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IOT and the Future Public Space

As a writer, Public sector aficionado and lover of tech, I thought it would be a good idea to share some insight into where I see the intersection between the Public Sector, innovation and IoT. 

Unless you’ve lived under a rock these last few years, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with IoT. 

Given that this is SAP and not a blog post about gardening in the early 19th Century, I think it’s safe to assume we’re familiar with IoT at a level that would exceed a layman’s perspective as well. 

Having said this, I think it’s essential to model a spirit of inclusivity. Therefore, it will be my intention to unpack terminology if it’s necessary. There’s always an opportunity to educate and refresh, and I’d be a fool not to take it. 

The Internet of Things is a pervasive idea now.

IoT features heavily in healthcare, big pharma, smart city planning, retail, public transport, leisure and many other industries. There appears to be no sign of this upward trend towards better connectivity slowing down. 

Given the prevalence of IoT and the emerging technologies associated with IoT, I thought it would be good to share some insightful speculation about the direction of travel within the public space. 

While IoT continues to trailblaze in the home, allowing for smarter solutions to the automation of everyday life, it’s in the public space where IoT excites me (and alarms me) the most. 

Theory Into Practice

Speculation is best rooted in reality. 

With that in mind, I wanted to first talk about some things happening in the public sector that underpin what I think the future will look like with IoT in the public space. 

Students and innovators at the University of the West of England partnered with London’s City Hall to lead a pioneering project that would predict significant faults on the rail network before they happened. 

I can see IoT becoming a staple of the public transportation infrastructure given its efficiency at anticipating faults and enabling timely remedies. This is exciting purely from an end user’s perspective because it spells the dawn to the most efficient public transportation we’ve ever seen. 

With the UK government pouring in Millions of pounds to lead the way with projects like IoTUK, it’s only a matter of time before many of the countries infrastructural systems have an IoT flavour to them. 

The Future Public Space 

With the widespread acceptance of IoT firmly placed in the private sector (SAP UK Ltd are included in a growing list of innovators in this sector), and the use cases hinted at above, it’s only a matter of time before IoT becomes second nature. 

I imagine a not too distant future where traffic flow is as efficient as the automated highways of films such as I Robot. I can see intelligent Police forces led by preventative data able to track thefts as they occur. I can see government decision making based on machine learning fed by data captured by everyday objects. 

If you detect a tone of dystopia here, you’d not be wrong. 

While I think IoT will primarily improve the public space, the inevitable trade-off has to be personal privacy and autonomy. 

No longer is big brother just passively watching; big brother is actively monitoring our every move and anticipating our next. 

How long before the nightmare vision of films like Minority Report become a reality? 

For this reason, I also predict heavy restrictions placed by political parties on what IoT can and can’t do. 

The Ongoing Conversation

I didn’t write this piece to lament or proselytize. I wrote this piece to capture the intrigue and drive a conversation which is ideally suited to the SAP community. 

I’d be keen to discuss your predictions for where IoT will take us in the public space. 

Do you agree with me that there’s a potential danger to our privacy? Is that relevant to how we innovate with new IoT technologies? Is the trade-off worth it? 

For me, there’s a simple solution to progression. Stakeholders in the IoT world need to develop a more transparent and more accessible language with which to engage the public with IoT.

IoT innovators need reliable accountability channels to ensure the dystopian potential doesn’t amount to anything.

Ultimately, public perception needs to shift. This won’t happen until a significant investment is made in public IoT education.

The bottom line

In summary, looking at IoT and the Public space, it’s clear that there is progress being made and that the future looks better connected than ever before. There are some obvious concerns related to public privacy that need advocates in the IoT space working on.

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