IDC estimates that 30 billion devices and objects will be linked to the Internet by 2020. This interconnection of systems, known as the Internet of Things, creates a huge opportunity for cities to improve everything from water management to public transit.
Technology advances such as mobility, analytics and cloud computing have laid the foundation for an IoT ecosystem in which governments collect, store and share information.
For example, Montgomery County, Md., improves the safety of residents of low-income housing with an IoT initiative that gathers data from sensors monitoring smoke, hazardous gases, air quality, light and temperature. If the system detects unsafe conditions, it contacts residents and alerts first responders if necessary, says Dan Hoffman, chief innovation officer for the county.
Key to the Montgomery County IoT implementation is the cloud — a Platform as a Service offering hosts sensor data and related applications. Thanks to the success of its initial project, Hoffman intends to expand IoT elsewhere in the county, such as in assisted living facilities.
San Jose, Calif., too is piloting IoT to encourage the use of public transit. Air, traffic and transportation sensors pass data over 3G and 4G cellular networks directly to a cloud cluster that integrates and mashes up the data for further analysis.
Learn more about how local governments can improve services with IoT technologies here.
As governments rush to tap the power of the cloud, though, they can sometimes be confounded by the array of options. With Software as a Service, for example, they must choose between varying prices and levels of capability. Milwaukee County, Wis., decided to purchase Microsoft Office 365 licenses for 3,500 of its 4,500 employees, and Chief Technology Officer Nicholas Wojciechowski says he may explore a la carte options for the remaining staff.
For additional insight into how governments decide which applications and systems to move to the cloud, see "How to Make a Smooth Cloud Transition."