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Ten years ago, infrastructure in government would have meant a large data center housing servers and storage systems, local and wide area networks, and lots of PCs. Although these infrastructures still exist, digital infrastructures in government have broadened to include new devices and sensors, some linked by fiber, others by wireless networks that capture data that can be collected, manipulated, shared, and analyzed to help make more informed decisions.

At all levels of government—local, state, and federal—the number and variety of Things required to serve constituents and run efficiently are growing. Dozens of interesting projects using connected devices are increasing efficiency, lowering costs, and even saving lives.

  • The federal government manages some of the largest, most complex supply chains in the world, whether they are used for repairing military vehicles in a combat zone or helping people after a natural disaster. Some federal agencies are investigating building digital supply networks to tame the complexity. For instance, imagine a mechanic scanning a quick response (QR) code on the side of a jeep. He logs the issue and the repair deadline on a wrist-mounted device. Armed with the power of a digital supply network, the mechanic’s digital assistant proposes a solution. (1) Over the next three hours, 3D-print a temporary replacement part, (2) Call for a permanent replacement from a nearby depot, which will arrive via cargo drone tomorrow; (3) Initiate an order to restock the parts at the depot with fresh inventory.
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  • The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) started deploying sensors along the Colorado River in Texas decades ago to help track stream levels that could lead to floods. LCRA built a network of 275 connected river sensors—called Hydromet—to monitor and report stream flows and other data, including temperature, rainfall, and humidity, on a public website in near real time.

  • Alerting residents to danger is the goal of a project in Los Angeles. The city has lots of Internet-connected things, including 145,000 streetlights and 4,500 intersections. The next step is to gather information from and send data to multiple sources—not just city-installed sensors, but the sensors that people carry around, such as smartphones and watches to get situational awareness and location intelligence. For example, the city and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) developed an app called “QuakeAlert,” which uses sensors to detect the nearly constant tremors in the area. Today, that data is used to visually depict a quake in progress. To take it to the next level, the city is developing a system of sending alerts to citizens’ smartphones to give them 15 to 30 seconds to get to safety.

  • A few more examples of IoT in government are pollution detectors, water quality meters, noise indicators, and power grid controllers. These tools are allowing smart cities to proactively monitor services and deploy limited resources to address concerns more efficiently.

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Early Stages of IoT

When it comes to harnessing the potential of IoT to drive government efficiency and improve service delivery, it’s still in the early days for many agencies. IoT has been held back by a lack of skills in using the data generated by IoT; insufficient funding to modernize IT infrastructure to enable IoT projects; procurement policies that make it difficult for governments to quickly and easily adopt the technology; and risk and uncertainty about privacy, security, interoperability, and return on investment. Because many agencies still have expansive, complex, legacy assets to manage, monitoring and maintenance can be costly and ineffective. The IoT is intensifying the challenge for already overworked CIOs and IT professionals in government.

IoT is also intensifying security and risk management concerns, which are already paramount in government. To be certain, national security and prosperity will be significantly threatened if agencies do not ensure that cybersecurity and protection of the people’s information are at the top of every agenda in every department and agency.

Inefficient Asset Management

CIOs in government face many demands, including managing legacy infrastructures and securing and tracking new types of Things that are part of IoT. Yet most in government responsible for managing assets rely on time-consuming, work-intensive processes. They may have to dig for information housed in departmental systems that inevitably hold different data. These legacy asset management tactics result in poor data quality, higher costs, and unnecessary manual effort. They also prevent government agencies from having a single source of truth about the machines that power their students, staff, and institutions.

IT professionals in government need to be aware of changes in the lifecycle of every Thing, including new assets such as sensors that are part of IoT, whether it is fully operational, stolen, lost, in need of maintenance, or ready to be decommissioned. Tracking every Thing accurately required to run government agencies is essential for security, budgeting, forecasting, auditing, compliance, reporting, employee on-boarding and off-boarding, and other key processes—all this in addition to powering fundamental government services.

Smart Asset Management

For decades, IT professionals in government have struggled to get the information they need to effectively manage their organizations’ Things. The reasons: poor data quality, manual processes, and the lack of a shared system to serve as a single source of truth for assets. These issues have been compounded with the advent of the IoT.

With comprehensive, end-to-end Thing Management, government agencies can operate more efficiently and cost effectively by automating asset management processes. They also can worry less about security breaches in an environment where compliance, risk management, and safeguarding sensitive information is a must.

Thing Management from Oomnitza enables government agencies to gain access to all the information in a single place they need to optimize asset utilization and reduce the manual effort needed to understand the organization’s complete asset inventory, even if their IT teams are dispersed across several agencies. Connected devices and sensors, combined with predictive asset maintenance and smart asset monitoring, can quickly change the dynamics. By having a single source of truth for every Thing, government agencies can reduce asset downtime, lower operating costs, increase efficiency and accuracy, and improve security and public safety.

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