Where the government can find a quick win in mobility projects

Cisco’s Victor Woo talks about how the Internet of Everything will be making its way to the public sector and transforming citizen services

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With people keeping a closer watch on how public funds are spent, perhaps some public sector officials are wary of allocating funds to things like mobility unless they guarantee measurable and visible successes. A few projects, however, are beginning to stand out.

For instance, Toronto’s multi-platform mobile app for its 311 service has been a hit with many citizens who are now able to report to authorities the location potholes and graffiti around the city.

Apart from its own mobile 311 app, the City of Calgary offers residents and visitors a free mobile app that helps them plan their trips with a guide to local pathways, bikeways and LRT routes.

Work is now underway to provide subway riders in Montreal with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Related: How smart cities make room for the Internet of Everything

Victor Woo, Cisco Canada

Victor Woo, Cisco Canada

“It’s at the municipal level where we’ve seen some of the more interesting mobile projects and the health sector appears to be where government can find quick wins with the technology,” says Victor Woo, director of the Internet of Everything for Cisco Systems Inc.

Some doctors may still be hesitant to digitize their patient records but there is growing demand, even among seniors, to make lab reports and medical records accessible on smart phones and tablet devices, according to Woo.

As in other sectors, the demand is driven by faster wireless connectivity and the ubiquity of mobile devices.

In its latest Visual Networking Index forecast, Cisco projects that Canada’s current average mobile connection speed of 2,607 Kbps will grow two-fold to 4,573 Kbps by 2018.

The average 2013 smart phone connection speed of 10,777 Kbps will reach 18,763 Kbps in four years while the tablet device connection speed of 10,801 Kbps will jump to 18, 819 Kbps by 2018.

The same report estimates that smart phone mobile traffic will grow seven-fold from between 2013 and 2018 to 141.4 Petabytes a month. Tablet mobile traffic for the same period is on track for a 14-fold growth of up to 75.7 Petabytes a month.

“The rise in bandwidth will drive the increasing use of mobile apps and machine-to-machine technology to provide access to city services and cut the municipal maintenance cost by using sensors to monitor city assets such as street lamps, parking meters and utilities,” says Woo.

Related: Sensors and the city: Where the Internet of Everything should live

One of the early successes can be seen in health-care providers communicating and sharing documents and reports through mobile devices within and even across hospitals.

Patients will similarly want to have access to their medical records, the ability to refill prescriptions and schedule medical appointments on their smart phones and tablets.

However, in order to rollout these services officials need to consider:

  • Safety and security of personal and sensitive data
  • Developing a robust and reliable network infrastructure
  • Leveraging technology and more intelligent endpoints

In making their cost-benefit assessments, city officials need to figure in the cost of not delving into mobility since it touches such a wide swath of our lives.

“In deciding whether or not to pursue a digital or mobile program, they also need to determine what the impact of their decision will be on the citizens’ lifestyle, city traffic, the delivery of services, health-care and even business investments,” Woo says.

Watch this on-demand Webinar to learn how governments can tackle The Perfect IT Storm: Collaboration, Virtualization and Mobility

Image courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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