What’s Happening with the Internet of Things?

Oct 31, 2014
Image of tablet with city

No Mobile Gov Month on DigitalGov would be complete without an update on the Internet of Things.

Regardless if you’re talking wearables, smart homes, sensors or any other connected device, your current mobile approaches will be impacted—as will your social media, user experience and data strategies. When we last visited the topic in April, discussion in the federal government was minimal.

That’s no longer the case.

Just this month there were multiple panels about it at the Tech-In-State: Mobile Diplomacy event and the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) was very active at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Global Summit where FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez gave a keynote about challenges around IOT. Ramirez spoke about challenges around security, consumer privacy and advanced data analytics, which are hot areas in the IOT.

Yesterday, Jordan Higgins of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal SocialGov Community published a great article on the current state of Internet of Things and highlighted issues around security and privacy and offered some ways users can protect their data.

Panelists at the events I mentioned above noted as we move forward we’re going to need to think in broader terms about user experience, specifically around the user story. A good user experience will be one that seamlessly organizes numerous connected devices and sensors.

You can see some of this user experience rethinking internationally where municipalities are adopting the “smart city” approach—see Barcelona and Bern. In the U.S., the Smart America challenge, hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, culminated in an Expo that included demonstrations of smart cars and other Internet of Things prototypes that rely on a number of connected devices interacting with each other.

Perhaps the most comprehensive example of an IOT implementation in the federal government (funded by the Department of Transportation) is the SF Park pilot where sensors were put on parking meters in certain areas of downtown San Francisco for more than a year. With a smartphone app users were able to find parking spaces (parking prices also changed based on availability).

San Francisco found that average parking rates were lower, it was easier to find a parking spaces and overall parking availability improved (see full evaluation here). What the pilot didn’t do is allow users to pay for parking via smartphone. Future iterations could even leverage technology in a user’s car to find and pay for parking to make the user experience more seamless.

Smart Rome won’t be built in a day—Internet of Things implementations will be iterative. As one panelist at the Internet of Things Global Summit noted, it’s like we are back in 1900 talking about the impact of the automobile. We know we are dealing with a game-changing technology, but we’re not sure how it’s going to affect us and how it will play out.

The best way to stay connected is to discuss these challenges and work together. Join the SocialGov Commmunity. Get involved with discussions around competitions and prizes. Become a data guru. Stay involved in the User Experience community and, of course, join my MobileGov Community of Practice.

It’ll take a village to build a smart village. Let’s do this!