The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us, but we're only just beginning to understand its full potential. According to our recent research, the IoT Barometer 2017/18
, where organisations reported an increase in revenue from adopting IoT, it averaged 19%. And as it increasingly affects our lives as consumers, with everything from smart energy meters in the home to canine trackers, IoT is presenting cost-effective opportunities for the public sector that could fundamentally transform the way we think about service delivery.
Here are five ways IoT is already having a large impact on public sector services around the world:
1. Waste management – They say “rubbish in, rubbish out,” but what if there’s a lot more of the former? This was exactly the dilemma faced in Seoul, where cuts to residential waste management resulted in fewer collections, prompting people to put their household rubbish in public bins. Predictably, this merely shifted the problem from the home to the street.
Ecube labs, a smart waste bins manufacturer, found a solution: a solar-powered bin that compresses its contents. The compression allows for up to four-times as much rubbish to be stored, reducing the demand for collection. When these “Clean Cube” bins inevitably need emptying, they have another helpful feature: wireless communication. The bins relay the information that they’re full, allowing local councils to plan waste management collections strategically and therefore cut down on unnecessary visits.
2. Fly tipping – Speaking of rubbish, there have been over a million reported fly tipping incidents in England alone last year, over two thirds of which is thought to be household waste. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs estimates that clean-up has cost £58million.
New Zealand’s iDefigo, a CCTV equipment and services firm, provides IoT-connected smart cameras to catch perpetrators. In November, iDefigo’s smart cameras were able to identify a business in Tooting that was fly tipping heaps of trade waste like cardboard and packaging. The business admitted to the crime and was subsequently fined £3,100.
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 provided by Smart Parking, an Australian-based company, connects drivers with city services, allowing parking operators to better manage spaces and drivers to more easily find them.
Here’s how it works: Smart Parking wireless devices, installed with Vodafone Global IoT SIMs, are embedded in parking spaces, transmitting data on when the space is used and for how long 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. Real-time information on the status of each light point saves time and money on maintenance. Energy is saved by managing the light’s intensity with dimming, allowing up to 30-40% energy savings above that of LED lighting.
5. Drug storage – It’s not uncommon to be prescribed a medication that must be stored in the fridge. In most cases, the label recommends storing in a “cool, dry place.” Failure to store drugs properly can cause them to lose their potency - a significant health hazard and something that costs pharmaceuticals billions of pounds a year. Part of the problem is that pharmacists and other healthcare professionals often don’t have time to monitor storage temperatures, and daily checks can overlook fluctuations that have already occurred.
But a more likely source of a drug’s spoiling is when it goes out of temperature range in transit. The solution is a small hardware sensor that tracks both the location and temperature of packaged medications. Usually when a drug makes its journey through the supply chain, there are periods in which its temperature isn’t monitored. Not any more. With sensors, every moment of the supply chain journey can be closely scrutinised – a game-changing innovation that could save lives.