IoT: The Solution To Improved Government Social Protection

Part of the government’s role is to provide social protection for factors that make people vulnerable. For example, people face unemployment, health problems, and other factors that create physical, economic, and other problems in their lives. Government regulations work to reduce risks that make people vulnerable. When people face problems, public-sector social programs such as health insurance, social welfare, and others provide help.

Here’s how the Internet of Things (IoT) could help government agencies manage social protection programs more easily and effectively.

IoT’s potential for improving social protection

IoT technology can provide benefits for both government agencies and the people they serve. The public sector can use IoT to gather and process data with the goal of running its agencies better and improving services. IoT technology provides solutions to help the public sector work in a more streamlined manner. It can reduce public risks and improve access to social programs.

IoT enables government agencies to perform services better within a tighter budget. Since the cost of IoT technology has gone down and it helps create more efficient systems, it could stretch budgets farther to reduce the burden on agencies and offer more services to the public. IoT technology can also provide better solutions to keep up with risks associated with a changing world.

Directly impacting people’s lives

IoT-enabled networks can help identify risks, reduce vulnerabilities, and manage problems. They can connect “things” such as smart homes and devices with services that help individuals.

The IDC white paper, The IoT Imperative in Public Services: Government and Healthcare, offers the example of wheelchairs, wearable devices, and/or smart homes that assess the health and welfare of elderly and disabled people. Through IoT, connected “things” alert medical personnel when a person needs medical care. IoT can also connect home-bound people with a social support system, reducing vulnerabilities such as experiencing a medical emergency when alone. For example, if a person was unable to push a button because she became unconscious, the IoT device would alert emergency services.

This technology extends beyond houses into the communities where people live and work. Government agencies could use IoT to remotely monitor traffic lights, air quality, sound levels, and other factors that affect people’s lives on a day-to-day basis, managing these factors to improve overall quality of life and cut down on problems. For example, IoT could keep a traffic light green when it would benefit traffic patterns and fuel economy. This technology could also help government agencies keep track of assets such as buildings and roadways.

Challenges to using IoT in the public sector

While IoT shows a lot of promise for public sector applications, it is still used less broadly than in the business sector. Government agencies are commonly known to be slow to change. In addition, barriers such as restrictive regulations and legacy systems can hold back new technology.  The Brookings Institution studied strategic plans of federal agencies in the United States and found that none of these agencies included IoT within their annual strategic plan.

In their article in Deloitte University Press, authors Max Meyers, Claire Niech, and William D. Eggers warn, “if public sector organizations do not start analyzing the implications of the IoT today, they risk being left behind, making it more difficult to effectively regulate or efficiently deliver services in this shifting reality.” IoT could help governmental agency better handle the problems they already face and create solutions that improve the lives of citizens, who increasingly expect government agencies to keep up with the changing technologies used in the business world.

Government agencies are tasked with helping reduce the risks people face and providing programs for people struggling with social challenges. IoT technologies provide solutions that can help government agencies better serve its citizens.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation: Download The IoT Imperative in Public Services: Government and Healthcare.

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Bridge between Startups and Local Government [Interview with San Francisco’s Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath]

In 2014, under the leadership of former Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation created Startup in Residence, a program connecting startups and local government to make government more effective and responsive to residents. Startup in Residence (STIR) brings startups and local government together to develop targeted solutions to civic challenges through a novel approach to shortening the typically protracted and arduous government procurement cycles. This collaborative effort provides local government agencies access to more efficient and responsive technologies and participating startups the benefit of sharing their solutions in the govtech market.

In 2016, the STIR program expanded to four Bay Area cities: Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro, and West Sacramento. And in only two years, STIR has worked with nearly 30 startups and recently announced their expansion to 12 local governments nationwide providing a larger platform for startups and continued impact on local government.

Recently, we had a chance to interview Jay Nath, Chief Innovation Officer of San Francisco, to talk about STIR and entrepreneurship in the U.S.  Jay described how STIR is mutually beneficial for startups and local government by providing startups with a low risk foray into the world of government technology and allowing government agencies to take advantage of new technologies quickly to accelerate better outcomes for residents.

STIR is helping government agencies catch up to the private sector’s customer-driven market focus. Startups are invited to apply to work with participating cities on specific technology needs. For the upcoming 2018 cohort, challenges include improving 311 request routing in San Francisco, an interactive park finder in Santa Monica, and a resident service and engagement tool in Washington, D.C.

