Where is government headed in its adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology? Experts from Citrix and Carnegie Mellon University  weigh in on the topic below.

The government is slower to adopt new technology than the commercial sector and more risk-averse, says David Smith, Director, State and Local Government Sales at Citrix. His firm helps secure, mobilize and optimize app and data delivery.

Even so, Smith (photo below on left) sees government IT departments using the IoT in the following public sector applications and functions:
·         Notifications of critical system status before business interruptions
·         Network security monitoring looking for anomalies
·         Automated diagnostics for error logging and support resolution
·         Data center operations for server operation and facilities
·         Big data analytics to understand and optimize operations

“Most government enterprises have complex combinations of legacy systems, software as a service (SaaS) services, thousands of devices, multiple locations and unending new mission requirements from their leaders,” Smith tells GPN. The new technology, adds Smith, can help  government leaders in their quest to improve quality of services, both internally and externally, and to cut costs.

Smith says it makes sense that governments have the ability to integrate and connect all their systems, services, people and things into automated workflows.

Governments are already in the early stages of IoT deployments in cities, says Jason Hong, associate professor of the Human Computer Interaction Institute at the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science.

“Many local governments have outfitted their buses with location tracking systems that let people pay for parking via their smartphones. In Pittsburgh, there are even some traffic lights that are managed by researchers investigating how to use video cameras and artificial intelligence techniques to streamline traffic,” Hong tells GPN.

Hong says most of these early stage IoT technologies are benign. He believes, however, that the next generation of technology poses some thorny questions. “For example, some cities are considering deploying smart street lamps, that would be instrumented with a range of sensors that can be used to detect devices and people. The data will be used primarily for saving energy, but who will be able to see this data, and how can we guarantee that the data will be used in proper ways?

Hong is concerned about IoT cybersecurity, noting that there will be thousands of IoT systems that use low-end hardware that’s not properly shielded. Worse, says Hong, “Many of these systems will be developed and deployed by companies that don’t have a lot of experience with security.”

Hong points to recent IT trickery as a sign that IoT setups are in danger. “We’ve already started to see ransomware attacks on hospitals, where an attacker uses malware to encrypt data and lock doctors and nurses out of computers. It’s not hard to imagine similar kinds of attacks on IoT, where an attacker holds a city’s traffic lights, street lamps, drones, or autonomous vehicles hostage.”
IoT Poll

Update: American City & County’s ongoing Internet of Things poll shows the following government sectors will be affected the most by IoT in the next five years:

Public Safety
Traffic/Parking Management
Public Transportation
IT/Network Security
Fleet Management

The top three sectors have each received at least 51 percent of the respondents’ votes. The poll, which is still open, asks respondents to choose from a list of nine sectors; there was no limit on the number of sectors that respondents could select.


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