Feds would benefit from adoption of IoT, analysis finds

A lack of strategic leadership, skills and funding are impeding speedier adoption.
A lack of strategic leadership, skills and funding are impeding speedier adoption.

The federal government would greatly benefit from implementation of Internet of Things technology, but few agencies are taking advantage, says a new analysis [pdf] by the Center for Data Innovation.

In its latest study, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit think tank, which investigates the intersection of data, technology and public policy, discerned that if agencies implemented reforms they could overcome challenges impeding greater adoption of the growing new technology.

A new report from the Center for Data Innovation proposes a series of reforms to spur federal adoption of IoT technology, including: 

  • Establishing an IoT taskforce through the federal CIO Council to provide cross-government leadership and coordination; 
  • Developing an action plan within each agency that identifies how it will use the IoT to cut costs and improve services; 
  • Employing a chief data officer within each agency to develop the technical infrastructure needed to make effective use of data generated by the IoT; and 
  • Establishing a team of government employees who can be assigned to work on high-impact IoT projects.

“A few early adopters in the public sector have already demonstrated how the Internet of Things can help government provide better services to citizens at a lower cost,” Daniel Castro, the Center's director and the report's lead author, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, overall adoption across federal agencies is still very low, especially when you look outside the defense arena."

This is unfortunate, he said, because not only would the government become more efficient and effective, but committed implementation by the federal government could spur commercial adoption, which would result in further efficiencies for both the public and private sector.

A number of benefits could be realized with adoption of IoT technology, the study found. In particular, agencies could cut costs and offer better public services, including projects that improve public safety, reduce energy use, enhance military capabilities and improve worker health.

However, a lack of strategic leadership, skills and funding are impeding speedier adoption. As well, inadequate procurement policies and an unwillingness to take on risks related to privacy, security, interoperability and data governance are hindering advances.

"The federal government needs to create a proactive strategy to accelerate adoption, otherwise it will continue to lag behind private sector adoption,” Castro said. 

To assemble the study, interviews were conducted with experts from the U.S. federal government and the private sector to examine the current state of federal use of the Internet of Things.

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