As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows in popularity, it’s poised to transform how businesses, governments, and consumers interact with the world around them. Over the coming months, we’ll be interviewing industry leaders both at Microsoft and within our partner community to illustrate some of the groundbreaking ways Microsoft IoT technologies are transforming decision-making across a wide range of industries. Today’s blog post features an interview with Dux Raymond Sy, CTO of AvePoint Public Sector, whose company is helping governments use IoT to dramatically improve service to citizens.
Tell us about AvePoint and what the company does.
Dux: AvePoint is a Microsoft Cloud expert that helps 15,000 companies and 5 million users worldwide migrate to the Microsoft cloud, and then manage and protect their Microsoft investment. We serve both public sector and commercial organizations, and we are a three-time Microsoft Partner of the Year Award winner. As a Microsoft partner for the last 15 years, we saw a great opportunity to develop cloud-based public sector solutions. A lot of governments around the world already use services such as Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Microsoft CRM Online, and they were asking us for a cloud-based incident and case management solution that could help them improve citizen service.
What was the solution you developed?
Dux: Our public sector solution is called AvePoint Citizen Services. It’s designed to help governments automate case management and incident reporting. The solution is built on the latest Microsoft cloud technologies — including Azure Machine Learning, Cortana Intelligence Suite, Dynamics CRM, Power BI, and Windows 10 —and has three core capabilities. First, it enables citizens to quickly report everything from potholes to broken streetlights to graffiti, wherever they are and from any device. Second, it automates the management of these cases so that once a report is made, it’s sent to a centralized government portal and then automatically assigned to a field worker, with the citizen who reported the incident receiving regular updates until it’s is resolved. Third, it provides detailed reporting capabilities that enable government agencies to review and act upon data trends over time. For example, managers can visualize the number of graffiti incidents by month, time of day, and area of the city—enabling them to discern patterns and then take proactive action that prevent these incidents from occurring in the future.
You recently added IoT capabilities to AvePoint Citizen Services. What benefits does this provide your customers?
Dux: We recently integrated Azure IoT Hub into AvePoint Citizen Services, allowing governments to operate more efficiently by connecting and managing their IoT assets. With IoT and predictive analytics, government agencies can spot issues before citizens even encounter them. For example, consider a city public works department in charge of maintaining streetlights. Using the IoT capabilities of AvePoint Citizen Services, department officials can obtain immediate notification when a streetlight bulb burns out — without waiting for a citizen to report it. And, by combining IoT with Azure Machine Learning, they can actually predict which bulbs are about to fail, and change them before they do.
Capabilities such as these can help governments save substantial time and money. Think about a maintenance worker sent to replace that bulb: If the worker knows that 10 others in the neighborhood are about to burn out, he can fix them all during the same trip. In addition, department officials can identify patterns that improve purchasing decisions — for example, that a particular light bulb brand has a high rate of failure in cold weather and should therefore be avoided in the future.
That sounds impressive. What other ways do you anticipate government agencies using the IoT capabilities of AvePoint Citizen Services?
Dux: The opportunities are countless. Equipping stoplights with smart sensors, for example, local governments can monitor traffic flows, adjusting the cadence of light changes at different times of the day. Attaching sensors to parking meters, they can track crowded parts of the city and deploy additional police to those areas in real time. Connecting sensors to trashcans, they can collect trash based on fill-level, truck availability and traffic — saving time and reducing carbon emissions. IoT enables government agencies to improve citizen service and efficiency in ways that weren’t previously possible.
How quickly do you anticipate public sector demand for IoT will grow?
Dux: While we’re at the early stage of IoT adoption, I anticipate that demand will increase substantially in the coming years. Constituents are used to using their mobile devices to accomplish tasks very fast, and they expect governments to embrace the same technology they use every day. Countries like Singapore, Estonia, and Japan are leading the way, and many others are starting to upgrade their IT infrastructures so that they’re IoT-enabled. The cloud and IoT can sound like buzzwords, but when government officials see how these technologies can help them be more innovative and forward thinking, that’s when the lightbulbs really go off.
How can government officials learn more about AvePoint Citizen Services?
Dux: We encourage people to try AvePoint Citizen Services by downloading it from Microsoft AppSource, Microsoft’s new destination for business users interested in trying cloud apps from Microsoft and its partners. By logging onto AppSource, customers can start a trial of AvePoint Citizen Services in seconds. It’s is a packaged solution, so there’s no need to download all the underlying technology. Starting a trial is as easy as downloading an app onto your cell phone.
To learn more about AvePoint Citizen Services, be sure to meet the AvePoint and Microsoft folks attending the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona from November 15-17. Also, stop by the Microsoft AppSource booth to learn more about our other AppSource apps. For more information about how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.