Digital Governance for Municipal CIOs Part II

Written by Ben Sebree

Part II: The Impact of the IoT

Part I of this digital governance series, outlined the steps municipal CIOs should take to embrace digital transformation in local government. Here, Part II takes a deep dive into one of the factors making the biggest impact on citizen engagement models that’s calling for digital data disruption. If enterprise mobility and social media could be considered technological advancements that reframed digital governance, then consider the Internet of Things (IoT) to be the next frontier that will again reshape how local governments interact with, and service, their citizens.

The IoT—technically speaking—refers to the growing interconnectivity of everyday Internet-enabled devices. The connection of these devices to additional computing power and analytics capabilities make them smart, allowing for greater functionality that delivers more individualized and impactful moments of engagement. In this way, the IoT is much, much more than an advancement in systems architecture. It is the digital foundation of a new service model for businesses and public sector entities that are continually striving to meet the growing demands of device-tethered customers. You may think there is no place for smart toasters and personal home assistants in your citizen engagement strategy, but whether you believe it or not, the IoT is already having a significant impact on digital governance models across the nation.

The Engagement Model Disruption of the IoT

According to Cisco, the IoT marks the next great digital revolution and is expected to generate new jobs, new business models, and serve as the biggest global opportunity in the next several decades. Some analysts have even predicted as many as 50 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet by 2020.

Improving Lives Through Data and Analytics

One of the greatest implications of the IoT for local governments is its ability to improve citizens’ lives through real-time access to levels of data never before imagined. Already, smart cities that are embracing the IoT are leveraging data obtained by sensors and integrated within systems to improve quality of life. Think sensors that notify administrations of poor air quality, flood risks, and can even notify citizens of traffic congestion during evening commutes.

The Need for Data Management and Collaboration

While the possibilities of the IoT seem endless, greater IoT technology capabilities mean greater abilities to share data between software stacks, devices, sensors, infrastructure, and people, which means local governments that aim to embrace the benefits of greater data sharing and interconnectivity need an improved data management model as well. In the short term, it means a need for data management beyond the capabilities of a single CIO or IT team. Such complex interconnectivity will impact nearly every department in your administration, from parks and recreation to human resources, which will make systems implementations and ongoing workflow management an administration-wide initiative.

Central to the success of a digital governance approach that embraces the IoT and a content as a service (CaaS) citizen engagement model is the reliance upon a central data repository as the keystone to your software stack integration. The IoT is a data model predicated on shared data, which means to embrace the IoT, CIOs must embrace systems built from an API-first architecture that tie to a single, integrated platform.

Keys to IoT Integration Success

If your community is ready to take the first step to leveraging data that can enhance citizens’ lives, keep the following IoT implementation and integration secrets in mind:

  • CIOs must lead IoT innovation, but all departments must embrace digital governance strategies.
  • CIOs must obtain buy-in from city and county leaders and elected officials on the role that the IoT will play in helping the community meet its mission and vision.
  • Ensure any IoT integration initiatives improve citizen lives or streamlines workflows. Functionality that is innovative, but not relevant to citizens’ lives can be a wasted investment of time, money, and resources.

Final Thoughts

Understand that the IoT is bigger than smart watches and voice-command functionality. It is the next critical technological advancement opportunity for the private and public sectors with the ability to enhance how citizens live their lives and connect to entities and people around them. As you begin to make the shift toward becoming a smart city or smart county, always keep in the forefront of your strategic planning that the IoT is not about to which systems and data elements you can connect. It’s about the processes, workflows, and moments of citizen engagement that such interconnectivity can enable.

To learn about the key metrics that are most indicative of how well your local government website is performing as a citizen engagement tool, click below to download our eBook, "The Key to Citizen Engagement Lies in Your Digital Data."

eBook: Guide to Local Government Analytics