
  • $49bn in Water Management
  • $146bn in Health Care and Chronic Pain Management
  • $258bn in Connected Learning
  • $1.5 TRILLION in Connected Military Defense and Intelligence

At Wavefront Summits back in April, he presented a mountain of examples for how the Internet of Things can help shape public policy and projects for the common good:

Afterwards, he spoke with IO to expand on his points:

You’ve given that presentation to many public sector representatives. On those occasions where you get to chat with people afterwards, do they understand the point you are trying to drive home?

I think people learn at different speeds. So the more people hear it, the more they start to internalize it and understand how it applies in their situation. Because at the end of the day, people always ask “What does this mean to me, my situation, what I’m responsible for?”. Until you start to understand it, it is just noise.

It’s similar to the early discussions around cloud computing, I mean nobody understood it. But the more you hear about it and the more industry talks about it and the potential becomes clearer.

You mentioned that often you are preaching to the converted; yet half that room wasn’t necessarily converted. So how do the disciples convince the skeptics?

First, people have to understand what the art of the possible is. You need to understand, through either use cases or specifics, like say Barcelona (Dundee), Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport),  etc…and say “Wow, that actually can happen”. You don’t have to be a technologist to understand the benefit.

The second thing is asking, “Where could this apply in my situation and why should I bother?” At the end of the day, you have to answer one basic question, “What’s in it for me?”

There’s a perpetual stereotype that governments are slow to adopting new technologies quickly. Do you agree?

No, I don’t . Maybe the sense of urgency isn’t precisely the same (as the private sector) because it isn’t a live or die thing. However, governments can move very quickly – they absolutely can. Look how fast the Canadian Government moved in the financial crisis. Whether you agree with the policy is not the point; they made major decisions moving quickly. So it’s really a case of finding the combination of the right tools, the right circumstance/business case and the right circumstance. If you find that mix, you are good to go.

Read  how Ottawa firm QNX is using the Internet of Things here

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