THE INTERNET OF THINGS

THE INTERNET OF THINGS
AND THE PUBLIC SECTOR

Written by
Peter Shand
Chief Technology Officer, Americas

The applications and usage of the Internet are multifaceted and expanding daily. The Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE) and Internet of Nano-Things (IoNT) are new approaches for incorporating the Internet into the generality of personal, professional and societal life, plus the impersonal world of inanimate quasi- intelligent devices. The term “Internet of Things” or “Internet of Objects” has come to represent electrical or electronic devices, of varying sizes and capabilities, that are connected to the Internet, but excluding those primarily involved in communications with human beings, i.e., the traditional Internet. The scope of the connections is ever broadening beyond basic machine- to-machine communication.

Figure 1. Practical IoT Applications

A generic IoT system typically consists of five components, which are:

  1. Sensors: which are used to mainly collect and transduce the data
  2. Computing Node: a processor for the data and information, received from a sensor;
  3. Receiver: to facilitate collecting the message sent by the computing nodes or other associated devices;
  4. Actuator: based on the decision taken by the Computing Node, processing the information received from the sensor and/or from the Internet, then triggering the associated device to perform a function;
  5. Device: to perform the desired task as and when triggered;
  6. Networks: although implied in the term “Internet,” it’s importance cannot be underestimated as it provides the highway for communication between the components of the “IoT” system and if insufficiently planned or provisioned can lead to failures across the entire system.

According to IDC, worldwide IoT spending will rise to $1.4 trillion by 2021 and still has a trajectory to increase even further in the future, with the public sector being no exception to the rule. IoT has already become a major player in transforming the public sector, including new projects to keep citizens connected at all times and continuously transforming cities to keep up with the fast pace of the digital age. Smart City projects are at the top of the list.

Figure 2. The top ten IoT Segments in 2018—based on real IoT projects

Here are five ways IoT is already having a large impact on public sector services around the world:

  1. Waste management – Cities have implemented smart bins that indicate when they are full which helps waste management teams to schedule pickups in a just in time manner that can reduce costs and help reduce the likelihood of overflows and possible disease etc.
  2. Crime Prevention – law enforcement teams in some cities have implemented CCTV equipment that provides IoT-connected smart cameras to catch perpetrators. This has a wide range of applications from individual crimes e.g. burglaries, to improper business practices.
  3. Parking – A parking space is more than meets the eye. To some it’s a prized resource on a trip to the supermarket, to others it’s a revenue generator. Remote monitoring connects drivers with city services, allowing parking operators to better manage spaces and drivers to more easily find them. Smart Parking wireless devices are embedded in parking spaces which transmit data indicating when the space is used and for how long. This information is sent via local signal processers into a central parking management application. Smart Parking reduces congestion, decreases vehicle emissions, lowers enforcement costs and cuts driver stress.
  4. Street lights – Yes, even street lights are connected now. Using IoT technology to connect individual light points, smart street lights allow city authorities to monitor and manage lighting through a user-friendly and highly flexible system. It also allows engineers to check performance, identify faults, and control lighting remotely. Smart street lights present a big saving for cities, conserving time, money, and energy.

THE NETWORK

In order to implement the right network to be able to accommodate the increasing quantity of devices as well as the traffic associated with that proliferation, it is important to consider:

Today’s IoT networks will seem small a decade from now, so new deployments should be capable of more than just meeting current requirements. More robust bandwidth, ubiquitous coverage and resiliency will be necessary. Network architecture and technology that are flexible, extensible, efficient, and that are also self-forming and self-healing, increase flexibility by enabling devices to adapt to local outages. They are essential to starting this journey toward a connected world.

The most desirable network providers offer modularity that delivers extensibility for new applications to be added as needed, communicating directly with one another at the edge forming rapid, efficient exchanges required for advanced applications.

Backwards compatibility is also crucial to future-proofing. Governments cannot afford to update all of their infrastructure just because a vendor, or standard, doesn’t support previous versions. Assessments of existing deployments should include reviewing similar entities that have deployed multiple generations of hardware on the same network over several years.