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

Building Our New Website: Improved search, speed, and an open issue tracker

As we continue to evolve our new website, I will provide more regular updates to all of you visiting our site. Today’s topics are: improved search; much faster speed; and an open issue tracker.

Searching our content

For all of you who contacted us saying “I can’t find anything” on the site through the search box (the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen), we’ve got some great news – it should now work!   We tried two different search solutions for all our content before we moved on to a third solution that we find works well. Please do let us know if you are still having challenges finding content.

Speeding up the site

The site should now be much faster! We recently deployed some caching servers in front of our site and the speed should be dramatically improved for most all of the pages. This was very important to us as we want to provide the best user experience.

Tracking open issues

If you do find anything wrong with the new site, we have an open issue tracker on Github. You can visit the repository at:

https://github.com/InternetSociety/web-site-feedback

and the actual list of open issues is at: https://github.com/InternetSociety/web-site-feedback/issues

You are welcome to open issues there and we’ll be notified. If you don’t have a Github account and for some reason you don’t want to create one, you are always welcome to email me directly at york@isoc.org.

We welcome any and all feedback about the site. Thank you for visiting – and for supporting the work of the Internet Society to ensure that the Internet remains open, globally connected, secure, and trusted for everyone.

The post Building Our New Website: Improved search, speed, and an open issue tracker appeared first on Internet Society.

Internet Society

New Electric Imp Dev Center Features Enhanced Database Searches, Improved User Interface, and Much More

Electric Imp has a large and growing IoT developer community which now extends to more than 20,000 users. Consequently, we need to support ever wider ranges of experience and expertise among our developer community. That is the task of the Electric Imp Dev Center, which has evolved into a world-class hub for IoT product creation and Squirrel documentation. The Dev Center now hosts more than 900 pages of content — three times the number of pages three years ago. In that time, the IoT has matured, and our developers are innovating quickly.

Now the time has come to lay the foundations for the expansion of our communities and the Dev Center over the next three years and beyond. So we are excited to bring you our next-generation Dev Center.

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A colorful new paint job overlays a powerful engine

The brand new site, created from the ground up, uses Drupal. For those who haven’t heard of it, Drupal is one of the leading lights in the world of online publishing content management systems. It is an open source product that has many big-name users around the globe and is backed by a diverse community of coders who keep it up to date, secure and ensure its relevance for many years to come.

Drupal brings some immediate benefits to Dev Center users:

  • More rapid updates
  • Faster, more accurate search
  • Responsive user interface
  • Platform for great new developer features

Drupal also allows us to provide a Dev Center that can continue to grow at the pace we’ve experienced over the past four years — roll on the next 900 pages! — while remaining responsive to developers accessing its resources from their browsers, and to Electric Imp’s engineers and writers as they keep the existing content up to date and add more.

You can get a taste of this flexibility in the new Dev Center’s Knowledgebase, which provides a speedily searchable database of technical notes, known issues, hints and tips, and FAQs organized by subject matter. We couldn’t offer that with Jekyll, the system we currently use to build the Dev Center.

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The new Electric Imp Knowledgebase

We have also taken the opportunity to brighten up the design. In particular, we have made finding your way around the site much more intuitive and quick. The site has been reorganized into functional areas: getting started, software development, hardware design, manufacturing information, tools documentation and, with the Knowledgebase, a beefed up help section — all with the intention of making it easier for a given user to get straight to the information they need.

The primary site navigation — moved from the right to the left of the screen — is section-specific and expandable, enabling you to reach the content you want quickly without cluttering your workspace. New and updated content is flagged on the homepage, and within each of the sections, along with popular documents and library refreshes.

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Improved navigation

Finally, we have given the new site its own location on the web, so please update your bookmarks. The new Dev Center can be found at https://developer.electricimp.com/

For an initial period, we’ll continue to host, but not update, the old Dev Center, so please begin making use of the new site straight away. All the content from the original site is available in the new one, which is already being updated as Electric Imp’s impCentral™ rollout continues. We’re aware of some small presentation issues, which we’re working on at the moment, but please feel free to drop us a line via the Electric Imp Forum if you spot any issues.

You are Electric Imp’s community of developers and customers, and the Dev Center is your resource. All the changes have been implemented to create a site that is more responsive and accessible for makers, engineers and manufacturers, so please do let us know if  you have comments or suggestions for improvements.

We appreciate you helping us build a resource that is here to assist you for the long haul.

