Jul 11

Six ways that the IoT can benefit cities

By Kelly Hill on JULY 16, 2019

A new blueprint for internet of things adoption by municipalities lays out half a dozen areas where IoT can offer benefits to cities.

The Municipal IoT Blueprint report comes via the Wireless SuperCluster of the Global City Teams Challenge, operating under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“The Internet of Things is one of the most dynamic technology areas faced by municipalities today,” said David Witkowski, who also serves as the co-chair of GCTC Wireless Cluster and is co-editor of the blueprint together with Tony Batalla, CIO of the city of San Leandro, California. “While the Internet of Things is often key to smart city projects, elements of it are changing rapidly and are sometimes poorly understood. This blueprint was created as a way to help make sense of the topic,” Witkowski said in a statement. 

The report described IoT networks as “cyber-physical systems that underpin the various domain-specific applications and outcomes that smart communities hope to achieve, such as improved public safety, transportation, broadband, economic development, etc.”

The blueprint, available as a free pdf, says that IoT networks have the potential to greatly improve municipal operations on a number of fronts. Those include:

Better service delivery. “Many civil service problems have been around so long, they are considered more like facts of life than actual problems,” the report notes. “Of course, there is traffic at rush hour. Of course, parking downtown is a pain. Of course, the trashcans on Main Street overflow on weekends. IoT technology and smart city systems are not a magic wand to make these challenges disappear – but they can certainly help” by leveraging from connected devices including parking sensors, GPS systems, cameras and electronic road signs, the blueprint says.

Reduced operating costs. The blueprint says that despite a public perception of government bloat, many local agencies operate on a shoestring budget — and installing IoT technology can provide savings by enabling street lights to be automatically turned on and off, by providing faster alerts on issues with a city water system, or through asset tracking that helps staff find things like ladders or forklifts more quickly.

-Improved commerce. IoT technology “encourages cooperation between multiple public and private organizations to collect, analyze, and actualize real-time information,” the blueprint authors concluded.  Businesses could utilize the collected data to improve their own services, or digital kiosks can provide concierge services or display ads to generate revenue for local government and showcase local businesses. “Data even shows smart cities enhance competitiveness in attracting new residents and businesses,” the report said.

Environmental sustainability. The IoT can improve efficiency in water and utility systems, while air quality sensors can both provide information to protect the health of sensitive populations, but give regulators insights into pollutions sources so they can develop action plans.

Equitable access. The blueprint noted that while many rural, unincorporated, coastal, or underserved communities miss out on connectivity benefits because of a lack of fiber, cellular or other wireless connectivity, if a municipality begins to implement an IoT network through technologies such as microwave technology, that can be a stepping stone for greater community access.

-“Everything else.” The blueprint acknowledged that a wide variety of benefits can be realized for local governments that don’t fall into neat categories. “From bots to sensors, the use of smart technology can free up staff to focus on strategic initiatives rather than manual drudgery,” it said.

“Regardless of geographic location, population, economic size and might, governments working with the Internet of Things are hoping to improve the lives of the residents and visitors in their communities. This core value binds us all together on the journey to becoming ‘smart,’” the report says. “Ultimately, it all comes down to public service—using technology to best serve the public by making the best use of resources available to us.”

Read the full municipal blueprint for IoT here. 

Original source: RCR Wireless