What happens when the Internet ‘mingles’ with cities

A research report from Cisco discusses how its “Internet of Everything” concept can be applied to the public sector. Listen to the City of Barcelona’s CIO describe the impact

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If you work in the public sector, you’re probably feeling pressure to improve quality of service while dealing with shrinking resources.

That’s where the Internet of Everything (IoE) comes in, at least according to Cisco. In a new study released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Cisco says the IoE could actually generate US$4.6 trillion in value for public-sector organizations over the next decade.

In fact, the study says governments can save money while improving employee productivity and generate new revenue without raising taxes.

So what exactly is the IoE? Basically, Cisco defines it as “the networked connection of people, process, data and things, and the increased value that occurs as ‘everything’ joins the network.” It involves sensors and wireless connectivity to greatly expand the amount of data collected, and then processing that data in real time to make better decisions.

We’re already seeing how the IoE can be applied in the home automation market, where you can use your smartphone to remotely control your security system or thermostat. Take that a step further and things start to get interesting.

Cisco points to “killer apps” in the public sector that include everything from smart buildings to gas monitoring and waste disposal. Smart water management, for example, could generate US$39 billion by connecting household water meters over an IP network to provide remote information on use and status, according to Cisco.

This isn’t some sci-fi vision of the future; it’s already begun. The City of Barcelona, for example, is using IoE solutions in water management, smart parking, waste management and connected buses, all of which are helping the city save money and improve quality of service.

Manel Sanromà, the city’s CIO, stresses that this isn’t a pilot project. The city is already saving US$58 million a year on smart water management and has increased revenues from parking fees by US$50 million. And, in the process, the city has created 47,000 jobs related to its “smart” initiatives.

“The Internet applied to a city is not a city that wants to be smart, it is the Internet mingling with the city,” said Sanromà, during a roundtable discussion at CES. In other words, it’s not about technology for technology’s sake; it’s about improving the economy and quality of life.

We might think we’re already super-connected, but consider that only one per cent of the objects around us are actually connected. And we’re moving from 10 billion connected “things” today to 50 billion in 2020.

Connectivity — not just between “things,” but also between people and processes — offers a real opportunity for governments to do more with less. Sure, the IoE may be the latest buzzword, but it’s one that just may live up to the hype.

As the IoE takes shape, get your IT environment ready by downloading Allstream Hosted Collaboration Solution: A technical overview of unified communications in the cloud

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