Report from IoTUK programme aims to support urban authorities with planning and procurement of technology
Public authorities in urban areas need to plan for five steps in the deployment of projects involving the internet of things (IoT), according to guidance just published as part of the IoTUK programme.
This includes looking at public benefits, scale, the critical threshold, new infrastructure and automation – along with a reference to four common scenarios around planning and procurement of IoT technology.
The guidance was produced for IoTUK – a collaboration between the Future Cities Catapult and Digital Catapult - by Imperial College London and consultancy Vivid Economics. Titled Technical Guidance for Exploring Urban IoT Solutions, it is aimed at providing public authorities looking at IoT procurements with a best practice framework focused on urban areas.
It says the first step is to look at the primary benefit to society of a project, especially what it would provide beyond what is delivered by the market. This is followed by considering the scale – making clear whether it is a pilot or large scale deployment – then assessing the minimum scale needed to obtain the benefits.
The latter can vary as some applications can be implemented in a modular fashion while others require a large scale roll out. The point is to identify whether it can deliver benefits at a small scale to individuals, a neighbourhood or district, or if it needs to be deployed city-wide.
Fourthly, authorities need to look at whether the applications can be rolled out on existing technology or need a new infrastructure. The guidance identifies three levels: where no new hardware is required; projects that include software and hardware to be installed; and those that also need a new underlying network.
Finally, the authority should look at how data is used in the project: is it just collected, or also processed for analysis, or also used to change decisions? The guidance says the latter two are more likely to provide clear benefits.
It adds that it is necessary to understand the basic architecture of the technology, highlighting the potential of ‘mist-fog-cloud’ computing. The first part of this refers to computing, storage and analytical abilities being extended to different areas of a network; the second to adding decentralised computing power to enable real time analysis; the third to adding more computational abilities at key junction points to manage the devices in the mist sector.
An IoTUK blogpost on the guidance says: “While many IoT projects are promising and fascinating, the interviews and workshops have shown that local authorities often find it difficult to decide if an IoT project has a strong public funding case.
“The guidance proposes a framework to evaluate whether an IoT project is suitable for public funding, based on an assessment of the reliability and nature of the expected benefits.”
It is accompanied by a more detailed evidence review of IoT applications for health, energy and transport.
Image: Detail from report cover, IoTUK