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Internet of Things (IoT) set to transform municipal life


November 4, 2016

From the smartphone in your pocket to the digital device tracking pollution levels in your city, the Internet of Things (IoT) is reaching unprecedented growth.

According to Gartner, the global IoT network currently consists of more than six billion devices, but this number is expected to grow to more than 20 billion by 2020, exceeding the number of humans at a ratio of 4:1.

Imagine what can be done with these connected devices. The possibilities are endless.

It’s no wonder 172 government personnel, surveyed by non-profit trade association Computing Industry Trade Association (CompTIA), agreed the IoT is set to transform municipal life as we know it.

“Cities and city leaders are thinking more holistically about different uses of technology that are integrated and bringing different aspects of the city together into a unified whole,” said Tim Herbert, senior vice-president, research and market intelligence, CompTIA.

“Improved decision-making made possible through new or better streams of data ranks as the highest perceived benefit,” he adds.

In its report, Building Smarter Cities, CompTIA found that 50% of local, state and federal government personnel believe IoT and smart cities enabled by IoT will definitely provide value. In addition, another 39% felt IoT and smart cities would probably provide value.

The survey also found that 11% of government entities have a formal IoT initiative under way, with another 25% working on a IoT pilot project.

With governments already working on applications in energy management, public safety and transportation, Herbert believes the next phase of growth will be cities-as-a-service. He also expects tech firms with expertise in integration, APIs, cloud computing, data and security to play key roles in facilitating smart cities’ growth by providing end-to-end solutions.

“Even the tech-savviest government staff may quickly find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to systems integration,” Herbert said. “A smart cities pilot managed by internal staff may become unmanageable when it expands beyond the pilot phase.”

For a closer look at what some smart cities are doing, CompTIA provided these examples:

Water management: After losing about 15 billion gallons of water per year from leaky pipes, the City of Houston embedded sensors and intelligent pump control systems to regulate the flow of water and identify issues as they happen.

Energy conservation: While New York State and utilities throughout the region work to upgrade the power grid, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is working to track energy usage. The Real Time Energy Management program uses sensors, smart meters and big data analytics to optimize energy usage of commercial buildings.

Transportation: After winning the U.S. Department of Transportations’ Smart City Challenge, Columbus, Ohio is using part of its $40 million prize to deploy electric self-driving shuttles operating in conjunction with a new rapid transit centre.

Public Safety: To increase visibility at peak times for walkers and bikers, Copenhagen, Denmark has replaced more than half of its street lights with energy-efficient smart LED lights. With sensors and connectivity to the city’s network, the lights enable auto-dimming based on time of day.

Environment: A consortium of 14 European nations is using crowdsourcing like never before. CITISENSE is deploying a network of ‘citizen observations’ to monitor air quality through wearable sensors.

Herbert added, “Given the many layers of agencies, jurisdictions and constituencies, interest in data-driven decision-making is not surprising. “Even small improvements in empowering government workers with the right data at the right time can pay dividends.”

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Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Marketing Communications Specialist at FreeBalance
Michael works in the marketing and communications department following a career in journalism. Michael is currently learning Ruby on Rails and loves discovering new music.

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