When telepathy fails to address citizens’ needs in your community, consider IoT

As the use of cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and digital technologies grow in the public sector, it will transform how citizens interact with their government. Over the coming months, we’ll be blogging about some of the groundbreaking ways that Microsoft and partner technologies are transforming the public sector. Today’s blog post features the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition comprising more than 45 organizations – including Microsoft – that was formed to accelerate the move to smart, sustainable cities.

Wouldn’t it be great if citizens could inform the public works department of a pothole via telepathy? And wouldn’t it be great if you could telepathically  know what your constituents are concerned about without having to call them or have them angrily call you when something is broken? Wouldn’t it be great if citizens could inform the public works department of a pothole via telepathy? And wouldn’t it be great if you could sense what your constituents are concerned about without having to call them or have them angrily call you when something is broken? Until that day comes, the Internet of Things (IoT) can help local agencies change the perception of being distant, inaccessible, and impersonal. I believe IoT offers public organizations an opportunity to transform the way they engage with their citizens, dramatically improving responsiveness, accessibility, and transparency.

Many public agencies around the world have taken charge and leveraged IoT to transform citizen services. From what we’ve seen, it has never been easier for governments to enhance efficiency and gain insights on citizens’ needs faster and more effectively.

Change public perception of government by leveraging technology to streamline citizen engagement

Citizens today expect a different level of visibility and speed from their services – whether it’s a pizza delivery, a ride to the airport, or even a response from city hall about fixing a pothole.

Cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have been creating one-stop citizen portals and mobile apps that enable users to seamlessly pay their parking tickets, respond to polls, apply for licenses, and report broken streetlights. And with IoT, cities like Amsterdam go a step further and enable citizens to be active participants in building better communities.

IoT also offers an opportunity for agencies to save money and increase faith in government by predicting problems before they impact citizens’ lives. A utility in Queensland, Australia uses IoT devices and cloud-based solutions to reduce the amount of time it takes operators to identify and repair expensive water line leaks and blockages by 60%. As a result, they saved $16 million USD ($21 million AUD), prevented 6.5 billion liters of water loss, and increased water availability by 20% – leading to fewer service disruptions and happier citizens.

Improve quality of life with advanced, predictive IoT solutions

In my opinion, one of the most exciting aspects of IoT is the insight it provides to improve service delivery and enhance the quality of life for all citizens. Cities like Chicago are using technology to increase safety, save citizens’ time, and create a healthy environment for even the most vulnerable communities. And we believe IoT is going to change the game for citizen services in ways we can’t yet imagine.

Even small IoT-driven changes can drastically enhance the quality of life for citizens. In San Francisco, the city used GPS technology and a proprietary algorithm to track transit vehicles and predict their arrival time. By considering the actual position of vehicles, their intended stops, and typical traffic patterns, the city gives riders up-to-the-minute information about when their bus or train will arrive. Citizens can track buses via mobile devices and LED signs found at bus stops and transit stations.

And in Los Angeles, the bus stops not only provide real-time bus arrival information, but also free Wi-Fi and USB ports for phone charging. Low-cost improvements transform the citizen experience, turning public transportation into a more desirable option and, as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti put it, “make waiting for the bus an opportunity, not a chore.”


Now is the right time to develop an IoT strategy

Communities don’t need to wait any longer to use IoT to solve problems and create new opportunities for their citizens. Many public leaders are already fostering a culture of innovation and embracing solutions enabled by data and IoT. Through partnership with Microsoft, public agencies are encouraging stronger, smarter and healthier communities that promote opportunity for all. Using IoT along with cloud technology is key to increasing citizen engagement and providing people with the modern, efficient services they want. It streamlines operations, making government workers more successful and taxpayers more confident in their government. And it helps attract new businesses and young, skilled professionals who want to live and work in future-forward urban centers.

Get started today

Microsoft is committed to helping governments provide exceptional services to citizens in a faster and more cost-effective way. We can help your agency promote innovation and connect better with citizens in today’s increasingly digital world. Learn more about how IoT can transform customer service and benefit your citizens in the Microsoft and Smart Cities Council white paper.

Come chat with us and AvePoint, a Microsoft partner helping governments use IoT to dramatically improve service to citizens via their Citizen Services solution, at the Smart Cities Expo. Microsoft and AvePoint will be attending the expo in Barcelona, Spain from November 15th – 17th.

For more information about how IoT can transform your city, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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