IT Outsourcing

Internet of Things and the Public Sector: a $4.6 Trillion Opportunity

2016 has arrived, rife with opportunities, risks, and, of course, buzzwords. As cloud computing, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and 3D printing are rapidly becoming common terms, one buzzword just seems to get buzzier and buzzier: IoT, or Internet of Things. Coined in 1999 by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, Internet of Things is clearly a concept that is ahead of its time, but 2016 may well be the year that it revolutionizes how public sector agencies serve their citizens.

The implications of connecting heterogeneous objects, smart devices to the Internet and to each other are unfathomable. If ever a technological revolution will surpass the impact of the personal computer, this will be it. While the focus in the United States seems to be primarily on the wowing the consumer market, Europe has decided to take a leadership role in defining the very rules of the new digital world.

In 2015, the European Commission initiated The Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI), with the purpose of encouraging and facilitating interaction and dialog among Internet of Things stakeholders. Although the AIOTI initiative engages players from political, technical, and financial corners, among others, it is through the public sector that the greatest number of people may ultimately experience IoT technology.

IoT’s Value to the Private Sector

A 2013 white paper by Cisco examined the benefits and risks associated with private sector utilization of IoE technologies. IoE (Internet of Everything) is the term Cisco uses, rather than IoT. The exhaustive analysis projected a $4.6 trillion opportunity for the global public sector over the next decade.

According to the study, which included 40 case studies, IoT can be instrumental in helping public sector organizations achieve many public-policy goals. Among these, Cisco cites increased economic growth and improvements in environmental sustainability, public safety and security, delivery of government services, and productivity.

Potential Applications

The opportunities for smart connectivity in the public sector are enormous. IoT lends itself seamlessly to applications in smart buildings and smart transportation, smart parking and water management. The ability to monitor bridges, tunnels, and other structures for problems offers both increased public safety and costs reductions. Additionally, telecommuting, or reduced travel, offers cross-agency cost savings.

IoT offers exciting possibilities for improving the safety, effectiveness, and response time of police, firefighters, and medical responders. Emerging technology could soon put within our grasp smart buildings that do not just report the detection of fires, but that also report the location of persons stranded inside; smart streets that automatically report unsafe drivers; and facial recognition software that identifies unconscious persons and quickly provides medics with the subject’s medical history.

The value of smart, connected machines is probably realized nowhere so much as among the militaries of major nation states. In an organization where quick access to information can mean the difference between life and death, we can only assume that militaries are fully exploiting IoT technology.

Of course, as smart sensors and the global networks that link them become more sophisticated, new applications will appear, which we have yet to envision.

The Future is Now

While the potential benefits of IoT in the public sector may not be fully realized for many years, its impact can already be seen.

According to Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales at Cisco, Germany is leading the global trend in IoT utilization, where IoT has been strongly embraced by the German automotive industry.

The machine-to-machine (M2M) market in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) had nearly 55 million connected devices in 2013, as revealed by Machina Research. Studies suggest this number will grow to 263 million devices by 2023.

Finland has demonstrated how IoT technology can save public sector dollars by providing Internet connections to the most mundane of objects: trash cans. A Finnish startup company developed an IoT-enabled sensor that reports the amount of garbage present in the can on garbage-collection day. Trash cans equipped with sensors provide a status report to garbage-collection truck drivers. Only cans that report full or nearly full status get emptied, creating a 30% savings over previous garbage collection costs.

In addition to making a name for itself as host to some of the world’s most innovative tech startups, Israel is also establishing itself as a major player in development of the IoT ecosystem. With 350 IoT companies in Israel, representing 5% of all Israeli tech startups, Israel’s contribution to the global IoT initiative is likely to be significant.

The Digital Single Market and the Public Sector

The European Commission has identified, as one of its 10 political priorities, the completion of the Digital Single Market (DSM). The Digital Single Market is designed to facilitate the free movement of persons, services, and capital across national borders of member countries, ensuring fair exercise of commerce regardless of the user’s national origin. Instrumental to the growth of the DSM, said the commission, is European industries’ willingness to participate in the development of the IoT ecosystem.

While it is obvious that the DSM will bring economic benefits to the private sectors of Member States, the importance of the DSM to the public sector is no less significant. According to Garnter, “the public sector can leverage the Internet of Things to reduce costs, improve delivery of services and engage citizens.” Also according to Garnter, advances in IoT applications for the next five years will be fueled by investments from the private sector. And it is the Digital Single Market that accellerate private sector IoT initiatives.

Not only will the public sector benefit from the DSM, but Rand Corporation research suggests that Member State governments can be key players in the development of the IoT architecture through making applicable regulations IoT friendly.

The relationship between public sectors and the DSM is interestingly symbiotic, and will be worth watching as the Digital Single Market unfolds.

How Ignite can help?

Ignite offers world-class technology outsourcing services to forward-thinking organizations across the globe. With dedicated teams consisting of some of the world’s best developers, Ignite is perfectly positioned to help our clients navigate the challenges of the IoT revolution successfully.

Projections are that the IoT will significantly impact the public sector. Ignite knows how to work with planners, engineers, and facilitators to bring IoT technology to public sectors at all levels. Together, we will identify the best solution for your organization.

As IoT evolves, our methodologies will evolve along with it. We will develop your systems to run on whichever protocols will work best for your application. When global standards are adopted—and they eventually will be, we will be there to make sure your IoT nodes transition seamlessly to the global standard that will best serve you.

The next $4.6 trillion revolution has begun. As with all new technologies, the IoT revolution will spawn both winners and losers. If your organization is to benefit from the IoT wave rather than being lost in its wake, you need to partner with experts who won’t lose their momentum when the waters get rough. Why not let Ignite Outsourcing show you the way?

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