The Internet of Things: What is it and Why does it Matter?

The Internet of Things (IoT): What is it and Why Does it Matter?
Posted on 02/13/2018
CivicLive Blog - The Internet of Things (IoT): What is it and Why Does it Matter?

The Internet of Things (IoT), maybe it’s a term you’ve heard bandied about at work? Perhaps you stumbled across it in an article or even heard about it on the news. Regardless, many of us have heard the term, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily know what it means, or why it’s important. And it is important. As the world becomes increasingly more connected, the Internet of Things will continue to play a bigger role in our lives: at home, at work and even within our governments.


IoT is actually a fairly broad term, but simply put, it is the increasing ability to connect technology (anything you can turn off and on) to the Internet and to other forms of technology. It is a network of devices—anything from cell phones and TVs to cars and washing machines, radios and microwaves—all connected to each other through the Internet, giving them the ability to communicate. Through embedded sensors connected digital objects can collect, gather and exchange data.


You can find examples of IoT everywhere you look. One of the most prominent and popular examples is the “Smart Home”. Smart Homes allow you to control everything in your home from your thermostat to your lighting to even your surround sound (hello Amazon Echo), through your Internet. All of these devices can be activated using a digital personal assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.

The Internet of Things exists in many other forms, including Smart Watches, Fitbits and even cars equipped with full Internet access and communicative abilities.


So what does the Internet of Things mean for government? That’s a good question. As more governments strive to provide a better digital experience for their residents, they get closer to building Smart Cities—urban centers that fully integrate information and communication technology as well as digital devices (smartphones, watches, cars, etc.) within a city-wide network. This city-wide network is then used to optimize and streamline city services and operations, while simultaneously connecting to citizens.

The Smart Cities push isn’t a new thing, but it is growing. An increasing number of cities are devising a Smart City plan. In 2016 the US Government announced its support of the Smart City initiative by committing $160 Million USD over a five year period. The city of Columbus, Ohio is currently under construction to become the USA’s first official Smart City. The city’s plan includes building better, smarter roads using integrated data exchange (IDE) that will collect data from sensors in traffic lights to help determine which intersections are considered the most dangerous.

For governments, a smart city is the best way to use the Internet of Things on a grand scale—specifically when it comes to improving infrastructure at a reduced cost, such as smart grids that help with resource conservation. Cities are implementing the IoT in different ways: Paris has Autolib, an electric car sharing service that allows drivers to reserve parking spaces through the car. In Copenhagen they’re using sensors to analyze the city’s bike traffic to help improve bike routes for the 40% of the population that cycles rather than drives. And in San Diego, cameras in streetlights are being used to monitor pedestrian traffic—they’re even using the data to reroute cars during peak pedestrian hours.


The Internet of Things is an exciting and seemingly limitless concept. As more and more everyday items are digitized, the IoT grows. In fact, IoT devices connected to the Internet will triple by 2020, growing from 10 billion to 34 billion. For governments, this kind of growth means the possibility to build cities of the future. It also means being able to provide citizens with the most comprehensive eGovernment experience possible, one that focuses on their needs and grows with them.

As you work toward building your own Smart City through the IoT, you’ll need a content management system that is capable of adapting to any new processes you adopt. The CivicLive CMS gives you a level of flexibility that allows for growth. Sign up for a demo and learn more.

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