During the 16-week program, government departments work with the startup to co-create, working through four phases: discovery, design, build and user testing. At the end of the 16-week residency, startups deliver a prototype. The goal is for cities to access new technologies that help them to improve quality of life for residents. From the startup’s perspective, working with these cities allows them to apply their innovative solutions to public sector challenges, setting them on a pathway to contract with cities nationwide.

Bringing startups into Govtech

Given San Francisco’s notoriety for entrepreneurship and all things innovation, there are countless startups and entrepreneurs from all over the world hoping to find the perfect platform to showcase their visions. It is this environment, Nath said, that allows STIR to attract early stage companies with big ideas to join the program, providing startups a unique opportunity to explore the govtech market, a market that currently, presents many barriers to entry.

STIR is an opportunity for startups to engage civically and set them on a path of steady and long-term business opportunities in the public sector. One such startup is Binti. Binti participated in STIR’s 2016 cohort partnering with San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA).   During the residency they developed a mobile-friendly app for prospective foster parents, making it easier and more straightforward for them to complete HSA’s foster parent application process. The impact was significant; Binti’s tool reduces the time for social workers to process foster parent applications by 50%, ultimately helping them do more social work and less paperwork.

“Through our participation in the Startup in Residence program, we co-developed an impactful product, and the partnership with Binti really helped us advance our efforts to nurture a more modern, tech-friendly organizational culture,” said Barrett Johnson, a Program Director at the San Francisco Human Services Agency.

According to Felicia Curcuru, founder of Binti, after the collaboration with HSA, the company has expanded their business to other cities in California. LotaData is another success story.  The startup worked with the City of San Leandro to create the “People Intelligence” platform, an easy-to-use geo-dashboard that consolidates data from across the city into a single place. Startups like Binti and LotaData are helping to modernize government while exploring new markets for their services and products.

Calling all startups to board the government train!

The application for 2018 the Startup in Residence program is open through midnight on January 1st at midnight PST.  Jay said STIR welcomes applications from startups, tech firms, and individuals that are willing to share their ideas, make efforts to improve civic challenges and serve the public using technology. The 2018 STIR program has extended to 12 local governments in California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, DC. As for startups, this is a perfect chance for them to showcase their capabilities.

To learn more:

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UK government explains next steps towards 5G future

UK government explains next steps towards 5G future

The UK government has published an update to its 5G strategy, first published at the Spring Budget 2017, which outlines its progress to date and the next phase of work in preparing the UK for 5G.

In October, the UK government launched a £25 million competition to fund a number of 5G test beds, where organizations could try out “new and innovative use cases for 5G in order to help identify new revenue steams and business models for all parts of the supply chain.”

The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, a key element of ‘Phase 1’ of the government’s strategy, is also investing £16 million in the 5GUK project during 2017/18. This is a collaborative project between the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Bristol. Each university brings specialist knowledge and capability to the project. Bristol University has expertise in smart cities and smart campus test beds, while KCL has a focus on pioneering 5G co-design approaches with various industries including smart cities and smart transport.

Read more: Huawei sets up Connected Factory group to push 5G in manufacturing

Phase 2 begins

Now, the government has announced that ‘Phase 2’ programme activity will include funding for the first large scale projects. As part of the project, it is launching a consultation on the appropriate scale and scope of deployment pilots that will help to establish the conditions under which 5G can be deployed in a timely way and help foster the development of 5G in the UK. This includes  timescales of delivery, the amount of funding contribution and the method by which funding should be allocated.

“We want the UK to be a global leader in 5G so that we can take early advantage of the benefits that this new technology offers. The steps we are taking now are all part of our commitment to realising the potential of 5G, and will help to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone,” said digital minister Matt Hancock.


The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is also launching a call for evidence to understand what makes investing in fibre and 5G attractive, and what government could do to support this.

Read more: Wait for 5G? The IoT needn’t hold its breath

IoT attraction

A big part of this attraction will undoubtedly focus on the Internet of Things (IoT). With enhanced mobile broadband via 5G, the government included a diagram in its 23-page document that referred to what the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) calls ‘ultra-reliable and low latency communications’ (URLLC).

This includes download speeds of gigabytes in a second, and support for: 3D video and ultra-high-definition screens, the use of cloud services for both work and gaming, augmented reality, industry automation, voice, mission-critical applications and self-driving cars.