Electric Imp Blog

Big Data and IT Talent Drive Improved Patient Outcomes at Schumacher Clinical Partners

Schumacher Clinical Partners (SCP) staffs and operates more than 400 emergency departments and hospital medicine programs throughout the United States, treating some 8 million patients annually. The company, based in Lafayette, Louisiana, manages electronic medical record, coding, billing, and back-end reimbursements on its platform. Like many health care organizations, changing consumer expectations, new regulations, and an influx of patient data has created a perfect storm for SCP to rethink how it leverages digital tools to better serve patients and providers.

MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor Gerald C. Kane spoke with SCP’s chief information officer Chris Cotteleer about how digital transformation through data and analytics makes his organization more efficient, improves patient outcomes, and offers attractive work environments for health care providers.

MIT Sloan Management Review: How do you use data and analytics insight to change the way you make decisions?

Cotteleer: Our goal is to get the right doctor or clinician into the right facility at the right time for the patient to walk through the door and be treated well. We take a very operation-centered approach to information; it’s not unlike a supply chain. We’ve got a supply of patients coming in — an infinite queue with spikes in demand. They need to be served, and we’ve got to get providers on the ground to do that.

To meet patient demand, we spend a lot of time trying to predict what’s going to happen — accounting for changes like surges and seasonality — and for that, having patient chart information is very important, so we can tell that a Triage Acuity 5 [lower level of support needed] takes a little bit of time, or a Triage Acuity 1 [a higher level of support] will take more. Depending on the blend of what’s occurring in that emergency department, we might staff an extra NP/PA [nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant] or an extra doctor, and all of that goes to cost and quality of care.

I read somewhere that you’re working on something called “syndromic surveillance.” Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Cotteleer: We’re on the precipice of that. It’s a real driver for us. Call it “syndromic surveillance” or call it “better operations” — we want to know, for example, if we’re experiencing an uptick in the flu, because that has real implications to our patients. If we see more cases of a condition, we can then shift our staffing levels in near-real time to adjust for that uptick and continue a high level of service. We’re working with academia and others to beat the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] in time to deliver information. And I say that with pride, because the CDC is pretty great at what it does, and we want to be thought of in the same breath.

What are the things you’re most excited about coming down the pipeline in the next few years that will influence you or the way you do business?

Cotteleer: Blockchain technology, where I can have an inalienable, parse-able, and additive record. We’re looking at it, and insurers are starting to get into it. If you manage it like a contract — a contract for wellness, if you will — it’s very applicable. Something occurs and I generate the initial blockchain, then I add things and throughout the episode of care, I can always refer back. I have an inalienable chain of evidence where only the people who need to be involved are involved, and it can parse out value to the individuals who deserve it.

MACRA [Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015] is the upcoming change in how health care is reimbursed; it’s going to change the industry. Right now what happens is, you break an arm and pay a fee for service. In the future, it’s going to be results based. It’s not whether I fix your broken leg; it’s whether you can walk again. MACRA is going to change it and say, at first you get an incentive to get a good result. But over time, that’s going to change into a penalty when clinicians don’t achieve positive outcomes.

Well, how does one manage that? That’s where blockchain applications come in. In order for us to be able to parse that, first we have to capture it and measure it. And then we have to be able to go back through it and see who participated. What you’re talking about is a value chain. You’re taking an event and you’re capturing all the evidence and participants in that value chain that results in a well patient and a reimbursement. Now we have to be reciprocal with everybody in that value chain to make sure that everybody gets compensated in a way that they can continue to do that. Because if you can’t continue to do it at a profit, or at least break even, you’re going to go out of business, and that doesn’t suit the value chain.

How do you balance trying to keep the trains running and exploring something new at the same time?

Cotteleer: You get very good at segmentation, compartmentalizing, and knowing what your priorities are and sticking to them. Operationally, we have an A and an I Team.

The A Team is responsible for keeping the trains on the tracks, as you said. We have had fires, hurricanes, and flooding in Lafayette, and we have not missed a beat. Knock on wood, we are 99.999% up.

The I Team [which stands for “integration”] is charged with chasing the next big opportunity. My senior vice president is on the integration team with me, along with a couple of vice presidents, and a couple of top managers. They make sure integrations succeed from a technology perspective. Organizationally, we have an integration PMO [Program Management Office] that helps take some of the load and looks upstream to indicate to us what’s coming down, and help us prioritize so we get the right people on the right jobs at the right time. It’s a balancing act. And our executive team here, I’ve got to tell you, is actually pretty good.

Do you have all the talent you need to make this happen? What skills do you look for when hiring IT talent?

Cotteleer: Do we have enough talent? No. Are we looking for more? Yes. Is it hard to find? Really good talent is. What do we look for? Vision isn’t enough; it’s necessary, but not sufficient. You need strategy and execution, and that means a sort of je ne sais quoi. There’s a passion inside that I look for. We have 133 people on staff in IT, and I try to interview everybody who comes through the door. And I look for the same thing: Technology we can teach in a lot of cases, or we can rent. I’m looking for people who can think.

