Digital transformation is underway in the private sector as household goods, from phones to fridges, are imbued with data collection and analysis, connected through the internet to each other and the wider world. The public sector can also leverage the IoT to radically overhaul certain services, from congestion to earthquake warning systems. This is the smart future of public services.
Streamlining Traffic Flow
Vehicles are increasingly enabled with GPS (Global Positioning Systems) allowing public services to gather real-time data on the flow of traffic through cities. Algorithms will be able to analyze the patterns of movement of vehicles with greater complexity, and city planning can be informed by the outcome to build street layouts which minimize congestion. For example, with a sophisticated understanding of how traffic varies throughout the day – at rush hour, for example – contraflow systems can be designed to optimize street layouts in the pre-work and post-work rushes.
Traffic light information and public transport systems can also be optimized according to user data, meaning that not a minute is wasted. These optimized systems will be highly efficient, reducing congestion and pollution.
Leveraging Data For Public Safety
Public services will be able to leverage the vast amount of data produced in the external world through the IoT in order to reduce crime and boost public safety. Sensor data can be collected through public transport, for example, providing forewarning of potential hazardous degradation of train tracks. Smart trains could relay track information to a centralized hub, ensuring adverse weather or general wear and tear never reach the stage of a costly accident.
Crime can be reduced in a number of ways through the IoT. Officers will be able to respond to incidents quicker than ever thanks to the flow of data, and even prevent crimes from happening in the first place through analysis of crime hotspots and preventative action.
City councils and other public sector bodies are increasingly concerned with reducing pollution in urban areas in order to meet environmental standards. The IoT, with the corresponding production in data, can have a significant impact on the ability of public services to tackle pollution.
Water supply will be enabled with smart sensors that report on flow and blockages, as well as any pipes which might be leaking. This ‘early warning system’ will allow councils to take action on otherwise costly leaks. As noted above, smart traffic management can have implications of air pollution, and interconnected sensors can report real-time information on this, allowing for further optimization across the city.
IoT In The Medical Arena
The Internet of Things is already having a huge impact on healthcare in the private arena and these repercussions will be trickling into the provision of public services. Pharmacies will be able to implement IoT technology in prescriptions, as tablets across general practitioner surgeries and pharmacies will be interlinked, creating a streamlined data flow that enables subscriptions to be filled in advance of patients attending.
AI is increasingly able to analyze X-Rays and scans on a level of detail that trained doctors can’t achieve. By comparing tens of thousands of scans within a few seconds, artificial intelligence will be able to identify and flag up anomalies that doctors otherwise may have missed.
As our climate changes around us, the cost of adverse weather is growing – in 2020, an estimated $300 billion bill was entailed by weather and disaster scenarios. The IoT will enable manmade structures to be imbued with data collection and analysis, providing early warning systems that ensure action is taken to mitigate the worst effects of the weather.
For example, the structural integrity of buildings, although hidden from view, can be analysed by sensors embedded in the building’s material. This would allow organizations to assess the risk of earthquakes and take action where needed. Smart dams would never burst as they analyzed the impact of increased water pressure and even predicted water intake and output based on weather forecasts.
Brave New World
Whilst the private sector riches to implement the IoT across household devices, enabling a better assessment of consumer habits, the benefits of the IoT on the public sector are yet to fully materialize. However, the impact of the IoT on cities and urban planning is huge, mitigating everything from gridlock to pollution, to the worst effect of natural disasters around the world.
(Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Liverpool Writing Service with an interest in politics, technology and the intersection of these topics. When she’s not writing she’s a mother of two daughters and enjoys coffee and cosy bookshops).