5G would also support smart homes and buildings, and smart cities – or what ITU calls ‘massive machine-type communications’ (MMTC).

Read more: UK government pledges £16 million investment in 5G test network

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The UK ranked top of ‘Government AI Readiness Index’

The UK has placed top of an index ranking the readiness of international governments for artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence requires government support to reach its potential. Oxford Insights conducted the research to determine which governments are more prepared to nurture AI’s potential.

“The UK is first in our rankings, reflecting its world-leading centres for AI research and strong technology industry,” say the researchers. “Although the UK has great starting conditions for AI development, it faces stiff competition from other countries seeking to be top of the global rankings.”

Oxford Insights are not alone in their warnings of the need for continued government support to reduce the risk of competitors overtaking. Just earlier this month, I reported on our sister publication IoT News of Microsoft’s belief “the UK can lead in AI, but the ‘window of opportunity’ is closing.”

In particular, Oxford Insights believe China, the US, Russia, and Canada are of particular threat — due to their ambitions to be world leaders in AI. The US is noted to do well due to tech clusters such as Silicon Valley, but a ‘stronger focus’ is required in areas such as digital skills training and data infrastructure.

The race towards AI superiority among the global superpowers has been likened to the nuclear arms race. This race is stoking fears that ethics may become a second thought and lead to dangerous scenarios; especially where AI is used for military purposes. On AI News, I recently highlighted the creation of a ‘Robot Ethics Charter’ designed to “regulate the relationship between humans and robots.”

Oxford Insights notes there is no clear geographical clustering in terms of AI readiness with leaders in the top five distributed around the globe. This indicates the expertise and conditions needed to capitalise on AI’s potential are not area-specific and even small governments may climb up the rankings with the right support.

Estonia’s e-government drive, for example, has “helped it to perform well on grass-roots indicators of innovation such as digital skills and AI startups.” The UK, meanwhile, recently announced £75 million will be set aside to boost AI development.

The top eight ranking countries in the ‘Government AI Readiness Index’ are:

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

  • Canada

  • Korea

  • Netherlands

  • France

  • Japan

  • Australia

You can find the full rankings here.

What are your thoughts on the AI readiness index? Let us know in the comments. Latest from the homepage

Cash-strapped UK government finds funds for Artificial Intelligence and tech investments

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May today announced a new £20 million (€22.3 million) fund to help public services use UK expertise in innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI). Investment in the sector is always welcome and who knows, says Jeremy Cowan, it could take Mrs May’s mind off Brexit for a while.

Earlier, the Prime Minister met leading digital entrepreneurs and innovators from across the UK, as she announced a series of measures to support the “continued growth and success” of the country’s tech sector. There was plenty of talk of being world class and of the Government’s “enduring commitment” to this vital industry.

The PM and Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond announced a wide-ranging package of support which includes:

Doubling to 2,000 the number of visas available to the brightest and best talent from around the world, including in digital technology.
An investment of £21 million (€23.4 million) to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network called Tech Nation, designed to accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector across the country.
A new £20 million fund to help public services take advantage of UK expertise in technologies like Artificial Intelligence.
The launch of a £20 million training programme which will challenge thousands of young people aged  14 to 18 to test their skills against simulated online cyber threats.

Mrs May said: “It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of Government. Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.

“And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business,” she added.

Open all hours

The new funding for Tech Nation will see the organisation expand its hub model to more cities around the country, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Building on the work of existing regional clusters, Tech Nation will support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-up companies.

The new ‘GovTech’ challenge fund will encourage UK firms to use technology to solve challenges facing the public sector, while a dedicated new team will act as a front door into Whitehall to connect tech companies to the right parts of Government.

Following months of lobbying by industry bodies and alternative broadband providers frustrated at Openreach‘s slow and patchy broadband roll-out, the government reports that “a new £2 million (€2.23 million) pilot voucher scheme” is also being launched in six areas. This is part of the administration’s pledge to bring “the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband to homes and businesses across the country”. Local companies will be among those offered vouchers by broadband suppliers to pay for what are described as “gold-standard full-fibre gigabit connections”.

And there are just days left for students to apply for a new apprenticeship and university bursary worth £4,000 (€4,460) a year, being offered by the National Cyber Security […]

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