I’ve got people who are very deep in a specific technology, and we need them for specific things. But what I really need is someone who can say, “I understand this problem and how technology can enable a solution.” Or, “I see that opportunity, and here’s the technology to bring to bear.” Because most of the stuff we’re doing today didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Do physicians say, “There’s an advanced digital infrastructure, this is a good place to work?”

Cotteleer: I believe if you talked to our chief medical officer, he would say physicians absolutely come here because they’re attracted to our platforms and technologies, because it allows them to serve their patients well, efficiently. You know what physicians, in my anecdotal experience, don’t like doing? Spending 15 minutes with a patient only to spend an hour on the EMR [electronic medical record]. We work on technologies to streamline their interaction with the computer so they can focus on what they want to do, which is to serve patients. Absolutely, I think they come to us for the technology we can offer.

All of our physicians can log onto a secure portal and check their performance. Every doctor can see how they’re doing with respect to all of their peers at their facility and across the country. We measure that down to the provider level.

Do they appreciate that data-driven feedback?

Cotteleer: They love it. It results in better doctors and happier patients. If a chart needs more information, we can return it to a doctor electronically. They can fix it right away and move on, which has economic and quality benefits to us and the patient.

Can you give us a vignette of what you offer doctors to make their process easier, and to make a better patient experience than another hospital?

Cotteleer: Sure — a doctor comes in. Has the choice between us and one of our competitors. We say to him, “Hey, doctor, you know what? With me you’re always going to know where you stand vis-à-vis your peers, and you always know what you’re going to get paid.” And remember, he’s an ER physician. He didn’t pick the easy route; he picked the toughest 90 seconds of your life every night for the next 25 years of his life. This is, in general, a competitive, highly intelligent individual. Giving them feedback through data like this is enormously attractive to them.

Not only that, if you get a chart deficiency — meaning we require more information — we’ve made it as easy as humanly possible. It’s a one-stop shop. You log in, single sign-on. Everything at your control panel to run your emergency room life is there, from scheduling through compensation. The entire spectrum of their experience here is accessed through consolidated touch points, and that’s very attractive to them.


MIT Sloan Management Review

Visual inspection for improved quality in manufacturing

The challenges of quality inspection in manufacturing

Manufacturing operations strive to deliver the highest quality during every stage of the production or assembly process. Over half of these quality checks involve visual confirmation to ensure the parts are in the correct locations, have the right shape or color or texture, and are free from any blemishes such as scratches, pinholes, foreign particles, etc. Automating these types of visual quality checks is very difficult because of the volume of inspections, product variety, and the possibility that defects may occur anywhere on the product and could be of any size. This is where a new offering from IBM Visual Inspection for Quality – delivers its highest value.

Learning from defect images that are ‘OK’ and ‘NG’

Taking advantage of IBM’s experience in Deep Learning used by Watson, IBM has developed a new offering for manufacturing clients to automate visual quality inspections. Images of normal and abnormal products from different stages of production can be submitted to the centralized ‘learning service’ that will build analytical models to discern OK vs NG characteristics of parts, components and products that meet quality specifications (OK) and those that don’t (NG). Further, if there is a need to classify defects into different types to address potential root causes and fix the quality issues, the IBM Visual Inspection for Quality offering can be trained to perform such tasks with a high level of confidence.

Cognitive for continuous improvement in defect recognition

Based on advanced neural networks, the models trained by IBM Visual Inspection for Quality can be deployed on pre-configured hardware on the factory floor so that there can be very little decision latency during production. The solution can learn continuously by taking feedback from manual inspectors who can review the automated classification and override them based on human judgment. The corrective information along with the image from the production floor is then included in the next training cycle for that analytical model, thereby improving its ability to discern in the future. Such a Cognitive approach is unique in the industry.

Reduce dependency on manual inspection

The IBM Visual Inspection for Quality offering delivers reliable results with low escape rates to reduce the dependency on specialized labor and to improve throughput of quality processes across multiple industries. The solution is being tried out successfully by several global corporations producing electronics, automotive, and industrial products. If you have manufacturing inspection needs which could benefit from IBM’s cognitive capabilities please, take a few moments to learn more about IBM Visual Inspection for Quality.

Learn more about employing IoT solutions to drive more up-time and lower costs with this report: Using the Internet of Things for preventive maintenance. Or talk to an IBM expert today about your specific questions.

You can also keep up to date with IoT stories like this, by signing up to the monthly IoT Sense newsletter.

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Internet of Things blog