The idea of a municipality using Internet of Things (IoT) devices isn’t new. Between red light cameras and smart meters on houses, government agencies have already found efficiencies with Internet-connected devices. With IoT devices recording more data than ever, new providers of big data apps for municipalities are emerging, trying to help define how governments catch up in the new information age.
In general, governments respond slowly to change. Part of this is due to their risk-averse nature. Regulations can also slow down adoption rates as government agencies try to keep the proper mix of transparency and data safety. Even so, changes are showing up in the way some municipalities do business. From street lighting to full on smart cities, IoT devices and the big data associated are set to change the way we see city government in the future.
Street Lights Get Smart
Street lights have had daylight sensors for decades. Many of us grew up with the instruction to come home as the lights came on in the summer. Modern street lights are upping their game. Beyond sensing the level of light they can now sense people and cars. Connected streetlights can brighten ahead of and dim behind a car as it travels down the road. More advanced street lights may even get camera and weather sensors as well. The advanced programming allows the light to spend more time off and cuts electricity use dramatically. This can save a lot of money for cities while at the same time the cameras can show parking violations allowing a rapid response from local police.
Big Data Streamlines Operations
Traffic data can come from cameras on stoplights, sensors in roads, and increasingly drivers on the road sharing information. All of this data can be brought together in a big data cloud ripe for analysis. This data is a great starting point for many municipalities to start their journey to a smart city status. Alleviating traffic and providing safer streets for pedestrians has immediately noticeable results. Immediate results will help the governments in these cities gain their resident’s confidence, allowing them to embark on more big data projects, resulting in greater efficiencies and eventually cost savings.
Helping Us Make Better Choices
Another place municipalities can use big data to great effect is utility monitoring. This is easiest to see with water meters. Data returned to a city from water meters can show a leaky faucet in a home for instance. Real-time granular data from individual locales can help cities, and the customers in them, save water. Another use is tracking power usage to enable more efficient power generation and delivery.
Moving to the future governments, both big and small, need to respond faster to change. They need to keep up with their residents’ expectations, such as easy access and useful information. IoT devices will allow them to serve their residents in new and innovative ways we can only dream of now. At the same time, more big data will become available to help them make the right decisions for their residents.
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