The internet of things: what it means for government

The next big thing in technology is the so-called “internet of things”, always-on devices and ubiquitous connectedness. But what does it mean for government? Some of the world’s leading experts will explore the issue at a summit in Canberra tomorrow.

The latest era within the broader digital revolution is the internet of things — previously dumb objects are increasingly collecting and communicating data to make them more useful — and the implications and opportunities for government service delivery are profound.

Predictions vary wildly but the more conservative suggest at least 25 billion such things will be on the internet by the end of this decade, collecting vast amounts of data about their usage or relevant events taking place around them, and getting on with their job with less and less human participation. In terms of its potential to generate public value, the numbers being talked about are also immense.

Glenn Archer, who left his role as the federal government’s chief information officer last February before popping up in May as a research vice-president for global technology consultancy Gartner, will be exploring how this emerging era fits into the digital government journey tomorrow at a Canberra summit hosted by the Australian Information Industry Association.

“The primary focus will be that IoT represents an enormous opportunity to government; that it does present an opportunity to lower the cost associated with delivering good quality services and a better outcome to citizens, as well as a platform to eventually engage more actively with them,” he told The Mandarin. “In the long run, data from IoT-supported devices is going to add to the capacity to interpret behaviour and needs more broadly, and to respond to those from a policy perspective; this is the ‘big data’ scenario.”

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