Imagine the nightmare of receiving a utility bill for more than $25,000. I recently read an article about a couple getting such a bill for their modest 1950s home, and it reminded me of the true impact that IoT can have on citizen engagement.
When homeowner Chris Rose went online to check his water and sewage bill, he was stunned to find he owed $25,787.73. For the Roses, an unapparent leak turned into a life-altering bill that left them scrambling not only for answers, but also for the money to pay the staggering charges. I found myself wondering how different the situation could have been if this family lived in an area equipped with smart utility sensors. Had their home been in an area enabled with smart sensors, utility workers may have been able to identify and address the leak well before the family was hit with this unimaginably high bill and before nearly a million gallons of water were wasted.
The Roses’ situation shows just one of the many ways IoT can shift the government and citizen experience for the better. With the potential to accurately monitor consumption patterns, traffic flows, street and sidewalk conditions and much more, IoT is poised to redefine government operations by enabling proactive management protocols that can head off many problems before they develop.
With numerous IoT options available to government leaders, here are the three areas that I foresee having the greatest impact in the immediate future.
Benefits afforded by utility, infrastructure and traffic sensors
IoT makes energy use more efficient — specifically electric, water, oil and gas utilities — and helps relieve some of the stress related to energy demand. If the Roses’ home had water sensors or water leak detectors, for instance, anomalies in consumption would have been detected before the leak racked up more than $25,000 in fees, particularly since the family’s bimonthly water and sewer bill averaged around $110.
Although infrastructure is designed to last many years, time takes its toll as roads eventually crumble, bridges start to crack and railway tracks fall into disrepair. However, governments across the globe are installing technology in hopes of improving infrastructure, saving money and improving citizens’ lives. Last year, for instance, the Colorado Department of Transportation teamed up with Integrated Roadways to test a half mile of the company’s smart pavement on a dangerous and accident-prone spot for drivers on U.S. Route 285. Once in place, the asphalt, brimming with safety sensors and the latest fiber optic and wireless technology, will be used to detect accidents and provide real-time services, such as road condition and traffic alerts to drivers.
We’ve all been caught in traffic jams or have found ourselves in the middle of hazardous road conditions that could have been avoided had technology alerted us. Traffic sensors are being used to identify traffic patterns to reduce congestion and allow for adjustments based on usage. Portland, Ore., is using 200 traffic sensors along three high-traffic corridors that account for more than 50% of the city’s road fatalities. Data from these sensors will be used to connect vehicles’ GPS systems with traffic cameras, providing city personnel the insight to help control traffic patterns and increase safety within these dangerous corridors.
IoT provides a world of possibilities
As IoT technologies continue to grow, so will their influence on our day-to-day lives. Thus, I encourage you to think about your current city operations and how they could benefit from IoT. If your community struggles with hard-to-manage, deteriorating roadways or citizen reports of skyrocketing utility bills, or constituents wish you could better enable them to avoid traffic congestion, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the benefits IoT can bring.
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