How The Internet Of Things Can Create Better Cities

January 6, 2017

4 Min Read
How The Internet Of Things Can Create Better Cities

Governments around the world are under pressure to improve service delivery and enhance the experience of citizens, whose expectations are based on how they engage with private enterprise through mobile devices and social media. To that end, many government and non-government organizations are looking to harness the Internet of Things (IoT) to help improve citizen engagement. This can yield policy-making and service delivery dividends for government with reduced costs and increased relevance to citizens.

IoT is a journey that has been a number of years in the making. It began with the Internet of Content, with content being amassed by citizens, consumers, businesses, and various organizations. More recently, Web 2.0 emerged, and this was particularly significant for the public sector. The ‘Internet of People’ refers to social media, editable web content, and its range of capabilities that empower citizens. These capabilities have traditionally been difficult for government to harness effectively, and now is the time for governments to make effective use of them by enabling citizens to tailor interactions to their specific ways, as they have come to expect.

Conveniently, the IoT aggregates the Internet of Content, the Internet of People, and social media. The key dividend for governments is better understanding the sentiments, risks and needs of citizens. Additional challenges involve complexities such as government’s ability to handle massive data volumes, and the privacy and secrecy legislation that governs how such data may be harnessed. Unfortunately, it is still unusual to find a decision-maker in government who is able to say that he or she is completely satisfied with their ability to harness the power of social media. Can we then also say that this problem is compounded with IoT?

The fundamentals of IoT for government

Where IoT presents challenges, however, its transformational opportunities allow government decision-makers to evaluate how it can be leveraged to improve public sector engagement, policy making, and service delivery.

I believe there are three key fundamentals for public sector organizations to consider in the development of IoT strategies:

  • Things are, and will continue to be, connected. This will impact how governments shape society, deliver services to society, and manage society as a whole. For now, there is a manageable volume of data that can be addressed by modern in-memory platforms.

  • Collecting data from sensors, machines, and people provides a basis for decision-making, but making sense of that data is paramount. For example, how can governments use insights gained from IoT to influence new policy proposals?

  • The IoT capability is wholly transformative, and governments have the opportunity to transform the way they make decisions. For example, they can use prediction. They can use automated responses, and they can surface data and insights inside operational processes to improve decision-making.

Collecting and processing the volumes of data that IoT-related applications create is a necessary first step. The next step is being able to make sense of that data to support decision-making, or even drive down costs associated with government services by predicting citizen needs or making automated responses.

It is important to look at IoT from both from a government agency and a city perspective. Concerning the latter, we know citizens want livable cities that are safe, clean, green, and inclusive. Citizens also want their cities to empower them to better serve their communities. Particularly in Asia, governments and citizens are also interested in how they can attract and retain businesses to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Where do we start?

To help governments choose a first foray into IoT, SAP has developed the SAP Urban Matters framework to address ‘smart cities’-type problems. This framework various aspects of life in the city, from connected healthcare, connected policing to connected logistics, connected buildings, and more. The SAP Urban Matters program helps government, business, and communities improve the lives of citizens and to develop ‘best run’ cities.

Many of our customers have found success by starting pilot programs to quickly gain momentum and avoid analysis paralysis. Many of these programs have enjoyed positive response from citizens and have helped show the powerful impact that modern technologies can have on government business processes and decision-making.

More resources

For more key success factors and examples, check out my webcast, which I recently presented at SAP Hyperconnected Asia Virtual Forum. Download my presentation slides or listen to the webcast at our Hyperconnected Asia Virtual Center.

At this specially curated site, you can also get access to a range of other resources, such as whitepapers, case studies, videos, and blogs on the Internet of Things and related topics.

It is possible to reimagine government policy-making, service delivery, and citizen engagement by harnessing IoT. Explore the Hyperconnected Asia Virtual Center to find out more today.

Des Fisher


About Des Fisher

Des Fisher is an Industry Principal of Public Sector at SAP. Based in Singapore, I provide sales support, enablement, thought leadership, and business development across the Asia Pacific and Japan region for SAP country teams.


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